The Power of 33 (or lack thereof)
So why is David Ortiz only hitting .225 with 8 HR and 36 RBI after 71 games?
Because he’s 33 years old.
(notice that I DIDN’T say it’s because he’s really OLDER than 33)
Could it really be that simple?
(photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
There’s a fascinating story on Sports Illustrated’s website written by my favorite sportswriter Joe Posnanski in which he talks to Boston Red Sox senior advisor Bill James about the significance of the age of 33 in baseball history.
You can – and should – read the article here.
Posnanski and James make a compelling case that 33 seems to be the age when many great hitters decline. Here are a few examples from the article:
Hall of Famer, Duke Snider
1959, age 32: .308, 23 homers, 88 RBIs
1960, age 33: .243, 14 homers, 36 RBIs
Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle
1964, age 32: .303, 35 homers, 111 RBIs
1965, age 33: .255, 19 homers, 46 RBIs
Hall of Famer George Brett
1985, age 32: .335, 30 homers, 112 RBIs
1986, age 33: .290, 16 homers, 73 RBIs
This year, the 33-year-olds in major league baseball include Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez (.239), Alfonso Soriano (.230), and Edgar Renteria (.266).
Posnanski and James point out that there are exceptions – including current 33-year-old Torii Hunter (.305, 17 HR, 59 RBI) – and note that many of the all-time greats who had bad years at the age of 33, bounced back and had good ones when they were older.
Still, it certainly makes you wonder with Big Papi.
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Manny Ramirez returns from his 50-game suspension on Friday night as the Dodgers open a weekend series in San Diego.
We’ve lined up a great guest to discuss “Manny Mania” on Saturday’s edition of “PawSox Insider” – my buddy Ken Levine who co-hosts “Dodger Talk” after every Dodgers game on 790 KABC in Los Angeles.
I’ve blogged about Ken before – he’s the guy who wrote a character named Dan Hoard into an episode of The Simpsons. (If you missed that entry, here it is)
He also wrote an episode of Cheers in which a comedy bit for Norm and Cliff was inspired by something he watched me and former PawSox broadcaster Gary Cohen do.
Here how Ken described it on his blog:
One night in a sports bar in Syracuse, New York, I saw the greatest thing. Gary Cohen (now the TV voice of the NY Mets) and Dan Hoard (the voice of University of Cincinnati football and basketball) started reciting the lyrics of 70’s chart topper “Hot Rod Lincoln” real fast, in perfect unison. The entire song in less than a minute. When they finished the bar exploded in applause. I thought, this would be a great bit for Norm & Cliff on CHEERS. I laid it out for my partner, David who also thought it might be kind of novel.
So we pitched it the CHEERS producers a few months later when we were about to write a script. They looked at us like we were nuts. I said, “Trust me. This will work. This will become one of those classic CHEERS teasers.”
The producers shrugged, and I guess out of respect to our then-prestigious career said, okay, try it.
When they saw the finished draft they still had reservations. It seemed kind of stupid and pointless but so convinced was I that we had struck comedy gold that I made this offer: David and I would perform it at the table reading. We would show all these skeptics. Again, they said go for it.
Everyone assembled for the table reading. The cast, writing staff, some crew members, the studio, and the network. We took our cue and launched into “Hot Rod Lincoln”. And we were great. Having practiced diligently for a week we kicked some serious ***. Truly awesome! And when we were done….
Nothing. Nada. Dead silence. A vacuum. You could hear crickets from a field a mile away.
Just fifty faces staring at us with a mixture of bewilderment and sheer pity.
The embarrassment of that table reading was of course, just the beginning. Back in the writing room, David Lloyd got it started by saying, “So the ‘Hot Rod Lincoln bit – that worked.” Others said they were still not convinced, would we do it again for them? Next week could we perform “Stairway to Heaven”? These jokes continued…for four years. I’m hoping to out live them all because if not I just know they’ll reprise it at my funeral.
Note to young writers: NEVER guarantee a bit will be a classic. And second note to young writers: NEVER EVER make it worse by trying to prove it.
I’ll make this guarantee – Ken will be funny when he joins us this Saturday afternoon at 2:00. I hope you can catch the show.
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Congrats are in order for Clay Buchholz and Fernando Cabrera who were named to the International League roster for the Triple-A All-Star game on Thursday. The game will take place on July 15th in Portland, Oregon — one day after the MLB All-Star game.
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Let’s hope the weather cooperates on Thursday night as a standing room only crowd will see Pawtucket face the first-place Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees with Clay Buchholz on the mound and fireworks after the game.
I’ll join Bob Montgomery for TV coverage on Cox Sports throughout Rhode Island. If you don’t have tickets to the game, I hope you’ll tune in beginning with the pre-game show at 6:00.
I’d love to hear from you. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.