Growing Old, Sorely

Every now and then, when I feel particularly out-of-shape, I try to remind myself of all of the baseball players who played into their mid-40s. Nolan Ryan did it. Frank Thomas, Jamie Moyers. It’s still possible, I tell myself, to play in the majors, but the clock is definitely ticking.

I felt particularly out-of-shape when I got out of bed this morning. I noticed a soreness settle in over my entire body over the course of the night, and the soreness was acute when I pulled self out of bed and got dressed for work. Bleary-eyed, and foggy-headed, it took me a few moments to figure out why I should feel so sore. Then I remembered the batting cage.

On Sunday, I took the Little Man to a local batting cage to work on his hitting. It was his first time using a batting cage, and I wanted to make sure he got a good number of balls to swing at. Rather than buy some tokens, I rented the cage for 30 minutes. We had all the pitched balls we wanted. I worked with the Little Man on how to stand. We worked on timing, and swing. It’s not easy swinging a bat over and over again, especially when it is hot out, so we developed a rhythm where he’d take 14 pitches, and then we’d switch and I’d take 14 pitches.

It was a slow-pitch cage, the balls coming at 35-40 MPH, and I was taking some good cuts, sending the balls sailing. Hitting in a cage like that can make anyone think they can play in the big leagues. I found myself thinking that, why if I only did this every day, and steadily increased the speed of the pitches, I’d have my timing down for 90 MPH fastballs in no time.

This morning, there is not a muscle above my hips that isn’t sore. My forearms are sore. My fingers are stiff, making it difficult to type. My back is sore, my neck is sore. Whatever part of the body on the opposite side of the arm from the elbow is called–that’s sore too.

Soreness is part of the process of getting back into shape. I recall this from when I worked with a training ten years ago. Eventually, it fades. It also remember that, for me, it reached its peak not one day after the activity, but two days. That means I’m really in for it tomorrow. The more I think about it, the more I think that there’s a chance that my time to play in the majors is rapidly shrinking.

The batting cage wasn’t a complete loss. The Little Man worked on his swing and his timing. We got his feet positions in a way so that he’s not stepping back when he swings. Later in the afternoon, he had his second game of the season (they won their first game 8-0). In his second at bat, with a runner on 3rd, the Little Man took a ball, and then knocked a base hit, with an RBI, his first of the season for each.

I’m writing this on May 1, which, coincidentally, is the date in 1991 on which Nolan Ryan threw his 7th no-hitter. He was 44 years old. Any no-hitter is impressive, but after taking a turn in the batting cages at age 45, it makes a no-hitter at 44 seem that much more impressive.

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