This got me thinking, when is enough, enough? When is it time to hang up the cleats and pick up a pair of Nikes to run to the next chapter? Since there is no mandatory retirement age for Major League Baseball players, the answer is simply, "it depends." Some guys, like our buddy Nick, listened to their bodies and knew when to say when. Yet others wait a little too long.
June 2, 1935. A somewhat insignificant date at first glance to most, but if you ponder it for a bit, you may have a few guesses. Interestingly enough, it is the date that Babe Ruth retired. That’s right, in the middle of the season, ironically in Boston- not with the Red Sox, but with the Braves, Babe said good-bye. He played 28 games that season with his last being May 30th. He retired because he was done (read HERE), he was slowing down and his health was getting the best of him, so he left Nickerson Field (now on the campus of Boston University) and moved on to his next chapter in his short life- a coach for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Babe said enough is enough and moved on, but others linger too long.
Again, it does not have to do anything with age necessarily. Nick Johnson is only 34-years-old, the Bambino 40. Even though Jamie Moyer was released by the Colorado Rockies and waived by Toronto last season, he says, even at 50, he is not retired. But will he throw a pitch in 2013 at age 50? Can he throw a pitch? “I’m not retired, I’m not retired. I’m just kind of laying in the weeds and just trying to figure out what’s going on,” Moyer said. “I’m just going to step back after the season and assess what’s going on, and see how I feel and go from there,” said Moyer in an interview last season with NBC Sports’ Off the Bench, HERE.
If Jamie has the velocity to pitch, even at 50, someone should pick him up. You can never have enough leaders, let alone pitchers. And Jamie may have it but if he doesn’t, that’s okay, he will make a great coach, analyst, or some other kind of contribution to sports- maybe he will even make a second career in golf?
For the Love of the Game” stars an aging Detroit pitcher, Billy Chapel, who despite an injury to his pitching hand, battles back and pitches a no-hitter in yes, the greatest ballpark in the world, Yankee Stadium. Although fiction, the story is not uncommon. I think Mo has the possibility of having a great season. Even at age 42, Mo is an athlete who listens to his body. And after being “red shirted” or “sidelined” last season with a torn ACL, he wants one more shot, one more year. He should get it and if all goes as planned, he will perform the way he is visualizing.
See, Mo, is a true competitor, and after this season, he will move on. He will retire as a Yankee, the team that gave him his start. There is no better way to say goodbye than to do it graciously. I expect the same from Derek Jeter and I know that if he is not at his best this season, he will move to DH like many aging players do thankful for the American League position, graciously and eventually, retire, quietly because overstaying your welcome is no good for anyone.
As Cowboy Toby Keith so eloquently says in his ballad As Good As I Once Was:
"I ain't as good as I once wasSo for all of the fans of Jim Thome, Jason Giambi, Ichiro Suzuki, Derek Lowe and Omar Vizquel, I wish you and your players well this season and next, if it is realistic, but for some, just like Chipper Jones and our Great Bambino, let’s hope they bow out with dignity, and swallow their pride when their bodies say, enough is enough.
My how the years have flown
But there was a time back in my prime
When I could really hold my own…"
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--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Opinion Columnist
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