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What a joke!

BRADENTON, Fla. — Today is the Pirates’ lone day off during spring training. They’re back in action tomorrow and Thursday play the New York Yankees in Tampa.

But it appears the Yankees consider that game against the Pirates as a day off of sorts, too.

Comedian Billy Crystal will be in the Bombers’ lineup that day. Crystal, who has made a lot of money by basically doing the same old shtick since the early 1980s, was given permission by the Yankees and Major League Baseball to suit up. Crystal will wear uniform No. 60, as the game will be played the day before his 60th birthday.

Why is Crystal playing? Because he’s a Yankees fan and he’s a wealthy celebrity.

The Pirates are going to say all the right things about it — What a neat idea! It’s a terrific p.r. move for baseball! Wasn’t “City Slickers” a real knee-slapper?

But you’ve got to wonder if they don’t actually feel more like Pirates fan Tom Cuozzo, who today sent me this e-mail: “Do you see this as a slap in the face – (Crystal) suiting up against the Pirates? Why not the Red Sox? The Pirates are literally a joke! Where is the dignity from this ball club?”

Cuozzo is not alone. When I woke up this morning, I discovered this text message from my buddy Marty Caridi: “Who’s pitching? He should drill (Crystal) right in the back.”

Marty was joking, I’m sure. But the implication is clear: Why is it when a another team wants to make a mockery of the game, it chooses to do it against the Pirates?

You don’t have to be Billy Crystal to insert your own punch line there.

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