Former colleague Jayson Stark, now the most lyrical writer for ESPN.com, raised a disturbing issue in a column last week: Has Roger Clemens begun a trend with midseason free agency?
The Rocket has a standing offer from the Houston Astros to "unretire" and earn about $20 million for pitching the final four months of the season for his hometown team. The Yankees and Red Sox also are hoping to get into the bidding war should Clemens decide, at age 45, to pitch one more season.
"I just hope it doesn't transcend into more guys wanting to do that," Stark quoted one National League executive as saying. "But I think the groundwork has been laid. What would keep a [John] Smoltz from wanting to do it? What's to keep a [Mike] Mussina from wanting to do it?
"And it's easier [for a club] than going out and getting somebody [in a trade], because you don't have to give up any players. So I bet you'll see more of this."
Well, why not?
If your salary is, say, $18 million a season, playing four months would still bring in $12 million. It might take a little belt-tightening, but it's doable for most practical millionaires.
Let's say Barry Bonds passes Henry Aaron this season and becomes the all-time home run king. With no more numbers to chase, why not stay home 'til June and earn a nice paycheck while giving those tender knees a long rest?
Or what if Alex Rodriguez decides he really hates playing in New York after all? Why not negotiate a deal that involves playing only the road games? Half of A-Rod's salary would still buy a lot of groceries.
Creative contracts. It might be the wave of the future.
Trivia time. Florida entered college basketball history by winning its second straight NCAA men's championship. Other than UCLA, which won 10 of the 12 tournaments between 1964 and 1975, name the teams that won two straight titles before the Gators. (Hint: There are only five.)
Weather report. The following is from minorleaguebaseball.com, reporting on the first day of the season in the nation's more northerly climes.
Richmond at Buffalo, ppd., snow.
Connecticut at Portland, ppd., snow.
New Britain at New Hampshire, ppd., snow.
Altoona at Erie, ppd., wet grounds.
And here's a bonus: The Toronto Blue Jays' game at Detroit was postponed by cold weather.
April baseball. Bring your blanket.
Notable. Kentucky hasn't made it to the Final Four since winning the national championship in 1998, the longest drought between national semifinal appearances in school history.
Quotable. When Bob Huggins left Kansas State after one season to go to West Virginia, he had to pay K-State $100,000 as an exit fee.
Athletic director Tim Weiser, anticipating criticism for not including a heftier penalty in Huggins' contract, said: "I'm sitting here and looking at a $2.5 million buyout that John Beilein had [at West Virginia]. Boy, that did a lot of good, didn't it?"
Beilein had moved to Michigan earlier in the week.
Finally. Baseball's position as the national pastime has been under debate for decades.
But consider this: It may be more of the world's pastime than ours in a few years.
According to the commissioner's office, of 849 players on major-league rosters at the start of the season, 246 were born outside the 50 states. That comes to 29 percent, near the record 29.2 percent set in 2005.
But that's hardly the story. The commissioner's office also reported that 3,098 of 6,701 minor leaguers were born outside the 50 states, or 46.2 percent.
It's only a matter of years before Americans are the minority in what used to be the American sport.
Are we good at anything anymore?
Trivia answer. Oklahoma A&M (1945-46), Kentucky (1948-49), San Francisco (1955-56), Cincinnati (1961-62), and Duke (1991-92) all won two straight NCAA men's titles.