Aging

40

58 Comments

This has nothing to do with baseball. I wrote it on my personal blog this morning, but (a) some folks asked me to share it with a wider audience; and (b) you all don’t get enough of my opinions and views and stuff, so I figured, sure, lets go with it. And what are you gonna do about it anyway? Stop me? Come at me, bro. I know all the passwords to this blog.

At least I think I do. I’ve been forgetting so many things lately. And it’s cold in here and …

When I was younger I was led to believe that 40 was old. Sometimes I feel a bit old, but it’s a good old. Old in terms of a certain kind of temperament which makes loud music seem annoying, too much rich food seem like excess and a quiet evening at home followed by a 10:30 bedtime seem like an ideal Saturday night.

Which is fine, because I’ve felt that way about such things since I was in my 20s. On some level you are who you are no matter how old you actually are. I don’t, however, feel old in the ways that matter.

Today, on my 40th birthday, I weighed in at 180 pounds, which is the lightest I’ve been since before I ceased growing at age 15. It’s amazing what cutting out excess sugar and carbohydrates does for a 40 year-old body. It’s amazing what moderation — a little bit of good whiskey or wine instead of a lot of cheap beer — will do for one’s spirit, body and soul.

Today, on my 40th birthday, I am preparing to get on a plane to New York to cover Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game for NBC. I am working a job that is exactly what I want to do and that, as such, is not truly work. I didn’t think this would ever happen when I was 35 and I wouldn’t dare dream of such a thing when I was 30. But I’m doing it and I still pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

Today, on my 40th birthday, I will greet my waking children with more vigor and alertness than I did when they were babies and I was in my early 30s. Unlike then I know what I’m doing now. I know what they need from me and know that I am capable of giving it. And I feel like they realize this too. They are my children and I am their father but they are also my best friends. And for all of the adversity the past couple of years has thrown at us, we are making a wonderful life for ourselves.

Today, on my 40th birthday, I will see my parents, who live close to me and remain close, and I will speak to my brother who lives far from me yet still remains close. I know so many people who have complicated relationships with their families yet, here I am, at age 40, closer to them than I was when we all lived together as a I grew up.

Today, on my 40th birthday, I woke up next to a beautiful, smart and thoughtful woman who cares for me and understands me and knows that, no matter what life throws at us, she can talk to me and I can talk to her and that we’ll make sense of the world together because we trust each other and love each other and yes, goddamn it, it really is that simple if you let it be.

Today, on my 40th birthday, I hear the music and language of young people and I see their styles and their problems and, rather than feel threatened or superior, I take comfort in knowing that there will always be youth and that they provide the fuel that drives us forward.

Today, on my 40th birthday, I likewise see the old, what they’ve made of this world and how they face their twilight years and, ultimately, their oblivion. I understand that I will one day be where they are. This causes me to carry less anger and resentment for my elders than I have harbored in the past and, somehow, brings me a strange sense of comfort. I neither lament the passing of time nor pretend that time does not march on.

Today, on my 40th birthday, I own all of the miles on my odometer. I look forward to what is left of my hair turning gray and my body growing tired. I know I am getting older and will one day die. But I also know that will not happen for a very long time and that between now and then I have a lot of life to live and a lot of things to do. That I will plan and strive and fight and live like a man who still has much left to do and prove.

Today, on my 40th birthday, I am at greater peace with myself, my life and my world than at any time I can remember. I feel like I can see for miles in any direction and that I can conquer any problem that comes my way no matter how big it is.

Years may give you wrinkles, a bald head and aches and pains. But years don’t make you old. You only grow old if you let yourself. By losing your enthusiasm, your curiosity and your ideals. By becoming someone your younger self would have hated. By that measure I don’t feel old at all. And I feel very happy to be 40.

