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:: Wednesday, July 13, 2005 ::

:: Age Defying Longevity ::
I don't know if any of you guys remember my blog entry about how I've taken to rooting for the old guys in sports. Well, after watching him defy logic, nature, science, and quite possibly, acts of God, I have to give Atlanta Braves first baseman Julio Franco some special respect.

All the "old guys" I mention can retire today and be proud of their long, illustrious, even Hall of Fame-worthy careers. But Franco makes 41 year old Randy Johnson look like a wide-eyed rookie. 40 year old catcher Benito Santiago, who just happens to be the term "grizzled veteran" personified and has a face more pockmarked than Edward James Olmos, seems baby-faced in comparison. Even Jerry Rice is looking at this guy and thinking "dude, you old." (HeÂ?s 42.)

Granted, there are naturally occurring genetic anomalies out there that just happen to be freakishly gifted athletes but this guy is still doing it at the age of 46. There should be entire medical journals written about his conditioning. Officials have taken his blood samples; not to test for steroids, but rather to analyze his DNA to see if they can find anything that might explain his longevity, and maybe even find a cure for a disease. Forensics teams have been dispatched to his home city in the Dominican Republic to check the water and bring back soil samples. Old guys, some even in their late 30s, are lining up outside of Turner Field just for a mere glimpse, maybe even the faint hopes that if they can lay hands on him, that their own ailments might disappear.

This is a guy that started his career in 1982. He's outlasted fads, trends, political regimes, a couple of Biblical plagues, Cory Hart AND Corey Feldman. At his age he's still fast enough to steal third base. He's still strong enough to hit a pinch-hit home run in a ballpark where the outfield is larger that South Dakota. He still hits the weight room with the same intensity as Pavoratti hits the pasta section of a buffet. Guys on his team 20 years younger wish they had his body (for that matter, so do their wives). He takes batting practice with the weighted donut still on the bat and still hits opposite-field line drives out of the park.

His goal is to play baseball until he's 50, and he's the only guy where that sort of statement can seem like a lack of ambition. Despite having 16 extra years on me he's in better shape now than I've ever been. I even got a chance to see him play last year when I stopped by Atlanta on our ballpark tour. He has the one of the more awkward batting stances and yet possesses the timing and strength to turn on a 95mph fastball and the speed to stretch that out to a triple.

Go Julio.

:: Miscellaneous Ramblings by Dan-E at 6:23 PM [+] :: | 0 comments

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