FanDuel - WFBC

March 11, 2008

Billy Crystal joins the Yankees.: The 59-year-old comedian will sign a one-day, minor league contract with the New York Yankees and play in Thursday’s exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, wearing #60, a day before his 60th birthday. Crystal said, “I’ve been waiting 50 years for this call ... I know this’ll be tougher than the Broadway Softball League, but I’m looking forward to helping the younger players, which by the way is all of them."

posted by worldcup2002 to baseball at 11:38 AM - 70 comments

Happy Birthday, Billy.

posted by worldcup2002 at 11:58 AM on March 11

Anyone can play against the mighty pirates. If Billy gets a hit off us, we may be turning in uniforms early this year. This will be a true test of our pitching staff.

posted by Debo270 at 12:16 PM on March 11

If I may do a Tony Reali impression for a moment: Over or under 1.5 foul balls for Billy Crystal?

posted by chicobangs at 01:02 PM on March 11

Who is throwing for Pittsburgh? As long as it's not Oprah, I would safely say under.

posted by hawkguy at 01:23 PM on March 11

If I may do a Tony Reali impression for a moment: That sounds like the Tony Reali from PTI not Around the Horn so lemme do my Michael Wilbon impression and say UNDER!! ZERO PERCENT!! He won't even make contact unless they throw it underhand.

posted by BornIcon at 01:51 PM on March 11

I like Crystal, but I hate this crap. He'll be taking away an at-bat or an inning in the field from some youngster who might be able to do something with it. You've got the fame and the fortune, Billy -- let a ballplayer have the ballplaying.

posted by wfrazerjr at 01:52 PM on March 11

Don't blame Billy. Blame the Yankees for providing the opportunity. It's not Billy's decision that affects this unknown youngster. Personally, I blame Gheorghe Muresan. That fucking movie changed a lot of lives and not necessarily in a good way.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 03:18 PM on March 11

Given some of the scrubs that get a chance to play at spring training, I'd say you could look at some of them and say, "Hey, that kid's taking an at bat away from Billy Crystal." I think it's good for team morale and spirit to do fun things like this. A little levity in March is a good thing before the grind of the long season.

posted by DudeDykstra at 03:21 PM on March 11

Whats the fun being rich and famous if you can't use it to do all the cool stuff us working slobs always dreamed of doing? I say go Billy go! Lay down a killer bunt, and pull a hamstring on the way to first base to honor all the guys who will never get the chance.

posted by yankee0758 at 04:33 PM on March 11

When's George Costanza going to get his chance? Would be fun to hear Steinbrenner over the PA going, "CostanzAH! Get out there!"

posted by worldcup2002 at 05:11 PM on March 11

Wool, or cotton?

posted by The_Black_Hand at 05:22 PM on March 11

I like Crystal, but I hate this crap. He'll be taking away an at-bat or an inning in the field from some youngster who might be able to do something with it. I can guarantee that a single at-bat isn't going to change the major league fortune of a player that doesn't already have a spot on the 25- (or 40-) man roster. I hope the pitcher just groves some 80mph fastballs down the middle and let him make contact.

posted by grum@work at 05:29 PM on March 11

This crap has been going on for years. Whether it was George Plimpton putting on the Helmet, or the little guy Bill Veck used to fill the stands, it's a show. Billy Crystal has probably greased the palm of someones charity to do this. The demeanor of the Pirates is critical tho.....They may throw at his head.

posted by scuubie at 05:31 PM on March 11

I can guarantee that a single at-bat isn't going to change the major league fortune of a player that doesn't already have a spot on the 25- (or 40-) man roster. Really, Grum? So if Billy leads off an inning and fans, that's going to help the kid who's trying to make the club or jump to Triple A and might have drawn a walk, stolen second and then scored on a short single to right? You'll have to explain to me how someone isn't getting boned out of an AB.

posted by wfrazerjr at 05:35 PM on March 11

Right, because it's 1920 and there are a ton of Moonlight Grahams in the Yankee system whom, if they don't receive one additional at-bat, will never be discovered.