The Yankees are paying $86 million for a one-inning reliever

chapman
9 Comments

OXON HILL, MD — The Yankees signing of Aroldis Chapman late Wednesday night came as something of a surprise. And the money — $86 million — was something of a shock. Yes, we knew that Chapman was going to break the bank and likely set a record as the highest paid relief pitcher in history, but seeing it in black and white like that is still rather jarring.

In the coming days, many people who attempt to analyze and contextualize this signing will do so by pointing to the 2016 playoffs and the unconventional use of relievers by Terry Francona and the Indians and Joe Maddon of the Cubs. They’ll talk about how the paradigm of bullpen use has shifted and how relief pitchers have taken on a new importance in today’s game. Chapman’s astronomical salary, therefore, will be described as somehow more reasonable and somewhat less shocking than it first seems.

Don’t buy that jive for a second.

Yes, Andrew Miller and, to some extent, Chapman himself were used unconventionally in the 2016 playoffs, but not long into the 2017 season we will see that as an exception, not the rule. And not just because Chapman showed himself unable to hold up to that level of use in the playoffs. It will be the exception because the Yankees have shown no inclination whatsoever to deviate from traditional bullpen usage in the past and there is no reason to expect that they will do so with Chapman in the future.

As you no doubt remember, the Yankees had Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller for the first half of 2016. Such an imposing back end of a bullpen has rarely been seen in recent history. All of them, however, were used, more or less, as one-inning-a-piece guys and no real effort was ever made to break any bullpen usage paradigms or to shorten games the way many applauded Terry Francona for doing in the playoffs.

Miller pitched 44 games for the Yankees, totaling 45.1 innings. He pitched more than a single inning on only three occasions. Chapman pitched 31 games for the Yankees, amassing 31.1 innings. He was used for more than one inning only twice. Betances worked in 73 games, totaling 73 innings. On 11 occasions he pitched more than one inning.  It was unconventional for a team to have three relievers that good, but they were not, in any way, used unconventionally. Nor is there any reason to expect Chapman to be used unconventionally in 2017, especially given that Miller is not around and Chapman has shown no real ability to be stretched for multiple innings for a sustained period.

None of which is to say that having Chapman around is a bad thing or that he is any less of a closer than his reputation suggests. It’s merely to say that the Yankees paying Chapman unprecedented money for a closer should not be justified by the alleged new importance of relief pitchers or that changing role for them we heard so much about in the playoffs. Indeed, I suspect that that changing role applies only to pitcher use in the playoffs. And I do not suspect that this transaction alone pushes the Yankees into serious playoff contention, making that temporary unconventionality something of a moot point in New York for the foreseeable future.

It is almost certain that the Yankees are paying $86 million for the same one-inning closer Aroldis Chapman has been for his entire seven-year career. His contract may or may not prove to be a good one for New York based on how he performs, but don’t let anyone tell you now, in Decemeber 2016, that it’s better than you think because Chapman will somehow transform into a 1970s-style relief ace or something.

Report: Yankees sign Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million deal

gettyimages-577291896
Getty Images
12 Comments

Update (12:02 AM EST): Rosenthal adds that Chapman’s contract includes an opt-out clause after three seasons, a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the contract, and a limited no-trade clause for the final two years.

*

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees have signed closer Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million contract. Mark Melancon recently set the record for a contract earned by a reliever at $62 million over four years. Chapman blew that out of the water and many are surprised he didn’t fetch more.

Chapman, 28, began the 2016 season with the Yankees but he was traded to the Cubs near the end of July in exchange for four prospects. The Cubs, of course, would go on to win the World Series in large part due to Chapman. The lefty finished the regular season with a 1.55 ERA, 36 saves, and a 90/18 K/BB ratio in 58 innings between the two teams.

Chapman was the best reliever on the free agent market and, because he was traded midseason, he didn’t have draft pick compensation attached to him.

The Yankees don’t seem to be deterred by Chapman’s domestic violence issue from last offseason, resulting in a 30-game suspension to begin the 2016 regular season.