Wednesday, December 14, 2005

+ = Sad

The story du jour concerns the impending retirement of the incomparable Rickey Henderson. Or does it? This guy has had more farewell tours than Cher, more comebacks than Grant Hill and enough misuses of the third person to kill a sixth grade english teacher. And just when it seems like he might finally hang up his cleats...his agent, Jeff Borris, announces that he will again try out for the Major Leagues. Barring one of the thirty members of America's favorite monopoly offering him a contract, he will return to the Golden Baseball League's most celebrated franchise (not to mention 2005 Champions), the San Diego Surf Dawgs.

The story broaches two major issues: what exactly is a Surf Dawg and why won't Rickey realize that it is time to retire? For the former question, I refer you to the Wikipedia. And for the latter question, I have absolutely no answer. Seeing Rickey in a Surf Dawgs uniform (and let's be honest, there can't be too many people willing to admit they've attended a GBL game and seen him in person) makes me sad. It reminds me of the time I saw "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka wrestle in college in the New England Championship Wrestling League. Jimmy looked less like an eagle soaring off the top ropes, and more like a competitor in the Red Bull Flugtag competitions endlessly promoted on TV.

How old is Rickey Henderson? Henderson is old enough to be Danny Almonte's father. He made his Major League debut while Theo Epstein was still soiling his Huggies. And he participted in "Billy Ball" (Billy Martin's style of play, not Billy Beane's). This past season, facing pitchers who were for the most part middle relievers at Division II schools, Henderson hit a whopping .270, with 5 home runs and 16 stolen bases. He used to be able to do that in a single weekend series.

The man made famous for saying "this is Rickey, calling on behalf of Rickey" and for framing a $1 million check (rather than cashing it) is slowly fading into oblivion. So what's preventing him from retiring? I think he doesn't know what to do with his free-time. We've seen what happens to other prominent MLB players when they retire (see Kirby Puckett's groping lawsuit, Steve Garvey's alleged children out of wedlock, Darryl Strawberry's crackpipe, etc). Reports suggest he may go into coaching...I can't wait to see the conversations he would have with players as a third base coach ("Rickey didn't send you home. Rickey said stop at third. Rickey can't believe you didn't listen to Rickey. Rickey holds the all-time runs scored record, dammit").

In conclusion, to all aging athletes (and Geraldo Rivera), I suggest you follow the advice of The Who, and f-fade away. Nobody likes a Karl Malone...


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