This is … unsettling.
In case you forgot, Sosa once looked like this:
This does sort of make me feel better about something, though. I’ve told this story before, but I’ll tell it again. It’s about how I once thought people routinely got race-change surgery.
Now, in my defense, I was very, very young, but it went down like this: one day, when I was very young, I was trading baseball cards with a friend and a George Scott card was sitting on top of a Graig Nettles card and I matched the wrong name with the wrong picture. So, in my mind, I assumed that Graig Nettles was black (I really only listened to games on the radio then).
Flash forward to the 1981 World Series. Nettles made a play at third base and the camera pulled in on a closeup. I was shocked to see this white man and I told my dad, who was sitting nearby, of my confusion. He told me that Nettles “used to be black” until he “had the surgery.” I had no idea that he was pulling my chain and continued to believe that people had race-change surgery for a good while after that. Eventually I said something about that in front of my dad and he was flabbergasted, remembered his weird joke and set me straight.
But now Sosa is apparently doing it, so vindication for dumbass eight year-old me.
As I note every spring, “Best Shape of His Life” stories aren’t really about players being in The Best Shape of Their Lives. They’re about players and agents seeking to create positive stories.
We know this because the vast majority of Best Shape of His Life claims are about guys who were either injured the season before, guys who had subpar years the season before or players whose conditioning was a point of controversy the season before. These folks, or their agents + reporters who have little if nothing to write about in the offseason = BSOHL.
James McCann hurt his ankle last season and had a subpar year at the plate. So not only is he a perfect BSOHL candidate, he went old school with the claim and hit it right on the money, verbatim:
Spring training is less than a month away, folks!
Last week Bo Jackson said that, if he had it to do all over again, he would have never played professional football and that he would never let his kids play. The sport is too violent, he said. “I’d tell them, ‘Play baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, just anything but football.’”
Fair enough. Thom Loverro of the Washington Times, however, thinks that Bo could do more than simply give his opinion on the matter. He thinks Bo should become an official ambassador for Major League Baseball:
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, pick up the phone right now and call Bo Jackson. Tell him you have a job for him — vice president of something, whatever you would call the man in charge of converting a generation of young athletes to baseball. And pay him what he wants.
You won’t find a better symbol of the differences between the two sports than Bo Jackson. After all, he was an All-Star in both. Bo knows football. Bo knows baseball.
Bo, tell the children — baseball over football.
The Children: “Who is Bo Jackson?”
Yeah, I’m being a bit flip here, but dude: Jackson is 54 years-old. He last played baseball 23 years ago. I’d personally run through a wall for Bo Jackson, but I’m 43. I was 12 when he won the Heisman trophy. While he may loom large to middle aged sports writers, a teenager contemplating what sport to play is not going to listen to someone a decade or more older than his parents.
This isn’t terribly important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s indicative of how most columnists process the world through their own experiences and assume they apply universally. It’s probably the biggest trap most sports opinion folks fall into.