Mike Vaccaro has a column up today talking about Derek Jeter in twilight and he notes that the touchstone reference for an aging athlete is “Willie Mays falling down in the outfield” or “Willie Mays stumbling in the outfield” (as I’ve often heard it) during his final season with the New York Mets.
If you hear some people talk about it, you’d think he spent the entire 1973 season constantly stumbling out there, in need of help from paramedics and stuck in a half-dumbfounded state for months. As Vaccaro notes, however, this was actually a one-time deal. The meme springs from one play in the 1973 World Series. On a day when everyone was having trouble in the outfield due to the hazy sky.
History is tough like that, though. And, obviously, when you have a stumble like that during the World Series — back when everyone watched the World Series — it’s going to hold a little stronger. Still: kinda nuts that Mays has that hung on him so much. Surprising how strongly a single play resonates. And it says something — something not altogether flattering — about the person relating the story. About how it’s hard for them to watch athletes get old and how that discomfort is what should decide whether or not they hang it up.
I wonder what Willie Mays thought about the night after the game he stumbled. I wonder if he felt good and vital and dandy. Or if he thought “well, that sucked, but tomorrow is another day.” Or if he carried with him all the psychic weight that those who tell the tale seem to want him and other aging athletes to carry.
Last night we heard the beginning of rumblings of a possible three-team trade involving the Yankees, Mets and Marlins that could involve J.T. Realmuto and Noah Syndergaard. Those rumblings — while still off in the distance — are getting a bit louder this morning, with reports floating that the Marlins are driving it and that it’s not just wishcasting from New York.
Into that mix comes something interesting: Ken Rosenthal reports that the Yankees are open to moving third baseman Miguel Andujar and that he’s “a name to watch.”
Coming as it does after that Yankees-Mets-Marlins chatter might mean that Andujar could be involved in all of that and, if he is, that could make for a monster deal. Such a blockbuster would certainly be a good enough reason to part with Andujar despite a strong rookie season in which he hit.297/.328/.527 with 27 homers and 92 RBI. Worth noting that moving him could also open up third base for a big acquisition like Manny Machado, but that’s separate speculation, I suppose.
Not that any of this would be that easy, of course, especially if it involved the Mets. The Mets and Yankees rarely make trades with one another, and if they were to do one, it’d have to be something that the Mets could claim, convincingly, that they won lest they get raked over the tabloid coals. That being said, the Marlins reportedly want an established major leaguer in any deal for Realmuto and the Mets reportedly want more than just Realmuto if they were to give up Syndergaard. As such, Andujar could fit into that in any number of ways.
There’s obviously there’s a long way to go on this sort of thing, but the names floating around talks with the Yankees, Mets and Marlins are quite interesting and could suggest something big is brewing.