posted by yerfatma at 07:36 PM on March 11

What are yall talking about? One at-bat is make or break a players career in spring training,,, you have got to be kidding. I thought that people here on Sportsfilter would be smarter than that. It used to be that way, oh so long ago. I think this is a great idea by the way. It will be a fun day, plus the youngsters playing in spring training can say one day that they played with Crystal. They will probably exagerate about the event but it would be cool.

posted by STUNNER at 08:47 PM on March 11

If I played for the Yankees, I'd rather play golf with Bill Murray, not baseball with Billy Crystal. Oh, to dream. With all the money Crystal has pumped into the Yankees, he deserves one at-bat. But maybe it could happen right before a game, kind of like a honorary first pitch. Get a flame-thrower on the mound, and bean-him. That way, no more celeb athlete wanna-be tries this anymore. (Secretly, I wish I was famous and could do this myself.)

posted by BoKnows at 08:58 PM on March 11

Good grief, this in no way will affect any one's chances of making the team. One, any player seriously being considered for the big leagues gets hundreds of at bats. This is not the summer league All-Star tryouts at which each poor kid gets 4 balls thrown to him. (the hundreds of at bats is not an exaggeration...these players have been watched from High School on) If the Yankees were seriously at the point of one at bat swaying their decision on a player, they'd have the guy bat, and have Crystal take someone else's spot. You'd have more of an argument of this making a difference if he were playing in an A league game.

posted by dviking at 09:09 PM on March 11

Right, because it's 1920 and there are a ton of Moonlight Grahams in the Yankee system whom, if they don't receive one additional at-bat, will never be discovered. So you're saying no one ever turned the head of a major-league organization because of a sequence of events that started from one at-bat in a spring training game? You don't have to be Moonlight Graham for that, yerfatma. You just have to be a borderline player struggling to make the big club -- and there's one Yankee who's losing an opportunity for some grandstanding bullshit. dviking, I'm fully aware of how many ABs and looks prospects get. Unfortunately, neither you or I can pick the one that may be the point where that prospect shines -- or conversely fucks up so badly the team knows he's not ready. Well, at least the Yankees will know Crystal isn't.

posted by wfrazerjr at 11:10 PM on March 11

You just have to be a borderline player struggling to make the big club -- and there's one Yankee who's losing an opportunity for some grandstanding bullshit. There's only one bench spot left on the big club. One random at-bat from a prospect isn't going to get them that spot. If they haven't dazzled Girardi by now they have already been optioned to the minors. Besides, by the looks of things that final bench spot will probably come down to either Jason Lane or Morgan Ensberg (and my money is on Ensberg making the team).

posted by goddam at 11:59 PM on March 11

I thought that people here on Sportsfilter would be smarter than that. We are. If you truly think that one at-bat is going to change the fortunes of some poor kid hanging on by his fingernails for a spot on the big club, you're wrong. And, if he's that close to not making the team, he's going to be sent down within the first couple of weeks of the regular season anyway. On edit: goddam is wise.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 06:20 AM on March 12

So you're saying no one ever turned the head of a major-league organization because of a sequence of events that started from one at-bat in a spring training game? Nowadays? Yes, I am saying that. There's so much data and analysis available on everyone still in camp that it would be an indictment of the Yankees scouting if one at-bat or one game revealed Deep Hidden Truths about a player.

posted by yerfatma at 06:40 AM on March 12

All I am saying is if I was on the mound with Billy at the plate, I am drilling him with a fast ball or at least going up and in on him first pitch. I would do it for that poor prospect he took a chance to play in the bigs away from.(sarcasm)

posted by Debo270 at 06:45 AM on March 12

Reversing the logic: What could happen is Billy Crystal takes the place of a player who has been performing well, and will probably make the cut. But if he hadn't been replaced by a celebrity in a game, would have gone 0 for 4, grounding out twice into double plays, dropping fly balls and generally stuffing up, thereby drawing attention to his weaknesses and leading to him being cut. Just a thought, but Billy Crystal saves a major league career.

posted by owlhouse at 07:21 AM on March 12

Hosts the Oscars and saves Major League careers. Wow. Billy Crystal - is there anything you can't do? I wish you were my dad.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:43 AM on March 12

Billy Crystal - is there anything you can't do? Get the price of oil below $100 a barrel. I live in hope, though.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:14 AM on March 12

