This mania for embarrassing trades is starting to get out of hand.

A week ago, a minor-league pitcher was traded for a bag of bats. (No, not the flying mammals; the wooden kind.)

Yesterday, an NFL player was traded for a conditional last-round draft choice. In other words, Erasmus James was not even worth a last round pick . . . he only might be worth the last pick.

Just three years ago, James was the No. 18 overall selection in the draft as a highly touted defensive end out of Wisconsin. But after he suffered two left knee injuries, the Minnesota Vikings announced they were putting him on waivers.

However, the Washington Redskins called before the paperwork was filed and a deal was cut. Minnesota will receive a selection in the final round of next year's draft if James makes Washington's 53-man roster.

It's nice to be wanted.

As for the pitcher, John Odom is now with the Laredo Broncos of the independent United League. They got him last Tuesday from the Calgary Vipers of the Golden Baseball League for 10 bats.

Not just any bats, though - 10 Prairie Sticks maple bats, double-dipped black, 34-inch, C243 style.

According to the Prairie Sticks Web site, their maple bats retail for $69 each, discounted to $65.50 for purchases of six to 11 bats.

You do the math.

According to the Associated Press, the Vipers have a history of goofy trades. They once tried to acquire a pitcher for 1,500 blue seats when they were renovating their stadium.

Quotable. WIP-AM's Mitch Williams had one of the great lines of the century last week.

Williams was interviewing former Phillies slugger Greg Luzinski, a burly leftfielder of the 1970s who was not especially fleet of foot. In fact, he was a downright plodder.

A caller said he remembered Luzinski hitting an inside-the-park home run. Ever truthful, Luzinski said it had never happened.

Williams quipped: "For Greg to hit an inside-the-park home run, the three outfielders would have to collide and burst into flames."

This article contains information from the Associated Press.
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