Yankee DH Billy Crystal from MLB
Photo by Kathy Willens of Associated Press
OK, we admit we were honked when the Yankees sprung the one-day minor league signing of 59 year old comedian Billy Crystal on the world. Of course he would get his day in the sun against the Pirates. They wouldn't dare bat him lead off against, oh, lets say the BoSox. Schilling might drill him.
But the more we thought about, the easier it was to come to grips with it. The Evil Empire did clear it with the Bucs first before announcing it. To a man, from management to the roster, they all seemed to have no problem with it. And if it was OK with Paul Maholm, it's OK with us.
After all, baseball is supposed to be a game, and it is the dog days of spring training when interest kinda lags among the fans. So lets have a little fun and stir up some good PR for a change. How often do the Pirates make the top fold of the NY sport pages?
Maholm did his part, striking out Crystal. And he had enough class to throw him nothing but heaters with something off them, no breaking stuff to embarrass him. Crystal did his part by softly hooking a foul down the first base line and working Maholm for a full count before whiffing.
And he did at least go down swingin', on ball four, if reports are accurate. (The word is out that Crystal has poor plate discipline, hehe.) Had he taken the pitch, Maholm had already decided what would be next, according to MLB.com. He told them "If I walked him, I was trying to pick him off." Playtime only lasts so long.
The Yanks were smart enough to bat him leadoff and kept him in the dugout and off the field so the circus could end quickly and the business of baseball could begin.
Maholm and Crystal exchanged autographed balls after the game and had nice things to say about one another to the merry media mob (several publications called him the "Yankee Quipper," with good reason.)
A win-win situation, especially when the Bucs end up with the victory after being no-hit by Mike Mussina for five but hanging in there long enough to take Jeff Karstens to school. Maholm traded zeroes with Moose, so obviously he wasn't too distracted.
Now if we can sign Michael Keaton next year, just before we play the Yankees...