Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lingering Athletes

Hey, did you hear that 45-year old Roger Clemens is returning to baseball with his former team, the New York Yankeebockers? Yeah, ESPN is pretty much burying the story in favor of covering the Sabres/Senators series. Seriously though, I think it's cool that Roger Clemens is coming back at age 45. Obviously he's still a pretty good pitcher, but it seems that some people still feel like he should retire due to his age and relative lack of commitment.

I have one simple rule with old-ass athletes: if someone wants to pay you money to play a sport, sign the contract. I hate my job, and I will never be offered a dime to play a sport for a living. If you've got that deal, stick with it as long as you can.

One of the arguments against this thinking is that continuing playing far past their prime will tarnish their glory. Who cares? Furthermore, the badness of a player's later years are usually exaggerated. For example, Michael Jordan's return to basketball in 2001 as a Washington Wizard was widely criticized because of the storybook ending his career had in 1998. But you know what? He still scored 21 ppg. At the age of 39, he was the only Wizard who played in all 82 games.

Hell, if Michael Jordan came out of retirement tomorrow, does anyone doubt that he could be a super-useful player off the bench at the age of 44? And honestly, who wouldn't want to see that?

At the age of 36, with HIV no less, Magic Johnson played 32 games for the Lakers, averaging 14.6 points, 6.9 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game. The Lakers got bounced from the playoffs in the first round. So the team kinda sucked, but at least you got to see Magic Johnson play, right?

And now comes news that Rickey Henderson, one of the greatest players of all time, would like to come back to play MLB baseball. At the age of 48. If Julio Franco can do it, why not Rickey? If nothing else, why doesn't a team like the Royals or Devil Rays pick him up to make some news and for the potential entertainment value.

What I'm basically saying is that I wish athletes would stick around longer. Most athletes refuse to take a bench role as their skills diminish, but I think that's unfortunate for both the player and the fan. Play until you can't walk!


flyno20 said...

I'm pretty sure if Jordan came back, it would be the coolest thing i would ever see. I saw him play once for the Wizards, it was pretty great.

But he couldn't come back for Charlotte, because Charlotte sucks.

As for Clemens, if he would have come back a month earlier last year for the Astros, they might have one those 2 extra games to push them to win the NL Central (all speculation of course)

Shmorg said...

The problem with Ricky Henderson is his ego. Do you think he will take a role like Julio Franco.
Julio is realistic in his role. Ricky's attitdue we be a huge problem and distraction. I completey understand why no team is jumping at the idea.

Fitz said...

I think Jordan could still win 6th man on a team like the Spurs, Heat, or (get this...) the BULLS. Maybe Barkley and Malone can come out too and win the 7th and 8th man awards.

Even though I think it's cool that Clemens is returning, I don't want to hear that it's about a championship for two reasons. First, if it was about a championship, you would have been in spring training so that you could start 25+ games. Secondly, if it was about championships, you would sign for the league minimum and tell the team to go get more help.

Four years ago, Henderson's line was .208/.321/.306 with 3 stolen bases. And now he's 48. I think that's why no team is interested. Still though, Henderson is one of the greats.

specialkmo said...

Charlotte is a promising young team.

Ricky Henderson played AAA ball after leaving the Major leagues. I don't think ego is an issue...that doesn't mean he can still hit.