I’m not obsessed with aging or my own mortality, but I am very suddenly aware of it these days. As a late-thirties person, I get that I still have a decent chunk of useful life remaining, but it’s still very odd to read about and watch baseball these days and recognize that my age is so advanced that not only is it messing up baseball’s desired viewership demographic, but also that any player near my age is a piece of garbage gumming up the entire sport.
Mark Armour wrote for SABR on Tuesday about what a drag it is that 35+ year old players have virtually no value now in MLB:
Setting aside the reasons for the exceptional aging that went on between 1998 and 2007, which has been debated to death, it is interesting to wonder why players are not aging as well today. The most common answer will be “steroids testing,” but could there be other causes?
If you read the study, you’ll see graphs showing plunging lines of WAR value for 35+ year olds and the last time that age group produced consistent numbers of 4+ WAR players was between that 1998-2007 range. Peak PED era.
Am I On Here advocating for a new PED era so that more players can sustain their careers longer? Why, yes I am. Baseball’s more interesting when it’s a 20-40 year olds sport. The statistical revolution already homogenizes the sport to a large degree and in reality, the idea that people “past their prime” should walk into an incinerator just doesn’t feel like the belief system of a healthy culture.
This isn’t about diluting competition — I want PEDs. I want 36-38 year olds still hitting 20 home runs (listen, as a Giants fan, 20 home runs in a season might as well be 50) and starting pitchers throwing 94+. Edwin Jackson is 35-years old... what if he pitched 5 more seasons? He might get to play for 18-20 total teams when it’s all said and done.
Mainly, more older players will disrupt the CONTROL CONTROL CONTROL plans of every front office. That’s what the game has been more about over the past 10 years than I can recall in my lifetime. It used to be that ownership would simply collude and publicly take a dump on players, but now it’s a more corporate model of dehumanization that has its pluses and minuses.
The pluses, of course, are cost control and efficiency. The minuses are that a human game gets reduced to widgets and Excel spreadsheets. For a game that’s struggling to market itself, making the players even less human seems like the wrong way to go, even though I say this as someone who doesn’t care who’s wearing a Giants uniform so long as the Giants win.
But, yeah, bring back PEDs. Let’s watch Buster Posey, Mike Trout, and Juan Soto play for 20 years.