Happy Jackie Robinson Day

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April 15th is the anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s Major League debut.  Tons of players will wear #42 in his honor today (which I don’t much care for, but that’s another rant).  That dude down at that university in Georgia or Florida or wherever will issue his annual report about minority participation in baseball (which I don’t much care for either, but that’s also another rant).

Major League Baseball is obviously doing stuff too. One of them is the launch of www.IAM42.com where  60+ baseball players and other celebrity types appear on video and express what Jackie Robinson and his legacy means to them.  Also, tomorrow at noon and 6PM easter, MLB Network will air a documentary called Letters From Jackie: The Private Thoughts of Jackie Robinson. It’s hosted by Curtis Granderson and narrated by Dennis Haysbert (who, sadly, is not likely to be doing the Cerrano voice).  It focuses on Robinson’s role in the civil rights movement, post-baseball retirement for the most part. A preview of it can be seen here.

This sounds cool. Because, while I mean this as no offense whatsoever to Robinson’s baseball legacy, that part of his life is a well-known and well-told story by now. Indeed, it’s bordering on fable and simplistic morality tale, and has been sapped somewhat of its historical power due to over-exposure and reductionism in my view.  Jackie Robinson’s post-playing career, however,  is every bit as interesting and complex as him breaking the color line, even if it wasn’t as significant.  And I tend to be a fan of interesting and complex, and I like to learn new things rather than recite the old, so I am really looking forward to this.

Anyway, happy 42 Day.

Congratulations Justin Turner!

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Baseball is a young man’s game. Whereas, a few short years ago, teams went into battle with a lot of guys with ten or twelve years of experience under their belt, these days such veterans are a dying breed. Whether you chalk it up to teams favoring youth because youth is less expensive, the game simply favoring younger, more athletic players, the decline in PED use among ballplayers or some combination of all three, the fact is that it’s better to be 23 in Major League Baseball these days than 33.

But Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner is an exception.

Turner is 33 — he turns 34 in November — yet he remains at or near the top of his game. It’s been a shorter season than usual for him due to an injury that cost him all of April and part of May, but his production when healthy remains at a near-MVP level. He’s hitting .318/.413/.525 on the year, and his return coincided with the Dodgers shaking off their early-season doldrums. Now, with his help, they are on the verge of yet another NL West title.

Not only that, but he’s doing that while holding down a second job!

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Way to hustle, Justin!