My grandmother lived to be 107 years old. Using that as a baseline, I have years before I reach mid-life. Or not. Average life expectancy for a white female is 80.8, so it’s just as likely that I’m already sliding down the dark side of the age bell curve. None of us know until we get there.
I don’t feel old. I can still ride a century or a run an eight-minute mile (that is, provided the left hip flexor that’s been bothering me doesn’t flare up and that right hamstring behaves itself). Slowly but inevitably, bodies do break down. Age has been on my mind since the Indians designated veterans Derek Lowe and Johnny Damon for assignment last week. They’ve both been relegated to “no longer needed” category although they’re both younger than I am.
I’ll admit to taking my share of pot shots at Damon this season (and perhaps a few at Lowe). It’s easy to do when you’re watching another frustrating loss by the team that’s toyed with your emotions since you were a child. Damon and Lowe each only spent less than a season with the Indians, yet I feel bad that they’re gone. Those of us on the plus side of forty used to joke about loving Jamie Moyer or Omar Vizquel, Randy Johnson or Tim Wakefield because they were the only players older than we were. It makes you feel less old if there’s still someone older than you are in the majors. Vizquel is the only one still playing from that list. Damon and Lowe are both younger any of those guys, but they seemed older to me, perhaps because they’ve had such long careers. Lowe has been around for 15 seasons; Damon for 17 seasons. It just felt as though they’d been around forever.
For ballplayers, there will always, always, always be a younger, stronger player waiting for your job. It comes with the territory. And sometime, when you least expect it, the things you used to do so easily will no longer be easy. You’ll run a little slower or lose some velocity on your throws. So while Damon and Lowe weren’t producing for the team, I’m sad that they’re gone. This is likely the end of
To paraphrase an old (dearly departed) friend: “Getting older stinks, but it beats the hell out of the alternative.” I’m not entirely clear on what the alternative entails, but given what I know, he was right. I’d like to have some brilliant insight on aging, but I don’t. This is what I know: If you’re lucky, you will grow older. If you’re unlucky, you won’t. And if you’re really unlucky, you won’t grow older, you’ll just get old.
Let’s be lucky.