I just don't get it. I understand what all of you are saying -- but it reads to me like, "Not every at-bat or pitch counts." I don't believe that. I think every at-bat, spring training or not, has some significance. Owlhouse, I already pointed out the possibility of the player screwing himself, but it doesn't matter which way the pendulum swings -- the guy's still not getting a shot. None of us are omniscient, so we have no idea what could or couldn't happen in that AB. Is it even remotely likely that it could change someone's fortunes? No, it isn't. But if you don't think players have been chosen for the last spot on the roster for their performance in one at-bat, I'd strongly disagree. Maybe it's a suicide squeeze by Ensberg or Lane going the other way on an outside pitch to move a runner, but how do those two actions not add up to showcasing what that players can do -- especially if it's something the staff has been trying to get a player to improve upon? Or maybe it's a kid who hasn't been shipped out yet who gets a hit against a tough pitcher. Does he make the team because of that at-bat? No, but does it put in the minds of the organization, "Hey, maybe we need to think about fast-tracking this one a bit?" Why wouldn't it? Folks, there's three weeks left in the spring schedule. This isn't the final game of Grapefruit League, where everything's already packed and all the decisions are made. What are the odds (despite goddam's link) that the decision does come down to Lane and Ensberg? The Yankees are positive there aren't going to be any injuries? No one else might be signed as a minor-league FA? *sigh* Fine, have it your way. As I said, I hold no grudge against Crystal himself, and if anyone deserves to be gifted in this sense, it's probably him. I just don't agree with it, and I think the reasoning being tossed out here -- let him have his at-bat because it doesn't matter anyway -- is pretty crappy. Where's erkno? I'd like to know what he'd think about this.

posted by wfrazerjr at 08:47 AM on March 12

What if that at-bat injures a unknown future star and he winds up never making the majors because he wasn't saved by a celebrity? What of that possibility?

posted by yerfatma at 09:48 AM on March 12

The outcome is not the issue. Taking the possibility of the outcome away from someone deserving is.

posted by wfrazerjr at 01:00 PM on March 12

All I am saying is if I was on the mound with Billy at the plate, I am drilling him with a fast ball or at least going up and in on him first pitch. I would do it for that poor prospect he took a chance to play in the bigs away from.(sarcasm) I'd do it for half the movies he's ever made. At least half of 'em.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 03:49 PM on March 12

Stupid move by the Yankees, sure, but I don't think it's all that devastating and damning for all the younger players Crystal will take time from. He will make an appearance and that will be it. I've got a pretty good idea the Yanks know what the roster they're going north with will look like, and where everyone else pretty-much fits into the picture.

posted by dyams at 03:58 PM on March 12

I don't believe that. I think every at-bat, spring training or not, has some significance. It's very simple: if every at-bat had significance, then the Yankees wouldn't be letting Billy Crystal have his fun. If the Yankees themselves don't give a damn, and the players don't give a damn, why should any of us give a damn?

posted by grum@work at 04:28 PM on March 12

What if that at-bat injures a unknown future star and he winds up never making the majors because he wasn't saved by a celebrity? What of that possibility? Maybe Crystal takes a set of spikes in the groin, instead of an unknown future star?

posted by grum@work at 04:28 PM on March 12

If the Yankees themselves don't give a damn, and the players don't give a damn, why should any of us give a damn? *points at nose*

posted by wfrazerjr at 04:47 PM on March 12

I like Crystal, but I hate this crap. He'll be taking away an at-bat or an inning in the field from some youngster who might be able to do something with it. Com'on now, we're talking about Spring Training here, not Game 7 of the World Series. These games don't even count and after all the talk that we been hearing about steroids this off season, what's so wrong about having a little fun? Who is this really gonna hurt? If an 'unknown future star' hasn't impressed Girardi by now then maybe they do need to spend more time in the minors.

posted by BornIcon at 09:08 AM on March 13

The outcome is not the issue. Taking the possibility of the outcome away from someone deserving is. I don't think the problem with your argument is with the possibility, it's the weight you're giving one possibility.

