As a Mets fan, I am pre-programmed to despise all Phillies players — up to and including the current triumvirate of charismatic stars Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins.
But for some reason I always liked Doug Glanville. He was a great defender, a solid hitter, and a guy who genuinely seemed to be having fun out there and avoided the showboating and histrionics that sour the baseball experience for many fans.
In this Op-Ed for the Times, Glanville (a UPenn graduate) explains how it all goes down when you’re 34 and your new team assumes your career has gained too much downhill momentum to continue. In this case, he was cut by the Yankees in 2005 to make room for a younger, cheaper player:
I suppose I expected something dramatic and profound as an explanation for my getting fired. But Torre just told me, “We are going to have to let you go,” and all I could really muster was a “thanks for the opportunity” — even though I thought they were making a mistake.
Apparently, I didn’t knock their socks off as I had hoped. In the week preceding this meeting, I hadn’t gotten a hit in two games. So, after 15 years of service in baseball and 6,000-plus at bats in more than 1,700 professional games . . . it came down to two performances, which could have meant nothing or everything, depending on the eye of the beholder.
Glanville realizes teams need to strike a balance between up-and-coming stars and experienced veterans. When you’ve got one of each playing the same position at roughly the same level, teams typically opt to stick with the younger player despite the added advantages of having a savvy veteran in the clubhouse.
Of course, he writes, there are the rare occasions where young players like Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols stride on to the scene — fully formed men before their time, ready not just to compete but to conquer. In those situations, it’s best to simply stand aside:
I wore the number 6 for many years as a Philadelphia Phillie. Not that I expected my number to be retired when I stopped playing, but in a flash, Ryan Howard took number 6 and wore it the next year. He went on to be the most valuable player of the National League and the rookie of the year to boot. A true phenomenon.
So I came to understand — quickly — that Ryan will do my old number justice. After you give it your best shot and do all you can, it is easier to step aside when a force of nature is replacing you. In fact, in some cases, for the good of the game it would be selfish if you didn’t.
I would also like to point out that Doug Glanville has his mug on one of the awesomest minor league baseball cards ever, in which they apparently made him wear a helmet made of hard candy and two dinner plates.
It Gets Late Early Out There [NY Times]