January 3, 2003
You don't look a day over 19
Happy birthday to me.
Happy birthday to me.
Happy birthday dear me.
Happy birthday to me!
At around 8 o'clock this morning I turned 20 years old.
I was thinking about it and 20 really isn't such a great birthday.
At 18 I could vote and gamble at casinos here in Minnesota.
Next year, when I turn 21, I can (legally) drink booze and gamble in Las Vegas.
But 20? The only thing I can really think of is that I am no longer a "teenager," which is cool, I guess.
I really don't feel 20.
For the last few years I have really felt as though I am about 16 years old.
I know that sounds strange, but it's true.
When I go places and see people that are like 18 or 19 years old, I never think of them as younger than me, I always think of them as older than me.
It's really weird.
One thing that I lose by turning 20 is the shock value of telling someone I was only 19.
A lot of people email me after reading stuff on this blog and want to know how old I am.
I tell them 19 and they are often completely shocked, which, for some reason, really is fun for me.
But 20 doesn't sound that young for a guy running a tiny little website about baseball.
At 19 it sounded kind of impressive, like "wow, this kid has his own website!"
And now I am just another guy in his 20s with a website.
See, now I went and made myself all depressed on my birthday!
I celebrated my birthday with my mom's side of the family the other night.
Nothing big, just my mom, my grandparents and my aunt, uncle and little cousins.
After I opened my presents, someone pointed something very interesting out: Every single one of my presents was related to baseball.
Now, I am aware that I am completely obsessed with baseball, but I didn't realize I was at the point that every possible present for my birthday was something to do with the sport.
My grandparents gave me the new Sandy Koufax biography and a book about the history of baseball in Minnesota.
My aunt, uncle and cousins gave me a brand new baseball glove.
And my mom gave me a Twins hat, a Twins jersey and a Twins sweatshirt.
All great gifts and all baseball.
Even my aunt and uncle on my dad's side of the family gave me a book on the history of the Negro Leagues last week and they don't even see me enough to be aware of my baseball obsession.
I am starting to think that maybe I am too one-dimensional.
I get the feeling that I try to steer every conversation to baseball.
Something like this...
My uncle: Did anyone read about what President Bush said yesterday?
My grandfather: No, what did he say?
Me: I don't know what he said, but did you all know that Bush used to be part owner of the Texas Rangers during the time they traded away Sammy Sosa?
Everyone in the room: Um...
Me: Yep, it's true. They traded Sosa to the White Sox for Harold Baines and the White Sox later traded him to the Cubs for George Bell.
Everyone in the room: [silence]
Me: It's really amazing that a player as great as Sosa got traded 2 times before he was really even an established Major League player, don't you think?
Everyone in the room: [more silence]
Me: Sosa's development as a player is really incredible. He started as a guy that had a lot of tools but lacked plate discipline. His rise to stardom can be directly traced to his learning plate discipline. In 1998, when he hit 66 homers, he nearly doubled his walk total from the previous year and he has drawn 100+ walks in each of the past 2 seasons.
Everyone in the room: [whispering] Weren't we talking about President Bush?
Me: Speaking of Sosa, I really like some of the Cubs' young prospects, particularly Bobby Hill and Hee Seop Choi. What do you all think of Choi? Hey, where is everyone going? Come back!
Actually my family, or at least my mom's side of the family, is about as baseball friendly as a family can get.
My 3 little cousins all play baseball (and the girls also play softball).
My grandpa has been a baseball fan for like 70 years and loves to talk about the Twins anytime.
My uncle was a great high school baseball player and was going to play college ball at Drake before they dropped the baseball program and ruined his dreams of being a Major Leaguer. And, if he didn't have a wife and 3 kids, I have a strong feeling that he would be as big a baseball nerd as I am right now.
What's my point?
As usual, I don't have one.
I have come to the realization that my life revolves around baseball and that is pretty much the only thing I am interested in talking about for more than a minute or so.