posted by dfleming at 09:09 AM on March 13

Mental exercise: When spring training is over and the go-north-25 rosters are set, let's go over the list of players who didn't make the Yankees' cut and try to determine which one of them would have benefitted from the extra couple of at-bats, and might have grabbed that last spot from someone else. If someone can find me a legitimate case where a player might have lost his chance at the majors because of this stunt, I'll concede that it shouldn't have happened.

posted by grum@work at 12:21 PM on March 13

You can all stop fussing and fighting about the what-ifs. He's going to be batting leadoff in place of Johnny Damon.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 12:22 PM on March 13

He struck out on 6 pitches. Cody Ransom, oh what could've been.

posted by goddam at 12:44 PM on March 13

He didn't put it into play but at least he made contact on one of the pitches.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 02:01 PM on March 13

He didn't look too bad for a guy 59 years old. Really, not bad at all.

posted by THX-1138 at 01:03 PM on March 14

THX I agree. Even on the swinging strikes, he looked like he took some wicked cuts. I bet he could be a bad ass on a senior league beer league squad.

posted by hawkguy at 01:27 PM on March 14

I'm sure that if Billy Crystal had been given another at-bat, instead of letting some big-name celebrity (like Alex Rodriguez) take it from him, he wouldn't have been cut by the Yankees today.

posted by grum@work at 07:49 PM on March 14

Truly a tragedy, grum. A good kid like that, cut before he even had a decent chance to prove himself. Hopefully he'll land on his feet.

posted by THX-1138 at 09:11 PM on March 14

Those one-day contracts just aren't fair to the athletes! Screw Steinbrenner!

posted by dyams at 07:28 AM on March 15

Mental exercise: Can we try to understand that one at-bat isn't just one at-bat? That one at-bat can develop into other opportunities? Is that so hard to fathom? Take Bernie Castro. He's 28 years old, a minor-league journeyman who has had sniffs with Baltimore and Washington. Castro spent all of last season at Triple A Columbus. So far this spring, Castro's gotten nine ABs and two hits -- not much of a showing, and not much of a chance to show. But Bernie has speed, and lots of it. He stole 34 bases last season, and is a good bunter. Suppose Bernie gets to lead off against the Pirates, and he works a walk. Girardi wants to see his work against a left-hander pickoff move, so he gives him the green light. Castro works on Paul Maholm, draws a couple throws to get the timing and a read, then steals second cleanly. Now the two-hole hitter slaps a single to right. Castro gets a good jump and the third-base coach knows Girardi wants to see this guy run, so he sends him even though he might be thrown out. The throw is a good one, just up the line to the first-base side, but Castro does a masterful job of reading the play and goes to the outside of the bag, just getting past Ryan Doumit to tag the plate. Isn't it possible Girardi looks at this sequence and thinks, "We should take another look at this guy. We were going to send him down, but maybe a few more at-bats..."? Or maybe it means they keep Castro at Triple A for another season instead of letting him go. Why does that seem so improbable? The reverse is also true If Castro goes up and fans on three pitches, including a third strike in the dirt, Girardi's suspicions are confirmed -- good wheels, but can't lay off. Back down he goes. Grum, you've been the most vocal about tangible proof of someone not making the roster -- if Castro gets released by the Yankees completely before the end of spring, can you provide me evidence that one at-bat couldn't have helped changed the course of his year and the remainder of his career? For me, the bottom line is -- yes, it's good fun, and yes, I laughed and rooted for Crystal. But how does having Billy bat help you learn anything about your club? And if that's not important, why are you playing spring training games at all?

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:18 AM on March 15

Screw Steinbrenner! Yeah! And screw all you Yankees fans. And Red Sox fans. I hate this thread. Boorrriiinnnggg! Just like soccer! I hate that stuff too. And the Patriots are the devil and their coach is a poorly outfitted nevish. Sorry, I just really had to take a piss.

