Dubs: It’s often said that baseball imitates life. In this case, there’s an odd bit of truth to that because life, like baseball, is all about milestones. In baseball, it’s all about 3,000 hits, 500 home runs, or 300 wins.
Today, SportsChump and I hit one of life’s major mileposts…the Big Five-Oh. On July 13th exactly one-half century, SportsChump and J-Dub entered this world, dropping from the womb onto a path that would lead them to becoming blog brothers from another mother.
We mention baseball because it was one of the things that led to that convergence; that only being natural for two sports bloggers.
SC: When Dubsy first asked me to collaborate on a piece about turning 50, I put down my cane, put in my dentures, put ON my readers and wondered (then forgot, then wondered again) what angle we would take on such a piece. He and I have been writing together for years on just about anything that came to mind. Clearly, sports would be a focus since that’s what we do here but so would aging (hopefully gracefully) and recalling (hopefully fondly) what the last fifty years have meant to me and that other guy who terrorizes the inter-web.
Baseball is a perfect place for us to start for it’s the only sport I grew up watching and now that I have grown up (I use that term loosely), it’s the only sport I DON’T watch. It shows how much I’ve changed with the times.
It’s been ages (no pun intended) since I’ve watched a baseball game in its entirety. As I’ve matured (another term I use loosely), I find myself thirsting for the instant gratification that other sports like basketball, football and hockey all provide and that baseball simply does not.
Walk-offs are great but you have to wait three hours to get there. It’s why only 800 people attended a White Sox-Rays game earlier this spring. My baseball card collection sits in a trunk in my closet untouched for years and gaining only minimal value. Hannibal Burress jokes that baseball is a sport you go with a friend who you haven’t seen in a while so you can catch up. So, Dubs, maybe you and I’ll catch a game one day all weathered like Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence at the end of “Life,” hopefully without the lengthy prison sentence.
Here in Tampa, they’re contemplating building a new stadium but the risk-reward factor is out common-sensing the breaking ground of any ballpark. Either way, by the time it gets done, I’ll be happily qualifying for my senior discount. Wait, I think I already am.
Dubs: Be it sports or life, here are some examples of how many things have changed in the past half-century:
There was no such thing as light beer or diet soda.
SC: No diet soda? Heck, I remember when 2-liter plastic bottles first hit the shelves. They were all the rage. You mean you can drop a bottle of soda and have it not break? CLEAN UP ON AISLE FIVE!!! I haven’t had a soda (or pop as you call them in Indiana) in as long as I can remember unless of course it has some bourbon in it.
Neil Armstrong had not yet walked on the moon, and he better have brought some cash with him, because the Automated Teller Machines (ATM) was still a year away.
Speaking of Neil Armstrong, why have we not sent any more people to the moon? I could think of a nice long list of people we’d like to shuttle into space. Can we prioritize this?
Your telephone was a seven-pound item bolted to the wall of your house, and nobody had more than one.
Speaking of cellphones, I love sifting through not so old movies to see where exactly phones went from cars to analog to flip phones to smart phones. When’s the last time you saw someone use a pay phone in a film? Still, no phone is cooler than the one Rodney Dangerfield pulls out of his golf bag in “Caddyshack.”
Speaking of things you only had one of, a television (which may or may not have been color) weighed about 400 pounds and came in a wooden console you could be buried in. Not to mention, cable didn’t exist yet, so if you had five channels you were lucky.
If you don’t recall your great grandfather using the “clicker,” on which there were three buttons, then you’re probably not fifty. One of my favorites episodes from Married with Children features a scene where Bud and his sister realize the remote control is broken and they don’t know how to change the channel. Bud tells Applegate that he once heard their dad saying you could actually walk to the television and change the channel on it manually. What’s funnier than that is I don’t know if my current smart TV can be changed manually. Odd how things come full circle and that Christina Applegate (almost 50) is still easy on the eyes.
If you didn’t have a television, you went to the movies…which by the way didn’t have a ratings system yet.
And don’t forget the “Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics” labels they put on our website. Shout out to Tipper Gore’s husband for without him inventing the internet, you and I would have never crossed paths.
Buying a foreign car was nearly impossible, unless it was a Volkswagen Beetle, and even then you could score a brand new one for $1,700.
These days, you wouldn’t want to buy an American-made vehicle for that much.
You could fill up that Beetle for 34 cents a gallon, and park it in the driveway of your $15,000 house, which you could easily afford on your $7,800 average annual salary.
They still have $15,000 homes here in Florida, Dubs. They’re called trailers.
The following countries still existed: British Honduras, Ceylon, Cyprus, East Pakistan, North and South Vietnam, and Rhodesia.
You say Rhodesia, I say Rhode Island. Let’s call the whole thing off.
In the sports world…
The AFL and the NFL were still separate leagues.
The USFL and XFL both came and went and the NFL still thrives in spite of itself. Please allow me to take a knee.
The major-league pitcher’s mound was still 15 inches high rather than the current 10, and it would be five more years before we even heard of the Designated Hitter.
And people still bitch about the designated hitter. (Wait, that’s baseball talk, right? It’s been a while.)
The NHL had just doubled in size by adding six teams, and with the exceptions of the Los Angeles Kings and the California Golden Seals, there were no NHL teams further south than St. Louis or further west than Minnesota.
And aren’t Lightning fans all the happier for it!
The NBA expanded to 14 teams with the addition of the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns. The St. Louis Hawks relocated to Atlanta, and your current reigning champs were in their sixth year as the San Francisco Warriors, having moved from Philadelphia.
Which brings us to the obligatory Michael Jordan-LeBron James comparison. What post on sports would be relevant without it? For my fiftieth birthday, I’d like a time machine to transport the greatest players from each generation onto one court. I get to the pick the teams and put them into a round-robin elimination tournament to see who would win. Now THAT would be something.
Despite all the “old man pining for the way stuff used to be,” we’re really here to tell those of you who have not yet hit “mid-field” yet what turning 50 is really all about. Forget all that shit about “50 is the new 40,” ignore your office decorated with black balloons, entering the second half-century of your life is like descending through Dante’s seven concentric circles of hell.
You leave the 18-49 demographic – nobody sells cool stuff to you anymore – you get the high-wall safety tub, reverse mortgages, and long-range grippers to help you put on your socks
50 is when you become officially old. You’re eligible to join AARP.
Those “Super Beta Prostate” commercials start to make sense
You notice how many dead Facebook friends you have – then you start wondering about people you haven’t heard from in a while.
I gotta tell you though, Dubs. I don’t feel fifty. You’re right. Baseball is the perfect metaphor. Aside from it being the sport we both grew up with, it’s a sport of milestones and 50 is most certainly that, not in a doom and gloom sort of way but in a far more introspective manner. Sure, the back aches at times and my knee’s been acting up but when I told people that my fiftieth was coming up, most who know me are surprised I’m that age. I don’t look it and I sure as shit don’t act it.
My friends recently threw me a surprise fiftieth that landed on the Fourth of July. It was totally unexpected. We followed that up with another party on my actual birthday. I am still riding high from both those moments.
They had planned these parties for months and nobody said a word. It reminded me how grateful I am to have so many special people I call friends. Without getting too mushy on ya’, I have led a glamourous life and I wouldn’t change a goddamned thing.
To you, my friend, I wish you nothing but the happiest and healthiest of fiftieth birthdays. I look forward to continuing to write with you about the world of sports and all things otherwise. You’re my July 13th, brother. If only those hospital wombs knew what they were getting themselves into.