Youth doesn’t last. However, when you have the opportunity to watch youth performing at its peak, it is wondrous and beautiful.
During the summer of 1997, when I was 22 years old, I had recently graduated college and moved back into my parents’ basement. I was working as a short-order cook at a bar in East Greenwich, R.I., for 30 hours a week. While I was preparing to student-teach in the fall and begin a career as an educator, I spent most of my time that summer in front of an old Word Processor, typing terrible short stories and poems, convinced I was going to become the next Ernest Hemingway while my mommy washed and folded my underwear.
I had one friend also living with his parents at the time and once a week we’d go a dive bar by the airport and drink our fill of draft beer, watching women but never mustering the courage to approach them. After all, what was my pick-up line: “Do you want to come back to my parents’ place and help my mom fold my underwear?”
In short, as a 22 year old male, my life was lame, painfully and exorbitantly lame.
Now contrast this with the three 22 year old bucks in Boston right now who are having the summers of their lives and taking Beantown by storm. While the Red Sox still linger in last place—although there have been some signs of life lately—this season’s infusion of youth has finally made for some interesting baseball and, right now, it is enough to compel fans to keep watching.
Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Eduardo Rodriguez, none of whom could legally rent a car, are dynamic young studs who are starting give a team that this writer deemed “The Douche Bags of the Month for May/June” a much-needed makeover. Add to the list the team’s only All-Star—so far—Brock Holt (I called it in this article last year), and you have a group of kids who play hard and play to win without the diva-drama that accompanies many of the veterans in the clubhouse.
After a slow start, Mookie Betts is making his presence felt in the field, with the bat and on the base paths (with the exception of a few base running blunders). Betts is currently hitting .283/.336/.463 with 9 HR’s and 47 RBI’s while flashing the leather left and right in center. As if his performance on the diamond isn’t enough, Betts can also finish a Rubik’s Cube in under two-minutes.
Then there’s Xander Bogaerts, another nascent stud who will someday become the centerpiece of this franchise—assuming the ass-hats in the front office don’t screw it up. Currently, Bogaerts is batting .304/.341/.418 with an OPS of .759. He has also shown tremendous improvement at short shop. Will he ever be Ozzie Smith in the field? No. But, boy, he has been a lot of fun to watch this season. By the way, Xander Bogaerts, a native of Aruba, also speaks four languages—English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento.
Finally, there is the recent addition of Eduardo Rodriguez, a 22 year old live arm from Venzuala. After it became apparent that Joe Kelly—who promised a Cy Young this season—couldn’t throw anything other than batting practice fastballs and was demoted to Pawtucket, Rodriguez was called up and has remained in the starting rotation. He is now, behind Buchholz, their Number 2 starter. He’s had some growing pains along the way, but he had the most impressive first three starts in MLB history.
Unlike myself at 22 years old, I’m fairly certain that none of these guys would have any problems finding interested young women at the dive bar by the airport in Warwick, R.I.
The poet WB Yeats said—maybe the fact that I’m quoting Yeats was/is part of my problem appealing to women—that we’re all “fastened to a dying animal.” Youth doesn’t last. However, when you have the opportunity to watch youth performing at its peak, it is wondrous and beautiful. Try not blink. These young bucks are finally giving fans their money’s worth.
Photo Credit: Associated Press/File