posted by tahoemoj at 01:45 PM on March 15

So more seriously. Fraze, I completely see your point, but just disagree with the magnitude of the issue. Sure, there's a chance that some young kid trying to get noticed lost out on an opportunity, although I think the disagreement is on how slim that chance was. When you look, most importantly, at the organization involved, it really seems to be incredibly unlikely that one AB could start a series of events in motion to place someone on the roster. If it was a young, inexperienced team like the Reds or the Devil Rays, for example, the chance might be greater. When you look at the Yankees and see someone like Morgan Ensberg as a potential roster filler, it seems really unlikely a fresh face would rise from nowhere to claim that spot. So that slim chance was taken into consideration, I'm sure, and then looked at along with the morale boost that Crystal, as a long-time high-profile fan, could bring to a clubhouse. Add the positive publicity to be gained by giving him the chance to do this, and the incredibly outside chance of a genuine opportunity being lost seems pretty trivial. I'm sure the Yankees front office looked at a ton of factors before letting Mr. Crystal have his moment in the sun.

posted by tahoemoj at 02:45 PM on March 15

wfrazejr, your mental exercise is definitely possible. But I agree with tahoe about the magnitude of the AB when the team in question is the Yankees. After reading the thread and posts I decided to pose the question to a local sportswriter who has been covering the St. Louis Cardinals for years. I explained to him the discussion happening here, then posed this question: Will a franchise put a player on the roster because of ultimately, one at-bat? His response was: In my opinion, no. Moreover, in spring training games there are quite a few meaningless at-bats, taken by guys who have no chance to make the team but they get the opportunity for different reasons. Maybe it's a split squad, and the team has two different games going on at the same time. Maybe because of injuries. Maybe because regular players are resting. Managers use so many hitters in these games that one AB by a celeb is of no consequence whatsoever. While I wouldn't consider any opinion as "religion", I think he nailed it on the head. I didn't ask him in order to prove anybody right or wrong, I asked simply to get an opinion from someone who has routine contact with a MLB team and personnel. Finally, Crystal did alright, much better than I expected. Cheers to him. Do you think he sat on the bench doing the "Hey batter, batter" thing?

posted by BoKnows at 03:24 PM on March 15

Do you think he sat on the bench doing the "Hey batter, batter" thing? I don't know, but he did screw LaTroy Hawkins' shoes to his locker.

posted by goddam at 04:08 PM on March 15

Grum, you've been the most vocal about tangible proof of someone not making the roster -- if Castro gets released by the Yankees completely before the end of spring, can you provide me evidence that one at-bat couldn't have helped changed the course of his year and the remainder of his career? Sure: Bernie Castro's minor league numbers: In 3134 plate appearances, he has a .700 OPS. He has more strikeouts than walks, and virtually no power (sub .360 SLG). He plays a position that is currently occupied by Robinson Cano, a player that is 2.5 years younger than him and is considered one of the premier players at his position in the American League. The Yankees think that Bernie Castro is so important to their future and has the potential to make the big club that they've given him a total of 9 at-bats. Either he's going to make the squad as a backup (so they don't feel the need to watch him anymore), or he has almost no hope of making the squad in the first place (so they are giving at-bats to players that they plan to keep in the majors, like Chris Woodward, who is tearing the cover off the ball in spring training). It is a RARE event that a player who has sucked in the minors has had such a spectacular spring training that he's made the big league team. The usual path is performing well in the minors during April/May and getting a call-up when injury/suckitude require it (example: Derek Jeter in 1995), regardless of your spring training performance. Yes, you could do the "what-if" scenario all you want and propose a story where the unheralded player catches his manager's eye. However, you are more likely to be watching a case where Girardi put Castro in the lineup to give someone else a rest and really doesn't care what Castro does because he and the GM have decided that Woodward is the back-up middle infielder to start the season, and Castro is going to fill the roster spot at AAA until needed. Finally, Crystal didn't take any struggling minor-leaguer's at-bat; he took Johnny Damon's, rendering this entire mental exercise moot.

posted by grum@work at 04:10 PM on March 15

Grum@work, the king of statfu.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 05:12 PM on March 15

