Friday, August 10, 2007

"Fried Fridays: The 'Shot' Heard 'Round The World"


As far as I know that is the most powerful, all-encompassing number in the sport of baseball. As a kid I grew up in Georgia when Hank Aaron was topping out his incredible playing career with the Braves. The elite upper echelon of home-run kings: Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron...and now Barry Bonds.

Needless to say, the shroud of steroid controversy over Bond's aura is worthy of serious consideration, and that 'jury' is a long time out from any verdict. But he did just break the ultimate sport record for total home runs, regardless of the yet undetermined ruminations.

So, is THIS my 'Fried Friday' soapbox? Are you kidding? Doping and cheating are so %*$# prevalent in many sports these days that that's TOO easy of a shot over the bow, eh?

No, the bee in my bonnet lies with the hapless soul who came up with that ball in his possession. Meet Matt Murphy, college student from Queens, NY.

Let's get the story straight. College kid with friend, en route to Australia for some summer traveling, laying over in San Francisco for one night, paying $55 for a cab ride to go to the Giants game for the heck of it and getting last-minute tickets at the gate, purchasing crab sandwiches only moments before returning to their seats for the landing of "THE" ball...and now, thanks to our Society, instant Hero and Celebrity status.

Is that the "Fried Friday" soapbox? Heavens no, again. Neat story all around the board, though.

My beef is with the modus operandi of the IRS.
I know we all need to pay taxes and pay our fair share...but the inheritance and gift tax structure has gone waaaaay overboard in scope and intent. Money-grubbing greed is one of America's best illustrious track records, and when it comes to winnings and 'unusual' situations for individuals, the IRS is guaranteed to be there showing their...well, their south-bound end of a north-bound horse.

Matt happens to be there and catches said ball. How cool is that. Speculators say that ball may fetch $500,000 or more, given it's uniqueness. IRS says Matt immediately owes them 35% of the ball's value, regardless of whether he sold it or not. Call it a $600K ball (knowing it would be FAR more if the steroids didn't 'cloud' the issue). IRS wants about $210,000 for it up front, now, no bargaining. Any income he earns will also be taxed in that highest of brackets as a result.

A college student at the right place and time, simply catching a ball, and our government demands immediate payment of a phantasmal sum. I can see paying taxes once it sells, but this current government push is, well...Macbeth would say something is rather putrid in Denmark. God forbid the poor soul retains an attorney to protect his interests (oxymoron of the first degree). He's financially screwed no matter which direction he now turns; it's the angle that few of us think about because it takes away from the joy of the story.

Latest is he might not sell at all. IRS is demanding its money, regardless. Could be doping proves true in Bond's case, and the ball will be further de-valued, giving Murphy a capital loss to deal with. Back up the bus to Mark MacGuire's phenomenal one-season home-run tear years ago, where a fan caught the "big" ball and ended up giving it back to MacGuire...and the IRS STILL fought to get tax money from the fan who but for a moment held a very valuable ball. It is greedy stupidity at it's ugliest; in the MacGuire case, Congress stood up and put a stop to the that particular push of IRS insanity.

It shouldn't take such a drastic measure. Ever. That's my 'Fried Fridays' nod...


Speaking of "Fried"...been a week of oppressive heat here in North Carolina as well as other things I'm not supposed to write about...and we ain't done yet. Long-range models put a hurricane heading toward the east coast of Florida in two weeks....while not written in blood, the Atlantic bears watching carefully. Of course, all basins bear watching anyway as statistical tropical storm activity starts significantly increasing the last half of August. Given the serious drought conditions for many in the Southeast, the significant rains tropical systems can provide will help in that recovery process.

(all photos from the AP wires)

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