Lucille Ball Was 34
In the entertainment world, much has been made about 40
being the new 20 recently. Singer Sheryl Crow, for one, has been trying to
peddle this new philosophy over the past couple of years.
I'm not buying it. 40 is 40, and 20 is 20. Sure, we've
got pilattes now, and long distance running and fancy health clubs. But
people have looked good in their 40's long before the last decade.
Lucille Ball was born in 1910 – which means she was
43-48 during the height of the “I Love Lucy” series. And she looked good.
40 was 40 then. Katherine Hepburn looked good in her 40’s. Bette Davis,
Rosalind Russell.. most actresses did.
Maybe Crow was talking about the plastic surgery and
botox that’s available today. But that can’t be it because look at Meg
No, 40 is 40 and I think Crow was just trying to make
herself feel good.
34 and Done
In baseball, we've been tricked into believing that
with all the exercise regimens, and personal trainers, and so much money
at stake, ballplayers are keeping themselves in tip-top-shape and playing
well late into their thirties and even forties. This is a mirage; it's
only true for pitchers, and it's always been true for pitchers.
For hitters, 34 is 34 and has always been. It’s the age
when most hitters have a big drop off in their hitting numbers. You name
the baseball hitter, most likely his statistics fell off the map when he
was 34. It’s the magic age. No matter how much today’s ballplayers work
out to prolong careers and cash in on million-dollar salaries, 34 is 34.
Hand-eye coordination and reflexes just drop off; injuries that used to
take a week to heal take a month.
Go ahead, name a hitter
Mike Piazza – broke down in 2003 at age 34 (click on link -- age is
given in second column from left)
Bernie Williams – broke down in 2003 at 34.
Roberto Alomar – fell apart at age 34.
Graig Nettles – had a dropoff at 34 and never hit more than 20 homers
Danny Tartabull – done at 34.
Reggie Jackson – at 35 he bottomed out. Had one more good year at 36,
then that was it.
Jim Rice – the beginning of the end at 34.
Don Mattingly – done at 34.
Robin Ventura – bottomed out midway through his 34th year.
John Olerud – first bad year at age 34 in 2003.
Kent Hrbek – done at 34.
Kirby Puckett – done at 34.
Tom Brunansky – done at 34.
Mickey Mantle – big drop off at 33.
It goes on and on.
With this said, you can now see how the evidence that
mounts on when
Barry Bonds started taking steroids. Bonds had a drop-off year at 34,
and then was magically rejuvenated to become as potent a hitter -- even
more potent -- than he had been before, as he aged into his late thirties.
Pitching Is Different
As we said, pitchers are a different story. Different
position; different parts of the body used to perform the game. It's all
about legs, and arm, and delivery, and plus a pitcher can fool hitters
with off-speed pitches mixed in with occassional heat as they age.
Pitching well does not require quickness of reflexes.
Anyway I wish Jason Giambi well. I got my own shit
going on with Father Time, so if Giambi wins, strike one up for all of us.
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