Aging

40

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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.

Shocker: Bruce Bochy tabs Madison Bumgarner to start Opening Day

Madison Bumgarner
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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You might want to sit down for this news. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has tabbed ace Madison Bumgarner to start on Opening Day in Milwaukee against the Brewers, CSN Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic reports. Shocking, I know.

The Giants had a busy offseason, adding Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to the starting rotation, but neither had a shot at getting the Opening Day nod considering what Bumgarner has done for the Giants over the last five seasons.

Since the start of the 2011 season, the 26-year-old lefty compiled a 3.05 ERA with 1,034 strikeouts and 239 walks across 1,050 innings. Among starters who logged at least 800 innings in that span of time, only Clayton Kershaw, Cueto, Zack Greinke, David Price, and Felix Hernandez have posted lower ERAs.  And Bumgarner is the only one among them with a championship ring. In fact, he has three.

Tony Clark is not happy so many players remain unsigned

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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We’re almost halfway through February. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training soon. And yet, there are more than a handful of solid free agents that remain unsigned. Among them: Yovani Gallardo, Ian Desmond, and Dexter Fowler. All three have draft pick compensation tied to them, as each rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from his respective former team. That, undoubtedly, is a reason why they haven’t inked a contract yet.

MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark is unhappy about this reality and expects to discuss potential changes when the next collective bargaining agreement is negotiated. The current CBA expires after the 2016 season. Per the Associated Press, Clark said last week, “I think it’s disappointing when there are as many talented players still without a home. I don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest to be in a world where very talented players are at home for whatever reason they are there. It will likely be a part of the conversation in bargaining.”

Clark also mentioned, among other things, the possibility of a draft lottery, which would take away the incentive for teams to “tank”, or lose on purpose. The Astros and Phillies have notably done this in recent years, finishing with baseball’s worst record and thus netting the #1 overall draft pick.

These are, however, simply two items of many that will be discussed during the upcoming offseason. It will be interesting to see what solutions are eventually put in place.

Michael Pineda hopes to reach 200-inning mark for first time

New York Yankees' Michael Pineda delivers a pitch during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
AP Photo/Adam Hunger
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It was reported on Friday that Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka isn’t sure if he’ll be ready for Opening Day as he makes his way back from arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. His health will be crucial to the Yankees’ chances this season, but the same goes for rotation-mate Michael Pineda, who hopes that this is the year he’ll be able to take on the workload of a frontline starter.

Pineda was on pace for a career-high in innings last season, but he landed on the disabled list in late July with a right flexor forearm muscle strain and missed a month. He struggled upon his return and ended up with 160 2/3 innings, so he fell short of his career-high of 171 innings as a rookie with the Mariners way back in 2011. Now going into his age-27 season, Pineda told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that his goal for 2016 is to reach 200 innings for the first time in his career.

“For me, this year, I’m coming here early to be strong and working hard to pitch 200 innings this year,” Pineda said at the club’s Minor League complex. “I want to throw 200 innings this year. This is my goal, and help my team.”

Pineda had a mediocre 4.37 ERA (90 ERA+) last season despite impressive peripherals with 8.7 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9. Among pitchers with at least 160 innings pitched, only Bartolo Colon of the Mets had a lower walk percentage. Pineda managed to increase his ground ball rate to 48.2 percent and also saw an uptick in velocity from 2014, so there’s reason to believe in improvement if he can stay healthy.

Brewers GM: Acquiring Jacob Nottingham doesn’t change Jonathan Lucroy’s status

Jonathan Lucroy
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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The Brewers acquired prospects Jake Nottingham and Bubba Derby from the Athletics on Friday in exchange for slugging outfielder Khris Davis. The hope is that Nottingham will develop into the Brewers’ catcher of the future, so you could say that the club is planning for life after Jonathan Lucroy. However, Brewers general manager David Stearns said today that the trade doesn’t change Lucroy’s immediate status.

The Brewers are in rebuild-mode and Lucroy is an excellent trade chip if healthy, as his contract includes a $5.25 million club option for 2017. It’s likely just a matter of time before he’s shipped elsewhere, but yesterday’s trade shouldn’t change the timeline for a potential deal. Nottingham doesn’t turn 21 until April and has yet to play in Double-A, so he’s still a ways off from the majors. The Brewers can afford to wait on the right offer for Lucroy, whether it’s in spring training or at the trade deadline or perhaps later.

Checking in at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, Nottingham batted .316/.372/.505 with 17 home runs over 109 games last season between Class A and High-A. He was traded from the Astros to the Athletics as part of the Scott Kazmir deal last July. It’s worth noting that Stearns was the assistant GM for Houston when Nottingham was drafted in the sixth round back in 2013, so he’s clearly a fan.