09/22/2005: All good scams must come to an end....
and in this case, I can blame the IRS. I should probably contemplate becoming a whiny, tax hating Libertarian because of it.
Let me explain more fully. Over at today's Business of Baseball Report at The Hardball Times, Brian Borawski tells us of this development in major league income taxation:
IRS Crackdown Dampens Ticket GiveawaysI mourn, because this means the end of what was, perhaps, the greatest scam I've ever personally witnessed. It's something of a long story, so if you're interested, you'll have to look below the fold....
In the past, baseball players were given an almost unlimited amount of tickets to give away to friends and family. Now if they give away complimentary tickets provided by the team, they take a tax hit because the Internal Revenue Service determined that these freebies should be considered as compensation to the player and summarily taxed. The end result is that teams have seen a steep decline in the number of tickets that have been requested by players.
In addition, when players do request tickets, more are actually being used. Tickets that were reserved but not picked up were tracked, and this number is down substantially.
The process of ticket requests has also been streamlined. In the past, the traveling secretary would hand out a sign-up sheet to determine the number of tickets the team would need to deliver to the ticket office. Now every clubhouse has a network in which players request tickets on their laptops, allowing teams to track every transaction in order to keep the IRS satisfied that they’re complying with the rules.
Although the statute of limitations has probably run on this, I haven't been a party defendant to a defamation lawsuit yet, and I've really no desire to start now, so the names have been changed to protect the guilty. I was working in St. Louis at the time, and in our office, as in so many offices in St. Louis, Cardinals baseball was the state religion.
At this office, I worked with a woman. Let's call her "Susie Rogers" (NOT, of course, her real name). At the time, the Cardinals had a pitcher in their bullpen who was playing out the tail end of what would prove to be a pretty much league average career; let's call him "Barry Rogers". During a slow day at the office one afternoon, I was talking with Susie when the topic of the evening's game came up, and I expressed a desire to go, but unfortunately couldn't spend the money on tickets. She shot back with, "That's no problem, I can get us tickets." I asked how, and she would only reply, "I have connections."
So after work we headed out to the stadium. I was wondering what was going on, when we approached the ticket windows near the Cardinals executive suites. Susie approached the ticket window, smiled sweetly at the peon working the window that night, and said, "Hi, I'm Susie Rogers, Barry's cousin, and I'm here to pick up the tickets Barry left for me tonight."
Do I really have to tell you that, to the best any of us (including Susie) knew, there was no family relationship between the two of them whatsoever (well, no closer than about thirtieth or so degree of kinship, I'm sure)?
The peon working the window checked Susie's ID, but when he saw that the name did indeed match that of the Cards' hurler, she received two tickets (to a very nice section, I might add), and in we went.
Unfortunately, Barry didn't remain with the Cards long. But it was a brilliant performance, one I'm sure Susie could and did repeat as needed for that short, glorious time. But, alas, it's probably never to be repeated now.
Len on 09.22.05 @ 09:07 PM CST