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Athletes Playing Past Their Primes: How Long Is Too Long?


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One play grabbed my attention.  It also grabbed the attention of the writers for ESPN who added these sentences:

After Nick Markakis led off the game with a single, Young followed with a bouncer up the middle. Many shortstops in the majors could've turned it into a double play, but 39-year-old Derek Jeter couldn't quite get to it and the ball skipped under his glove for a single. "He dove. He did everything he could to make that play," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

It was NOT a scorching shot.  It was a ground ball on the shortstop side of second base.  Jeter moved to his left, dropped his glove but it was still to the 2nd base side and below him.  My reaction to that play was curious as to Jeter's age and range.  The reaction was in sync with the comment above from the article.

I couldn't have asserted that others would have made that play or done so easily but it was beyond Jeter's reach.  I assume the author above is more knowledgeable than I and he "answered" my unstated question.   Jeter has been an exemplary athlete over his career.  I hope he goes out in style.

This topic merits its own thread.

Invariably, when the issue of "athletes playing past their primes" comes up in a barroom discussion, Willie Mays gets thrown into the mix, hobbling after, and missing, easy fly balls while playing for the New York Mets.

My opinion on this matter is strong, and simple: If any given athlete still enjoys what he or she is doing (and obviously, is not hurting the team by hanging on), then by all means, play. Play as long as you want because once you stop, you're not going back unless your name is Michael Jordan.

There's no humiliation in getting older. Yes, it's a shame when a career one-city athlete plays a couple throwaway seasons in another city - there's a certain purity that's lost when you look at the career statistics - but the only thing larger than that athlete's love of the home city, is that athlete's love of the game. And I think that's beautiful, even when they're just clinging on by a thread.

Aging athletes trying to gut it out when they're clearly too old have all my respect.

And then, occasionally, you get a Diana Nyad thrown into the mix who pulls off what is seemingly impossible and inspires the world.

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