I didn’t want to write about baseball again today. Enough already with the sports stuff, Lloyd. But Noah sent me an ESPN interview with Jamie Moyer, who will pitch later this week for the Colorado Rockies at the age of 49. How could I resist that story?
Moyer cracked the starting rotation of Colorado because he proved in Spring Training that he can get guys out with his 80-mile-per-hour (heater?) and assorted off-speed pitches. No knucklers like Wakefield and the Niekro brothers. No trick pitches, no splitters, no spitters. Just location, guts and belief.
Jamie came up with the Chicago Cubs in 1986 along with the great Greg Maddux. They probably will both be in The Hall of Fame – Maddux for sheer long-term brilliance and Moyer for persistence. He has won 267 games over 26 years in the Majors and will be the oldest man to win a Major League game when he wins his first this season. Just to add perspective on his age, Moyer’s oldest son Dillon was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 2010 at the age of 18.
Moyer thought his career might be over in 1992 when he was sent down to Corporal Klinger’s old team, the Toledo Mud Hens.
I’ve heard him interviewed several times and the polite pitcher dutifully answers the questions with a winning authenticity. We want to frame him as a heroic figure, but Jamie just wants to be a ballplayer, because it’s who he is. It’s what he loves. So why wouldn’t he do it for as long as he’s good enough to play at an elite level?
I love to watch him pitch. He’s got nothing and yet the hitters absolutely hate swinging against him because he keeps them off balance. His pathetic fastball actually seems quick to hitters after seeing 65 mile-per-hour curves and changeups. And after he leaves a game and a 23-year-old reliever pounds 98 mile-per-hour heat batters fume.
I connect with Jamie Moyer. He’s coming back after serious arm surgery and arduous rehab. You don’t rehab for a year at 48 or 49 unless you are nutty enough to believe you can still cut it when everybody else your age is selling insurance.
This is the Jamie Moyer story I love. He puts on the stirrup socks that nobody else in the game would dare wear because they’d be laughed out of the dugout and takes the mound because “he gets to do it” not because “he has to do it.” He is a baseball warrior by choice. He also donates a ton of money each year to the 28 bereavement camps for kids that he and his wife Karen support.
I think I get Jamie Moyer. Baseball is his work, but it’s also his love. Long ago he stopped listening to his doubters, because to him baseball is about making pitches and getting outs. Keep it simple. Play the game. One day at a time. The perfect clichés of baseball – and life.
Question: If you had won 267 games and had earned the money that Moyer has, would you undergo Tommy John surgery to try to pitch again?