Answering in order: Tahoe, it is a disagreement over the value of an at-bat. I agree the chances are slim for that single AB to do much of anything -- but slim is greater than none, which is the value gained by the giving of a plate appearance to a 60-year-old comedian. As for the morale issue, if you need to have Shecky Greene come in and provide comic relief to boost your troops, something is seriously fucked up in your clubhouse. Bo, did you ask Rick Hummel? And if you did, the question you posed doesn't exactly frame my argument. The question would be more like: Could an outstanding at-bat for a borderline major leaguer earn him a bench spot, or at least make the organization be more likely to keep him around in the minors rather than waive him at the end of spring training? In my eyes, no one could honestly answer that question in the negative, and then logically, no club should be wasting at-bats. There's something to be gained from every one of them, and I don't mean in a touchy-feely lovefest sort of way. Oh, and if you see Jeff Gordon, tell him I said hi. Grum, none of what you listed is tangible proof. I wasn't actually expecting any, because I don't think it's possible to have it in this case, is it? It's all subjective, even if Crystal tears a hammy in the on-deck circle, Castro bats, homers and makes the team. The Yankees could still say, "Nah, we had him on the team the whole time." You use stats to make a good case for why Castro probably won't make the team, but I think you make my argument also by proving that it's something more than stats that keeps a ballplayer around. Who could possibly use the AB more than Castro, a guy the Yankees think highly enough of to have kept in Triple A all season last year even though they have Robinson Cano in front of him? The organization apparently sees something in Castro that keeps him useful to them. If anyone needs a place to show what he could do, it's Bernie, and if he doesn't get another at-bat before the end of the spring, that will mean Billy Crystal got 10% of his time at the dish. (Yes, yes, I know Damon was supposed to lead off. But Castro could have led off, or if Damon had led off the game, he might have been taken out after the third AB and Castro comes off the bench. Or someone else. It's a lost AB no matter who misses it, and I don't think -- especially in spring training -- that you can say, "Oh, that was Damon's AB he took.") I'll close that in Roger Angell's terrific Memories of Summer, he writes about Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis clowning around out on the field during spring training with the New York Giants. When the same request was made of the Cleveland Indians, general manager Hank Greenberg said, "Absolutely not. Do I send my ballplayers on to the sets of your damned movies?" I'd feel the same as a manager. I'm here to evaluate talent and run a ballclub. You want to hobnob with movie stars, go sit courtside with Jack. Where's erkno?

posted by wfrazerjr at 09:59 PM on March 15

Who could possibly use the AB more than Castro, a guy the Yankees think highly enough of to have kept in Triple A all season last year even though they have Robinson Cano in front of him? You are misinterpreting his value to the Yankees. They don't think "highly" of him. He's minor league fodder. He's too old to be a prospect, and too bad to get any real major league chances. This guy is in AAA (quickly becoming the garbage dump for teams with crappy veterans or failed prospects, where AA is the true prospect storage area) to cheaply fill a roster spot. Someone has to play 2B for the Columbus Clippers. If Castro asks for more money, or demands a chance to play in New York, they'll simply cut him and grab some other roster-filler...unless there is a real prospect on the way, or Cano is down in AAA to rehab an injury. If anyone needs a place to show what he could do, it's Bernie, and if he doesn't get another at-bat before the end of the spring, that will mean Billy Crystal got 10% of his time at the dish. Or someone else. It's a lost AB no matter who misses it, and I don't think -- especially in spring training -- that you can say, "Oh, that was Damon's AB he took.") But you can. Crystal was the DH. Then Damon. If Castro had any future, he could have been in the lineup. Cano was the 2B. He was replaced by Alberto Gonzalez (no, not that guy). If Castro had any future, he could have replaced Cano. There were many chances for Castro to play that same game that Crystal did, and they didn't use him. You chose the wrong player to try and make an example of, wfrazerjr. You might have been able to make a point if you picked Chris Woodward (if he wasn't hitting a TON right now), or if Crystal had pitched (where innings are more important than at-bats), or if the team he batted for wasn't loaded with veterans and a virtually set lineup (instead of the Yankees, he batted for the Royals/Marlins). "Absolutely not. Do I send my ballplayers on to the sets of your damned movies?" I've never heard of that happening before. I think it would be a novel idea.

posted by grum@work at 10:52 PM on March 15

Bo, did you ask Rick Hummel? No, but if you're familiar with Rick Hummel, (the other) Jeff Gordon and The Post Dispatch, then you're third choice would be the right one. And if you did, the question you posed doesn't exactly frame my argument. Maybe not, but the build up I gave him, wfrazejr, you would be proud. I didn't short anyone's argument, yours included. I absolutely understand your point-of-view, I just don't think a MLB franchise is blind enough to let a player slip through the cracks if that player is capable of what you describe. Those professional attributes are what got the player to spring training in the first place.

