The Washington Post

Gene Weingarten: The Boys of Winter


To: Brian Cashman, General Manager, the New York Yankees

Re: My tryout

Gene Weingarten is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and writes "Below the Beltway," a weekly humor column that is nationally syndicated. View Archive

Just a heads-up — I’ll be joining the team this week for the final days of spring training, and hope to be in shape for your season opener against the Sox. And by “in shape,” I mean 61 years old. Judging from your offseason moves, you see that as an asset.

I don’t usually write here about baseball, but as a lifelong Yankees fan, I’ve never quite seen an offseason like this one, either. While other teams were dealing like mad, stocking up on 20-somethings with hard bellies, your big move was to re-sign four starters with hard-boiled-egg bellies. Three of them are 38, 39 and 41. The fourth, your best pitcher, is 43 and trying to come back from knee surgery. He and the Internet were born the same year, the year of the debut of “Scooby Doo.”

(Eric Shansby)

How old are the Yankees? Jayson “Gramps” Werth, at 33 the oldest player on the Washington Nationals, is younger than nine of the 25 men on your roster. You have become the Bronx Embalmers.

Your spring training facility resembles the Vatican during a papal conclave. Looking around the locker room last month, observing the gerontocracy milling about, salt-and-pepper hair, poochy guts, crow-footed eyes, your manager swallowed hard, pasted on a game face and said to reporters — this is a direct quote — “I love the character in that room.”

Hey, I got plenty of character for you right here, pal. I’ll match my prostate pound-for-pound with any of your guys’.

On the Metro recently, I overheard a conversation among three young guys wearing Yankees caps. They were talking about their favorite player, your right fielder and likely leadoff hitter, Ichiro Suzuki. This is how it went:

Guy 1: I’m a little worried. He’s 39.

Guy 2: (dubiously) It’ll be okay.

Long silence.

Guy 3: (hopefully) I don’t think Asians age as fast as we do.

Anyway, here’s the good news: My knees suck. After botched replacement surgery, the bottom of the top half of my leg sometimes does a startling, impromptu little mashed-potato slide-dance on the top of the bottom half of my leg. I don’t fall, but it does give me an unnerving little tickle of mortality, a wink from the Grim Reaper. I figure I will fit right in with your shortstop, who will turn 39 this season, and whom everyone is watching with bated breath, fingers crossed, hoping his newly repaired broken ankle, held in place by screws, doesn’t shatter like a Limoges vase.

I don’t mean to sound “ageist” here. I acknowledge that experience is a valuable asset. I get that. But I would respectfully suggest that it not quite as important in the profession of baseball as it is in, say, the profession of ophthalmic microsurgery.

Don’t get me wrong. I love this team. They’re in my blood. When I was a kid, I’d go to games at Yankee Stadium with my dad, and we’d watch Mantle and Maris play. He used to go to games with his dad, and watch Ruth and Gehrig play. I love the Yankees. I just didn’t expect that those guys would still be out there.

E-mail Gene at Find chats and updates at

Follow the Magazine on Twitter.

Like us on Facebook.

E-mail us at .



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.