Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees

Miller High Life offers to pay Christian Lopez’s tax bill

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We passed along word yesterday that Christian “I caught Jeter’s 3000th” Lopez will probably have to pay a five-figure tax bill on all of the merch the Yankees gave him in exchange for the home run ball.  But don’t worry, Christian! Darren Rovell of CNBC reports that help is on the way!

Miller High Life, which recently had a campaign to make its beer the official beer of fans, has offered to cover the bill—which could be more than $10,000—for Lopez, who said he has about $100,000 in student loan debt as well.

Now listen to me closely, Christian: take the cash if it’s being offered. Do not settle for $10K worth of the Champagne of Beers. For two reasons, really. One because, like, it’s Miller High Life. But two, because you’d then have to pay tax on the beer.  Although, he may have to pay tax on the cash too. Though eventually, with people paying each subsequent tax bill, I suppose he could pare it down significantly.  It’s probably worth noting right now that I got my lowest law school grade in tax class.

Maybe he can just avoid taxes altogether, however. My friend Ethan had a great idea in that regard.  From his email to me yesterday in which we talked about the tax implications:

If he had a really ballsy tax lawyer, he could argue that the purchase of his seat for that specific place and date was a shrewd investment of $99.95, which resulted in the capital gain of XXX when it could have been a dead loss, meaning that he should be taxed at cap gains rates, not normal income, approximately halving his tax bill.

Tax-hawks: would this fly?  I’d try it!

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.

Josh Hamilton leaves camp with a tweaked knee

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers poses during a spring training photo shoot on February 28, 2016 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.

As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.

You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.