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When I heard the Yankees had a new star player earlier today, I wasn’t even remotely surprised, until I read who it was. It was Mr. Billy Crystal, the guy who hosts the Oscars, who starred in City Slickers and produced 61*, one of the best baseball movies ever made.
Hearing that Billy Crystal is playing for the Yankees was a pretty good sign for two reasons. First it just gives me another excuse to hate the Yankees (or Billy, for that matter). It gives me another excuse to pull myself away from classes and catch a ball game, even if it’s just spring training.
And, by giving the talking heads a fun little topic, it signals a realization that spring is finally here. More on that later, I’ve got some questions to ask myself about Mr. Crystal first.
But does he have any right to be on the field? Is he taking a valuable roster spot away from some rookie? And can he bat cleanup?
Like I said before, it’s spring training, bub. He’ll play two, maybe three innings and get a single at bat. He’s stealing nobody’s thunder, at least until he ad-libs after his one and only strikeout.
And Billy always seemed more of a leadoff guy, anyway.
Besides, it’s not like there’s no precedent, either.
George Plimpton pitched in an exhibition game, Bill Murray called a Cubs game from the booth and Paul Gallico crouched behind the plate. Sure, they were journalists, but they were living the dream, too.
Is it worthwhile to ask about his pay? The AP report makes no mention if he’s getting paid, only that he signed a one-day contract. If he is, is he donating the money to charity?
What if he’s paying for the right to be there, like Garth Brooks did a few years back? Is that going to line Mr. Steinbrenner’s pockets?
Who cares? It’s spring training; let the man live out a dream. I doubt he’s getting paid, even if some union stipulation says he should be.
Still, I like this story. Having just suffered through a terrible snowstorm that left something like two feet of snow all around my place, making it impossible to get outside on Saturday night to see Duke play North Carolina, I had finally gotten my fill of winter.
Snow? Blah. Ice? Double blah. Hockey? Call me when the playoffs start.
But baseball, the summer game, was on TV today. The lush green fields, crystal-blue skies and the warm weather of Legends field were just what I needed to see.
Who cares if it was meaningless or another Boston/New York game? Opening day, and spring, are just around the corner.
I can't wait, and by the sounds of things, neither can Billy.