Friday, March 14, 2008

Billy Crystal Lives The Dream

Despite pro basketball and MMA having captured the competitive spirit of today's young American male, the dream of every boy of my generation and the one before was to play big league baseball. From the first time you scrape your knees sliding into second in Little League...the first time you hear your dad yell for some more "chatter" in the outfield...the first time you feel the sting of the leather ball with red stitching ping off your aluminum bat...you crave it. Even if you're bad at it, and Lord knows I was. (My greatest feat was going 2 for 3 against the worst team in the league. That, and my streak of 21 straight walks followed by a stolen base was pretty stellar. I felt like Ricky Henderson, except scrawny and afraid to get dirty. I guess it paid to be short and slow to swing).

The point is, so very very few of us Little Leaguers ever hit the Bigs. After all, hitting a baseball is the hardest thing on earth. Think about it: what other sport celebrates players who only succeed (at best) about 30% of the time? Consider that no one has hit .400 or better since Ted Williams over 60 years ago - the same year as DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak!

That's why I have to applaud Billy Crystal's short stint with the New York Yankees this week. Sure, he's too old. Sure, he was never good enough. Sure, it was a bit of a publicity stunt (albeit far better than "Eliot Spitzer Night"). But here's to showing us all that a boy's dreams can indeed come true. Billy played one game - a pre-season exhibition against the Pirates. Like the mighty Casey, Crystal went down swinging. But he did make contact with the ball and - as Keanu says in Hardball - he "showed up." (Check out his at-bat below).

Said Crystal before the big game, "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."

Bravo, Billy. There may be no joy in Muddville, but I'm happy you reminded me what it felt like to pick up a bat, stare out at the fences knowing full well the ball probably wouldn't reach past the infield grass, but still take my cuts like a man and dream big.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Well, you know what they say, "Those who can, do. Those who can do more, teach"....or coach...you know ;)