Saturday, February 28, 2009

That old-time feeling

I always have to chuckle a little bit when reasonably young people talk about how old they feel. But I guess I had one of those moments this week when I saw this photo gallery from the Kansas City Star. It shows former Royals ace Bret Saberhagen visiting Royals spring training camp this week.

Saberhagen was my favorite player growing up. He was spectacular during his time with the Royals, winning two Cy Young awards, including one as the 21-year-old ace and World Series MVP of the 1985 Royals. He also went on to have a great year with the Mets in 1994 (a strike-shortened year, but Sabes was on pace to set a record for strikeout-to-walk ratio) and a good season with the Red Sox in 1998.

Well, he’s not that 21-year-old ace anymore. He’s got the receding hairline, the wrinkles, the graying hair… well, he looks every bit of his 45 years.

I guess it happens to us all.

But age of course, isn't the end of the world for ballplayers. Oil Can Boyd is trying to make a comeback. Jamie Moyer is still an effective pitcher, and he's a year older than Saberhagen. Barry Bonds and the clear and the cream won an MVP award when Bonds was in his 40s.

A few years back I saw George Brett take a few swings at a charity baseball game. It was awesome - he's still got the swing, and the fire in his eyes. I'm convinced George Brett could put on a uniform today and hit .270 with 15 home runs.

Saberhagen's problem was always staying healthy. But if he could keep himself off the DL, I'll bet he'd be a 12-game winner or at least an effective middle reliever right now. (As great as he was starting, it would be kinda fun to see him come back as a closer, no?)

--Matt Kelsey

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