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This town is one hell of a sports mecca. Let’s get that out of the way to start. Like the real Mecca, it seems like people of a certain age are drawn to make a pilgrimage here, usually towards the end of their careers. The Founding Father of this website, Kevin Garnett himself (peace be upon him), was not a young man when he came to Boston. Nor was Ray Allen, he of the wizardry behind the arc. For that matter, Paul Pierce is over 30 himself, though he’s been here since Lincoln was born.
The Celtics got even older recently with the addition of Rasheed Wallace, acquired from the Pistons. Rumors flew around about the possibility of Grant Hill shipping up to Boston. Even the biggest fans of our elderly heroes in green and white have got to admit that this is a little out of hand. What’s next? We’ll bring back Jordan? Bill Russell to suit up again? Before long, the Celtics will be the only NBA team collectively eligible for Medicare. Boston T.D. Garden will be a too-warm retirement home, presided over by gerontologist Doctor Rivers.
It’s not just the Celtics, either. In the two most athletically demanding sports, Boston’s professional ranks are peopled by men flirting with AARP membership. Just look at the Patriots’ linebacker corps, especially in light of the possible return of Senior Junior Seau, at the ludicrous age of 40. Tedy Bruschi is 36 freaking years old, Adalius Thomas is 31. Only Jerod Mayo provides a blush of youth at 23.
Even the Sox have chosen to bring in some new old blood in John Smoltz, a starter at 41. It’s completely bizarre to see him out there again, as he was one of my favorites when I first started watching the game. You know, when I was a TEENY LITTLE KID! Now here he is, and here I am, still not playing in the bigs. While it’s nice to know that he’d have been there, his last few performances haven’t exactly filled me with confidence. I’d really rather not watch one of my childhood sports idols get humiliated by the Oakland A’s, thank you very much, to say nothing of “oh my god what if he ends up pitching against the Yanks!” Also, Tim Wakefield is about that old, but he’s a knuckleballer, and therefore subject to much crueler and more lethal forces than time.
Except, for one reason and another, most of these guys keep winning. Odd. Perhaps experience and guile really do trump youth and enthusiasm. Nevertheless, I can’t help but be haunted by the specter of our hallowed professional athletes walking around the mall right when it opens and boring their younger teammates with long stories that don’t go anywhere.