Playing Strat-o-Matic Baseball as a kid, I figured I might grow up to become an MLB general manager one day. Meanwhile, my mother figured I might grow up to become president one day.
Tragically, we both were mistaken.
Turns out I’m too dumb to run a baseball team and too smart to run the country.
More truthfully, I am now too dumb and too old to make baseball decisions.
The days of Branch Rickey and Buzzie Bavasi are long gone. Over the last generation, the front-office game shifted from the baseball lifer in the hat chomping on a cigar to the analytic-driven, business-school grad sipping bottled water.
We’ve gone from stealing signs to sabermetrics.
Baseball general managers, at the moment, are very, very young and very, very Ivy League.
We’ll deal with the age thing first, then shift our animus to the Brooks Brothers crowd.
There is only one GM over age 60, the Mets’ venerable Sandy Alderson, 69, and only three others — the Orioles’ Dan Duquette, 58, the Tigers’ Al Avila, 58, and the Nationals’ Mike Rizzo, 56 — over age 55.
Every general manager in the NL Central and NL West is under 50.
Seven GMs are in their 30s.
I don’t mind young — heck, no one was complaining when Mozart composed the “Mass in C minor” at age 26, though my great-great-great-great-great-great Uncle Nathan did seem a bit peeved when Wolfgang followed up with “The Marriage of Figaro” at 30 — but this is getting ridiculous.
Best I can tell, nobody should be given any real responsibility until they’re at least 42.
(We didn’t let my brother Steve complete his own tax returns until he was 47.)
Now, new blood is one thing; Old Money is another.
It’s been an Ivy League incursion.
They dominate Wall Street, Hollywood and Washington – what, they can’t leave the ballparks for beer-bellied hoi polloi?
Eleven of 28 MLB general managers are Ivy Leaguers, plus another half-dozen hold the title of “president of baseball operations,” which, essentially, is a GM with a better parking space. There are a couple of GMs each from Cornell, Dartmouth and Princeton.
Then there’s Harvard, setting for “Love Story,” “The Paper Chase” and “Legally Blonde.”
Harvard is home of eight U.S. presidents, 130 Nobel laureates and more than 350 Rhodes Scholars.
Of the 100 current U.S. senators, 13 are Harvard grads. Of the nine current Supreme Court justices — yeah, we finally have nine again — six are Harvard products.
I can accept all that.
I cannot accept six Harvard alum — including two law-school hobnobbers — as baseball GMs.
Why would you go from Harvard Yard to Camden Yards?
If this sensibility were around 100 years ago, apparently Oliver Wendell Holmes would’ve been holding kangaroo court at Fenway Park.
Alas, it appears that our best and our brightest of late are eschewing meaningful leadership positions to make baseball trades and play poker.
The brain drain of young, fertile egghead minds began, of course, with one Theo Epstein.
Hired as the youngest general manager in MLB history at age 28, he brought the Red Sox their first World Series title in 86 years and, now, as president of baseball operations for the Cubs, Epstein brought them their first World Series title in 108 years.
And the thing is — and my mother will back me up on this — there’s no reason I couldn’t do what he does; we have eerily similar backgrounds.
I am a 1981 Maryland graduate with a degree in American Studies, and was sports editor of the campus newspaper. Epstein is a 1995 Yale grad, with a degree in American Studies, and was sports editor of his campus paper.
What’s he got that I don’t got? Yale, schmale.
Plus, frankly, he lacks the depth of knowledge that I possess, in terms of human relationships and human dynamics — Epstein’s only been married once, I’ve rounded the bases three times. Hah!
I’m waiting on that call from the Padres.
Q: Just wondering — does rolling the basketball on an inbounds play actually save clock time over passing the ball inbounds the same distance? (Thomas D. Simpson; Washington)
A: No, but bending over to pick up the ball is excellent aerobic exercise.
Q: When you built your marriage roster, did you rely primarily on the draft or free agency? (Tom Martella; Washington)
A: I started building my marriage roster so long ago, we didn’t even have free agency then.
Q: Can you address the rumor that President Trump’s latest travel-ban executive order includes a clause that actually forbids it by NBA players during games? (Mark Kulzer; Wynantskill, N.Y.)
A: POTUS is more focused on the NBA’s runaway immigration problem.
Q: Do Sergio Garcia, Nick Saban and Ed Hochuli all go to the same tailor to have their shirts taken in? (Scott Shuster; Newton, Mass.)
A: Pay the man, Shirley.
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