PHOENIX, AZ - Omar Vizquel #11 of the Chicago White Sox makes a jumping throw to first base against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Omar Vizquel is still playing. This story will never get old. Well, except for the getting old part.
Jamie Moyer jokes are empty calories. They're the Cool Ranch chips of baseball jokes -- you just keep popping one right after the other. The next thing you know, your fingers are stained and your tongue feels like you licked a hedgehog. They aren't nourishing, and after a while, there's such a thing as too much.
The good news is that Omar Vizquel is still playing. And he's still old. Statistics show that he's likely to continue to get older. Omar Vizquel debuted in 1989, the year that Giancarlo Stanton, Madison Bumgarner, and Jason Heyward were born. He played his first game of professional baseball in 1984, the year that Warren Spahn was born. Approximately. Vizquel is so old that he has 14 career at-bats against the current Blue Jays manager, from whom he's trying to win a job.
Vizquel's competition on the Blue Jays is Adeiny Hechavarria and Luis Valbuena, which means he has a pretty good chance of making the roster. He should be the glove on the bench, possibly picking up 100 at-bats or so. He probably won't hit well -- it's been a few years since he has. But in the American League, he doesn't have to be an integral part of the Blue Jays' strategy. He'll pick up a few starts here and there, and he'll get a couple of pinch-hitting chances in the late innings, but he'll probably make the same kind of difference that most utility players make -- which is to say, hardly any.
But he'll be playing. He has a good chance to actually make a roster, wear a real uniform, and do everything that goes along with that. He wonders why more 44-year-olds don't do it.
What he doesn't understand is why so many others don't think another year is worth taking a chance.
"You sacrifice a little of your pride," he said. "But I don't know why [others] don't try. If you really feel the energy, why not do it?
"It's weird to see all these guys retire, and I'm still on the field."
Weird isn't the right word. Vizquel is going to be 45. Forty-five. The reason that other players don't do it is because they can't. Vizquel found the magic formula. Take notes, kids, here's all you have to do:
- Be better defensively than everyone else in the world, so that when your defensive skills decline, you're just regressing to the realm of normal baseball players
- Have a short, contact-focused swing
That's all you have to do, other players. Suck it up and be a defensive legend, and you can stick around too.
Vizquel is already the oldest player to ever play shortstop, and he'll extend that record with every game he plays, provided that he makes the team. Which he should. Because even if his defense and bat have declined past the point of usefulness, he makes for a pretty swell clubhouse guy/quasi-coach/fashionista. As a tiebreaker between feckless utility shortstops, that's a pretty good one.
So stop with the Jamie Moyer jokes. There's no reason to bother with Omar Vizquel still battling for roster spots.
holy crap that guy is like 93 look at that guy what in the hell