Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Age Forty: It's Not Just For Retirement Anymore

Greg Maddux threw a complete game the other night. Needed just 96 pitches to do it. Gave up five hits. Got his 336th career victory. He's 41 years old.

Julio Franco still plays a competent first base in a league where you can't be half a player to lengthen your career. He still hits a homerun here and there. He's 48 years old.

Roger Clemens just signed a one-year contract to grace the New York Yankees with his pitching presence. The contract is worth over $22 million. He's 44 years old.

Jamie Moyer keeps using his creaky left wing to chuck baseballs for the Philadelphia Phillies. He's 44 years old.

Since when did baseball sign a partnership with the AARP?

Ahh, Maddux was that age on his uniform ten years ago

Franco: Aww, let him play till he's 50; why not?

No, I think it's great. They say 40 is the new 30. I believe it. The Red Wings are being led on a long playoff run by a 45-year-old defenseman and a 42-year-old goalie. Kevin Willis, in his mid-40's, signed a late-season contract with the Dallas Mavericks. And the above mentioned ballplayers are still major contributors to their respective teams.

As for Chris Chelios, the 45-year-old defenseman, and Franco, I'm rooting for both of them to be active players at age 50. It could happen. Franco, in fact, reminds me of George Burns, the old actor/comedian. Many times I truly believed that Burns would never die. And I am getting the feeling that I will never see Julio Franco retire. He seems that constant. I mean, at this point, when do you finally say to him, "OK, Julio -- enough is enough"? The guy still plays, he still is a key component -- and for a pennant contender. Unreal.

Maddux, the spring chicken of this group, still throws with an efficiency that goes a long way toward explaining his longevity. It just doesn't seem to be all that hard for him on the mound. I didn't see the game Monday night against the Reds, his latest complete game, but I don't need to, to know that it was probably vintage Maddux. The numbers are there to confirm it -- the 96 pitches, the five hits. He probably got ahead of nearly every hitter and rarely went to a ball three count. Been there, done that.

Go, graybeards!


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