posted by BoKnows at 11:33 PM on March 15

Who could possibly use the AB more than Castro, a guy the Yankees think highly enough of to have kept in Triple A all season last year even though they have Robinson Cano in front of him? Castro wasn't in the Yankees organization last year. Columbus became the AAA team of the Nationals in '07 (Scranton is now the Yankees affiliate.) The Yanks signed Castro in off-season.

posted by goddam at 11:47 PM on March 15

As I said earlier, if Crystal had been playing in an A league game, maybe even a AA game, you'd have more of a point about him taking the "career making" AB away from someone. As it was, it was the Yankee's Major League team. And, he took one of Damon's AB's. Damon will be on the roster, so no damage done. To speculate that Castro, or anyone else, was going to get that AB is silly. As grum pointed out, there were multiple opportunities had the Yankees wanted to see one more AB out of anyone. let it rest, it was a publicity stunt, nothing more.

posted by dviking at 12:33 AM on March 16

Thanks for the correction, goddam. I still can't really figure out why the Yankees picked up Castro in the first place. So grum, why does the player matter? I chose Castro -- you choose Woodward. The same argument fits no matter where he bats in the lineup. It could be any Yankee, but whichever one you choose, they have one less AB for a publicity stunt. None of this takes into consideration my original point, and the other either I'm making really poorly or none of you believe -- you can't say with any certainty how one single AB is going to affect someone's future. I keep seeing it boiled down to, "That missed at-bat isn't going to make someone's career," which is not at all what I've been saying. I look at every at-bat as a possible more streamlined butterfly effect, one that doesn't spread to others, just to the player's career. If you've played any sport, you know many times success breeds success, and one good AB leads to confidence and another good AB. That's what I hate to see pulled from someone else -- the chance. I won't drag it out any more, but if you don't believe that's important, I understand. You believe organizations have everything covered to a point where each AB isn't particularly noteworthy, and I hope they do. I just wouldn't waste one anyway, and if I were running a team and you came to me wanting to do it, I'd have the same reaction Hank Greenberg did -- and you'd be canned. Grum, I'd say inviting in ballplayers to be ballplayers in a movie is a bit different than inviting comedians to be ballplayers in a game and not remotely close to the point I was making. However, maybe we can both agree that Derek Jeter and Wayne Gretzky should never appear on a sketch-comedy show again.

posted by wfrazerjr at 09:54 AM on March 16

So wait, because of Billy Crystal, the Yankees cut Johnny Damon?

posted by The_Black_Hand at 11:01 AM on March 16

none, which is the value gained by the giving of a plate appearance to a 60-year-old comedian. I guess we just disagree on that one. if you need to have Shecky Greene come in and provide comic relief to boost your troops, something is seriously fucked up in your clubhouse. It doesn't have to bee need-based. While in business, these men are indeed playing a game. There's sometimes no replacement for the comeraderie and morale a simple act on the part of the front office can provide. Who knows what it's effect will be. Most of the kids on that team might have no freakin clue who Billy Crystal is, but some might have gotten a bit of a thrill out of hanging out and lacing up the spikes with the old guy from City Slickers and the Oscars. I think you underestimate the potential benefits of a diversion like this one. We definitely agree that Gretzky should stay away from sketch comedy and Jeter should never, ever be seen in a leather miniskirt again!

posted by tahoemoj at 01:43 PM on March 16

Grum, I'd say inviting in ballplayers to be ballplayers in a movie is a bit different than inviting comedians to be ballplayers in a game and not remotely close to the point I was making. However, maybe we can both agree that Derek Jeter and Wayne Gretzky should never appear on a sketch-comedy show again. Actually, the last link was Sandy Koufax appearing on a couple of television shows as just a bit player. Do you think the Studio Actors Guild complained about him taking the spot of some young actor? Maybe that appearance by the actor as "Policeman" could have shown the director that he is capable of standing still in the background, and opening doors and saying "Yes, sir." It isn't much, but it could have been enough to get him a regular role on a crime drama. So if Sandy Koufax is allowed to steal jobs from meaningless background actors, then I think it's fair that Billy Crystal is allowed to have one single at-bat in a spring training game.

