Sunday, May 07, 2006
Are You Ready For Some Julio?
Hello. It is good to be back.
"Back from where?", you might be asking yourself.
"Back from oblivion!", I might reply.
After the highly successful run of the late, lamented Greased Poker Chips, I , Ben Hill, am back in the blogosphere. Did you miss me, blogosphere? I sure missed you. And now I'm back and better than ever, teamed up with the inimitable Tom Lorenzo on High and Inside.
The most popular feature on the late, lamented Greased Poker Chips was The Franco-Files, in which (the royal) we tracked the exploits of John and Julio Franco, baseball's two oldest players.
Of course, John's season was cut short in July, when he was released by the heartless Houston Astros. But Julio tore through yet another Major League season, his fifth with the Atlanta Braves and 21st overall (1982-94, 1996-97, 1999, 2001-2005). Over 108 games and 233 at-bats, Julio hit .275 with nine home runs and 42 RBIs. His first at-bat of the season was a single off of the now mercifully retired Al Leiter (another Greased Poker Chips regular). His last at-bat was an infield pop-up in the 18th inning of the NLDS series against the heartless Houston Astros.
Interestingly enough, that final at-bat came against 42-year-old Roger Clemens, the oldest pitcher in baseball (presuming he returns this season, which he will).
In between, Julio's 2005 season certainly had some memorable moments. On June 18 he had a two-home run game against Eric Milton and the Reds. On June 27 he had a hit a pinch grand-slam against the Marlins (for the record, Julio is the oldest player to have a multi-home run game, a pinch-hit home run, and to hit a grand slam). On July 30th he collected his 2500th career hit, a single off of the Pirates' Mark Redman. Julio finished the season with 2521 hits, good for 78th all-time. All told, he faced 123 pitchers, who he was a combined 2123 years older than (an average of 17 years per pitcher).
Additionally, Julio hit .311 (14-45) as a pinch-hitter and played a stellar first base. But his season wasn't all highlights. Julio turned 47 on August 23. From that point in the season on, he hit just .174 (8-for-46) and did not hit a home run. He went just 2-for-9 in the postseason as the Braves made their customary first-round exit from the playoffs. How will Julio -- now a member of the New York Mets -- respond in 2006?
We here at High and Inside are aware that the season started a month ago. We are sorry for not beginning the Franco-Files sooner. But the circumstances, they were extenuating.
From this point forward, excuses will not be made. The Franco-Files will appear every Monday, like clockwork. Julio deserves to have his 2006 season analyzed in meticulous detail. He is a man among men, an incredible role model in a world lacking credible role models. His body is his temple. He has a relationship with God.
Someday, we here at High and Inside may be seen as role models. We may begin treating our bodies like a temple. We may develop a relationship with God. But until that hazy, far-away day, we will meticulously track the exploits of Julio Franco. That will have to serve as a substitute until our mental, spiritual and physical selves mature to a Julio-like level of greatness. It will happen eventually.
Next Monday (the 15th) check back for an analysis of Julio's 2006 season thus far. Each Monday after that a weekly update will appear.
And who knows what else will appear on High and Inside? We are still in our infancy, roughly akin to where Julio was in 1982 as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. That is to say, just starting out.
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We are the greatest.