Thursday, November 03, 2005

Time to Retire?

I can hear the chuckles already. " play in the Mixed Division....doesn't that mean you have already retired?" (Sidenote: Don't you hate RSD posts that begin "Uhmm.....(insert smart ass remark here)". The uhmm is so smug). While I acknowledge such sentiment, it is clearly incorrect and is only really useful to ruffle feathers and bolster fragile egos. However, I think it might be a Universal Truth that if you are 41 years old AND are low down on the depth chart of a Mixed team, it just might be time to embrace one's mediocrity and hang up the cleats in an effort to avoid the 73 Willie Mays Syndrome. Of course, in my specific case, it would 73 Willie Mays without the Vic Wertz catch, the 660 home runs, MVP's, and basically the whole of the 50's and 60's.

Now, if you have read this far, the answer to the title of this post (and deep concern about my career path) must be keeping you at the edge of your seat. I will, however, defer to the wisdom of MC this past Saturday night at the 6TM party in which she said "Decisions about retiring should not be made in November and December". And, indeed, my thoughts have been changing rapidly since Friday or Saturday in Sarasota. I am considering 3 options:

1) Maintain the Status Quo--Perhaps the path of least resistance. Maintain the same level of conditioning and training as last year. Contribute to the team however I can, even if it is in a limited role. While I truly believe that role players provide a benefit to the team if they, at the least, fully challenge the starters in practices (I feel I was successful in this task), the harsh view is that I am essentially riding the team's coattails.

2) New personal goals/work harder--Perhaps I could address the lack of personal goals this past year by working harder this upcoming year. I think I could be motivated to try to bump myself up a few notches on the depth chart. This was before I was told by one of the subbers that my disc skills need to improve, however. I am pretty good at self-evaluation, though, so this isn't really news (see the mediocrity part). Unlike Al and Jim, in "my day" I was a D player/goal scorer. As I have aged, I think one could say that my transition to the other side of the disc has been far from graceful. Still, this option provides for clear direction and goals, and might be the most emotionally positive.

3) Retire--You know what "they" say: "If you can't do......teach". The most dramatic option. In the past, I have made similar decisions in a cold turkey fashion. I tend to cut my losses and move on. I have been nuturing the foundation of a viable path after playing, though, and I think I would get a lot out of it. Coaching, teaching clinics, my admin work, and the NUTC job are all rewarding and will serve to keep me involved.

There are other factors that will impact this decision. Family, work, the make up of 6TM this upcoming year, and 6TM's decision about attending Worlds (maybe I should ride out on the Australian sunset) are just some examples of external forces that will come into play. answer yet.....


parinella said...

It's hard to retire. I went through a lot of angst in 2004 confronting what was to be my final season. "This is my last practice." "This is the last time I'll drive away from the Nationals fields." &c. It seems that you ought to have to play through a season with that in your mind rather than doing it after the season, since you won't have to think, "If I'd have known it was my last season, I would have trained a little more" or "I would have pissed a few more people off."

Plus, confronting my mortality has allowed me to move beyond that concern. I can play next season, or not play, without this fear.

gcooke said...


To what extent has having a child contributed to you confronting you mortality?

I think you make excellent points, and I found myself this past weekend thinking the exact same things (this is last time I.....).

To a certain extent, I am not sure that declaring retirement is really necessary. Maybe it is better, if I don't go with options 1 or 2, to just say that I will see how it goes. The problem with this is that I really feel compelled to train hard in order to try to maintain an even keel. I think if I let things slide and get out of shape, that it will be hard to come back from that.

parinella said...

It's more a factor of aging than being a father, although the latter does make it more difficult to overcome aging by limiting training and playing time. And while I love my kid, I don't want to be an obsessive parent who spends every hour of his free time with him, and I value my time away.

gcooke said...

The reason I asked is that my wife's cousin mentioned to me, very shortly before my daughter was born, that having kids made him face his mortality.

My father passed away when I was 12, so, for me, I became hyper aware, when my daughter was born that I wanted to be around for her. This hasn't made me more cautious. I just feel very aware of her dependence on least for now.

I feel I started to confront my mortality through humor, specifically in songs, in my 20's. I just posted a song called "When the Song Goes Nova" on my iCompositions site (It can be accessed through the "my songs" link on my blog. It is about my unimportance in the face of the grand scheme of things.

parinella said...

I actually didn't mean "mortality" when I used the word. It was more an acknowledgment that I'm not going to be able to continue playing indefinitely at a very high level. There's always been a "next year" to look forward to. Even though the team might change, I'd still be there, doing about the same things I'm doing now.

Another confounder in the decision-making process is that in a sense, nothing matters until the elimination rounds of Nationals. So what if I'm sucking wind at Tuneup? I still have two months before the season starts. (By virtue of being me, I've had the luxury of being able to do this, whereas if I was a kid struggling to make the team or find a role, I wouldn't. It's not politics, btw, it's just good Bayesian statistics.) I know that I will be better by that time, whereas a Mike Schmidt or Willie Mays is probably already playing at his true level when he sees that .203 batting average in June.

gcooke said...

I appreciate the mortality clarification. That makes sense, and I guess I took it too literally.

In my own little way, I understand what you are speaking of in terms of qtrs at Nationals is where the season begins. I have only played in these rounds twice, but 6TM does feel like a team that could consider these rounds a reasonable goal on a year to year basis.

On a big team and deep team, the level of commitment to training is basically, as you say, "enough so that you can get through Saturday". In a sense, this makes the retiring decision a bit easier to put off, as Option #1 in my post seems very doable.

I was a bit surprised that no opponent walked up to me and said " you do anything on this team other be the NXD figurehead?" I guess there are worse roles to have...some of which I have seen very clearly in the losers bracket of Short Fat Guy roshambo's.