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Maybe the Yankees are everyone's daddy. First there was Pedro Martinez announcing to the world that the Bronx Bombers had somehow sired him. Now there's Randy Johnson treating New York City's fine cameramen like his kids. My favorite part of the camera shove was when the Unit told the cameraman, "Don't talk back to me." What, is Johnson going to send him to bed without dessert for sassing him?
The brouhaha certainly isn't a good omen for the Johnson trade, a move that strikes me as odd because the Yankees made him, not Carlos Beltran, their prime target in the offseason. The Unit, 41, will probably dominate for the next year or two. But look at the Yankees' lineup. Of the 18 knees in their lineup, about seven are worth anything. (OK, in some cases it's a bad shoulder or hamstring or lower GI tract.)
Don't get me wrong; the Yankees are good -- as almost as good as they are old. In addition to bringing Johnson on board, the Bombers also signed 35-year-old Tony Womack, 37-year-old Tino Martinez and re-signed 39-year-old Ruben Sierra, who, I think, sat next to my dad in high school English class.
We're led to believe that with the Yankees money is no object. If that's so, why not get Beltran? The Yankees have been able to keep their dynasty (easy Sox fans -- New York has won the AL East seven years in a row) afloat by adding a cog here and a cog there. That gradual turnover can't happen, though, because within two years, if not sooner, the Yankees are going to need a new first baseman, second baseman, right fielder, center fielder and DH, not to mention at least two -- and most likely three -- top starters (Mike Mussina is 36). Mariano Rivera is not showing signs of slowing, but heis 35. And in 2006 Jorge Posada will turn 35, not a prime age for a catcher, especially one with a workload as heavy as Posada's has been in recent years.
It doesn't look like the Yankees have much homegrown help on the way, so they're going to have to go the free-agent route to overhaul the team. It's not going to be cheap -- or easy -- which is why passing on Beltran was short-sighted. Maybe the Boss' checking account isn't as flush as everyone thinks, but he's going to have to spend big sooner or later and it would have made sense to start sooner with an everyday player at a pivotal position. As for 2005, the Yankees should be really good. But for the kind of money they're being paid, you should be able to look at them and say they will be great for years to come. And that's not apparent.
For the 127 people who wrote in to call me an idiot for saying that Auburn could have given USC a better game than Oklahoma: The point being made wasn't that my hindisght is 20/20. It was, quite obviously, that the BCS does a rotten job picking the two best teams. And I've been saying in this very blog since November that Auburn was one of the two best teams in the country and was getting shafted.
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The best story you probably missed last weekend was the third round of the FA Cup. If you don't know what it is, it's a single-elimination tournament involving just about every soccer team in England. After a couple of early rounds with just the small teams, the big boys join in for round three. There's no bracket -- before every round the teams are drawn from a hat, which leads to some amazing matchups. Imagine a tournament featuring every major and minor league baseball team in America. Last weekend we saw Exeter, roughly the equivalent of a low A-ball team, tie Manchester United on the road. (The teams play a rematch at Exeter next week.) And, more incredibly, Yeading, a team of semi-pros whose goalkeeper is a benefits fraud investigator by day, held Newcastle scoreless for 50 minutes before gamely losing 2-0. How different are the sides? Newcastle draws about 50,000 fans to home games; Yeading's average attendance is 130. It's like a Northern League team almost beating the Red Sox. It's gripping stuff, and even if you hate soccer, I'd implore you to give it a shot. Fox Sports World shows a couple of FA Cup games every round.
Let's hope this couple has a happier marriage than the real item. A man and woman who go around England impersonating David and Victoria Beckham are going to tie the knot. They're really in love; it's not part of the act. The reception will include a George Michael tribute act. What, they couldn't find an Andrew Ridgely lookalike and have Wham?
There's a line in Spinal Tap where David St. Hubbins, upon being asked where Des Moines is, says, "It's in Indiana or something." From now on, we'll all know where Des Moines is. It's the place where this guy lives. He's a Wal-Mart greeter who was fired for repeatedly showing customers a picture of himself wearing nothing but a sack. (Not a sock, a sack.) Did I mention he's 65?
Idiot of the Week
We have an early contender for Idiot of the Year: a 19-year-old guy in Great Falls, Mont., who got himself wedged in a swing set. On a playground. On Christmas Eve. When it was 20 below. While naked. The cops and firemen used saws, boltcutters and grease to try to free him, to no avail. After cutting the whole swing set down and taking it indoors, a steel grinder finally did the trick.
Stay classy, and by all means, keep your pants on when riding the swings.
Mark Bechtel covers NASCAR for Sports Illustrated and SI.com.