And, fortunately, the rest of my family also realizes that and is willing to feed my habit with books, clothing and apparel.
After I opened all my presents, we watched a video of my grandma's 65th birthday party, from 1990.
None of my cousins were alive back then, so they wanted to see what everyone looked like 12 years ago.
After the party, there was some footage of the family just hanging around my grandparents' house.
And at the very end of the tape, guess what there was?
Footage of me playing baseball with my uncle.
After watching the tape, I am pretty sure I was at my athletic peak at that point, age 8.
My uncle was pitching to me and I was swinging a bat that was about as big as I was.
And I was hitting some bombs!
I don't know what happened since then.
Anyway, inspired by my birthday (and Jay Jaffe over at FutilityInfielder.com) I decided to create my "birthday team" made up of players born on the same day as me, January 3rd.
BaseballReference.com lists 53 players in Major League Baseball history as having been born on the same day as me.
Jay's birthday team consists of 3 Hall-of-Famers and mine is completely lacking of such greatness.
But, here is the January 3rd birthday team, along with each player's best single season (as judged by me, of course):
Anytime you want a game Jay, my boys are ready...
Position - Player - AVG / OBP / SLG (Plate appearances / Adjusted OPS+)
C - Darren Daulton - .270 / .385 / .524 (585 PA / 156 OPS+)
1B - Gus Suhr - .312 / .410 / .467 (685 PA / 134 OPS+)
2B - Bill Cissell - .315 / .349 / .437 (620 PA / 97 OPS+)
SS - Luis Rivera - .258 / .318 / .384 (468 PA / 90 OPS+)
3B - Luis Sojo - .289 / .335 / .416 (370 PA / 92 OPS+)
LF - Jim Dwyer - .274 / .371 / .498 (281 PA / 131 OPS+)
CF - Frenchy Bordagaray - .281 / .331 / .385 (548 PA / 103 OPS+)
RF - Buzz Arlett - .313 / .387 / .538 (469 PA / 138 OPS+)
C - Barney Gilligan - .245 / .325 / .313 (329 PA / 104 OPS+)
C - Chico Hernandez - .270 / .324 / .302 (137 PA / 82 OPS+)
IF - Virgil Stallcup - .251 / .276 / .356 (507 PA / 65 OPS+)
IF - Roy Brashear - .276 / .333 / .314 (434 PA / 103 OPS+)
OF - Ed Sauer - .259 / .314 / .355 (283 PA / 82 OPS+)
OF - Adrian Garrett - .234 / .310 / .438 (146 PA / 114 OPS+)
Position - Player - Innings , ERA (Adjusted ERA+)
SP - Cliff Melton - 248 IP , 2.61 ERA (148 ERA+)
SP - A.J. Burnett - 204 IP , 3.30 ERA (121 ERA+)
SP - Sid Hudson - 252 IP , 3.46 ERA (118 ERA+)
SP - Bart Johnson - 178 IP , 2.93 ERA (123 ERA+)
SP - Kirby White - 179 IP , 3.16 ERA (99 ERA+)
RP - Gary Lavelle - 118 IP , 2.05 ERA (191 ERA+)
RP - Mike Crudale - 53 IP , 1.88 ERA (208 ERA+)
RP - Russ Swan - 79 IP , 3.43 ERA (121 ERA+)
RP - Mark Dewey - 51 IP , 3.68 ERA (118 ERA+)
RP - Brian Allard - 48 IP , 3.75 ERA (102 ERA+)
RP - Chris Van Cuyk - 98 IP , 5.16 ERA (71 ERA+)
Now, that is a god-awful baseball team!
The good news is that I think I finally found a team I could play for.
You know you're in for a long year when Luis Sojo isn't even your worst hitter named Luis.
At least it's not all bad, I get to carry 3 catchers. Yay!
I think I might wait another 100 years or so and hope a couple of good players are born on January 3rd before I challenge Jay to a game.
I am sure this prestigious honor more than makes up for Gardy not winning the Manager of the Year award this season.
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****