HUBO, the humanoid robot, throws out the first pitch before a game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs at Citizens Bank Park on April 28, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Did They Get You To Trade, Your Heroes for Ghosts?
Baseball Nation's Rob Neyer had some interesting observations today regarding talking with some of the National League All-Stars. I also like this Fangraphs chat with Minnesota Twins pitcher Glen Perkins, discussing his approach to pitching and his interest in sabermetrics.
The point about the players being human beings is one that gets made a lot, but often ignored. Players aren't robots, but it is easy to lose track of their humanity when we see them so often as number generators or images on video or even just watching them play in person. Interviewing them in uniform is also a lot different than talking with them when they are in street clothes.
I was reminded of this again on Sunday while interviewing some of the Futures Game prospects. The thing I was most struck by was simply how young they all seemed. Even the guys who were articulate, intelligent, and happy to be there (not all of them were, a couple seemed pretty disinterested if not annoyed) came across to my increasingly middle-aged mind as just really, really young.
As Rob points out, most of the players are not guys who would stand out in a crowd at the mall. I was as tall as (if not taller) than a few of the players who are supposedly 5-11 or 6-0, and I'm just 5-9. Heck, I have more muscles than a couple of them, and I'm a bucket of pudge. On the other hand, several of them (particularly the pitchers) towered above almost everyone in the room. Some were just a lot lankier than I expected, Christian Yelich and Nick Castellanos in particular. And of course they all have more athleticism in their pinky than I do in my whole body, granted that's not a strong standard.
I live in a college town, I interact with college students daily, and I've talked with baseball players on numerous occasions as part of my job. I'm not sure why their youth struck me so strongly on Sunday, but it did. Maybe some of them were simply a bit giddy from the environment and they were coming across as youthfully enthusiastic, or maybe I'm just getting old.