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"You've got a lot of bad habits, Roy," Otis tells me. "You've been having them for years. You can't correct them in two seconds." And he walks away.
I was 50 then. I'm 70 now. Age is only a number, I know, but I'm getting number every day—no, I take that back, I'd like to get more numb. Seventy is like being an athlete in one way: the aches and pains. The other day a nurse was about to inoculate me against shingles. "This will hurt," she said. Then a pinprick. I had to tell that young person, "I hurt worse than that all over, all the time."
In a New Yorker cartoon, an old guy is announcing to his wife, "I've decided to start groaning every time I have to move my body a little bit." But that's just a joke. In fact, I'm looking for what pitchers try to cultivate in their stuff: late movement.
Friends younger than I am have retired. I might be tempted, if I had anything to retire from. But I wouldn't stop feeling for the feeling of certain line drives I have seen people hit. If you hit it right, they say, it doesn't sting.
What does the old Nightster do now, in retirement? Calls up old sportswriters, who can't afford to quit working. Tries to get them to quote him. "I'm talking to Yogi the other day, and he comes up with a new Yogi-ism. He asks me, 'Who is that new pitcher they got in Texas?'
"'Yu Darvish?' I say.
"'Naw,' says Yogi. 'You know me, I'm Italian, from St. Louis.'"
The old sportswriter is not going to use that. Call him a pain, if you will. But the sportswriter can tell the Nightster made that up.
The Nightster can't let it go. "Says Yogi, 'I don't even know where Darvia is.'"
It's sad. Me, I don't need the spotlight. I live in the country with my wife and our cat. I plug away at another book, I write a column for Garden and Gun, about compost or Adam and Eve or something, and from time to time I'm on the radio—Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me—where I once made then senator Barack Obama chuckle at an off-color remark about Wade Boggs.