posted by grum@work at 04:19 PM on March 16

Overall, I was impressed by the approach Crystal took to the entire event. He looked to be taking things seriously, even during workouts prior to the game, and actually didn't look any worse than most pitchers who go up and take cuts every National League game. In the end, he took part in one at-bat. This is still baseball, a game, not landing airplanes at LAX.

posted by dyams at 07:20 AM on March 17

So a spring training AB is of the same importance as a non-speaking role on a TV show? I think that sums up our difference quite nicely. I agree, dyams. If there was anyone in the world who deserved this, it's Crystal, who has been a non-stop love fountain for the game since I can remember. He didn't look any worse than Willie McGee used to look on a few swings. The difference is, Willie might hit the next pitch at his shoetops for a triple in the gap.

posted by wfrazerjr at 09:03 AM on March 17

So a spring training AB is of the same importance as a non-speaking role on a TV show? From the perspective of a struggling actor who had similar stuff happen to him - it's important. But it also happens all the time. Fraze, I appreciate the position, but I don't agree. The Yankees did this the 'right' way. They gave Crystal the spot of their starting centrefielder. Their back-up centre fielder is already assured a spot on the bench and probably will get 60-70 starts anyway (Cabrera). So there isn't an available spot there. They didn't supplant a middle infielder with a shot to make the big club, or entrench his status as first call-up. They used the DH. They used one at bat. The speculation that this one at bat could have changed the fortunes of a player in camp is as viable as the notion that the same player could have suffered an injury during the same chance (maybe he pulls a hammy running down the line? He misses the rest of spring training and and a younger guy gets called up from Single A to take his spot in Triple A.) It can happen both ways. Plus - how many spots do you think are open on this club? Far as I can tell, there are a few major leaguers who aren't going to make this team, let alone some other guy. And the truth is - Spring Training is now a bunch of known quantities and a chance to make sure guys are healthy. Most of the 'surprises' are found in winter ball and the Caribbean league and they get an invite to spring training based on that performance. I can appreciate the romantic idea of the 'just one chance' kinda story, but with the money invested in a lot of these players you'll see a guy like Castro come in and hit .400 over several at bats in the spring and still not make the team.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 03:54 PM on March 17

Wow, I just thot this was a fun story when I posted it. But you guys have taken it to another level. I'm not sure what that level is, but it sure ain't where I had it. My work here is done.

posted by worldcup2002 at 05:43 PM on March 17

So, to summarize: I think many bright people here have proven that this is a really stupid fucking argument. (not to be construed with thread pissing)

posted by THX-1138 at 09:52 PM on March 17

Again, my point is that I think every AB counts. Everyone else in the world feels otherwise. I'm fine with that, and if that trip to the plate was going to be wasted (in my opinion), Billy Crystal's a fine guy to waste it on. Fair enough. Thanks for your input, THX. I'd say that despite my disagreeing with Grum, Weedy, Tahoe and BoKnows, the argument was carried out on both sides with honour and intelligent discourse. Feel free to go fuck yourself.

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:22 PM on March 17

the argument was carried out on both sides with honour and intelligent discourse And according to Her Majesty's Rules for Sporting Discourse. Well, right up 'til the end anyway.

posted by yerfatma at 06:14 AM on March 18

Yeah, well, upon reflection ... I should go fuck myself. Not for carrying out my argument (which should have been done with several of you over St. Patrick's Day pints), but for that unnecessary outburst. My apologies, THX.

posted by wfrazerjr at 09:27 AM on March 18

Don't recall requesting an apology, 'fraze. I did look without luck for the honour and intelligent discourse part, though. In my defense, I was drunk as a sailor last night. Good to see I can start a fight from thousands of miles. Hope there's no hard feelings, Mr. wfrazerjr. I'm starting to needlessly piss people off around here. My work is nearly complete. Oh well, I best get busy. Fucking myself sounds like an all day job.

posted by THX-1138 at 10:30 AM on March 18

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