Tampa, Florida - Living out every man's childhood dream and minor-leaguer's reality to play on a major league baseball team, Billy Crystal turned it into a nightmare by striking out today. Not because he went down swinging or because he did not have, what it takes to make it the major leagues like talent and discipline to begin with either. No. Rather because he did not have that on which to fall back on when you are all out of everything else: self-sacrifice and team spirit.
Most men if given the chance to play in a major league baseball game like him would have bit the bullet and willingly stepped into the path of that ball to get on base, just on pure blind faith that his teammates would have brought him home.
"He probably would have had to sit out the rest of the game, if it wouldn't have killed him," said a sportswriter, off the record. "But at least he would have gotten on base."
"Crystal for all his talk for the love of the game, doesn't really respect it or his teammates in my humble opinion," said "Smoky," a minor league player and Yankee fan at the game. "I mean I still like the guy, but he really doesn't know baseball. He just dreams of the glory of making the homerun, knocking one over the fence into the bleachers, but he's not willing to take the slow and painful path to get there, the other less glamorous way and stay there once you do."
Crystal's batting couch knew from day one that the chances were slim that he would get on base with his talent and heart alone. Something desperate had to been done, if Crystal was to fulfill his contractual obligation as a one-day minor-league baseball player, even if just for a day and in an exhibition game.
"I told Billy in the dugout," said the Yankee's batting coach. "Just before it was his turn at-bat: 'Billy, do you know what the difference between a pig and a chicken is when it comes to making ham and eggs for breakfast? The chicken only contributes to it, while the pig committed to it.' I guess he just didn't get it."
The third base coach then repeated the instructions to Crystal, relaying them to him using hand signals, to move into the path of the ball in order to get a walk to first base, but apparently, he did not pick up on any of that, either.
"You got to realize when you're on that plate, sure you're the star. The center of everybody's attention," added "Smoky". "But you got to check your ego at the door. Weigh what you think you can do to get on base with what you know. And believe that if you can just make it to first base, your teammates won't leave you out there. That's why I think it's America's favorite pastime, because it's all about freedom of choice, individualism and at the same time, not leaving a man behind. You, ah, know what I'm talking about, don't you?"
"I don't know maybe the guy was just afraid," said the sportswriter. "I know I don't have the guts to walk into a pitch just to get on base, do you?"