Monday, September 18, 2017

The good old days weren't that long ago

There are a few guys in my office who don't work in the sports department but are sports fans. Just about every day, early in the shift, they discuss sports loudly.

These guys are adults, some with wives and kids, and because they are adults, they are prone to talk about "the good old days" when it comes to sports.

When I think of the "good old days," I think of the '70s and '80s. I believe everyone who reads this blog knows that by now. But these guys in the office, when they get nostalgic, revert to one particular time period that I don't think of as "good" or "old."

Most of their discussions center on the late 1990s/early 2000s. Players like Scott Brosius are treated like long ago heroes.

What the hell.

For me, that is far too recent a period to start getting nostalgic about it. Besides, what is there worth rumination? Androstenedione? Jeffrey Maier? Big-headed Barry launching home runs like I'm supposed to care?

Obviously, these guys are younger than me.

But these conversations still throw me off, because when you get to a certain point as an adult, you often forget that other adults are quite a bit older or younger than you. This isn't like when you were kids and you kept track of that stuff daily. Adults are just adults. It isn't until they start talking about when they were young that you figure out, "oh, that guy is ancient" or "oh, I have socks older than her."

So when the Cleveland Indians were on their record-breaking win streak, the Oakland A's 20-game win streak inevitably came up. The guys started talking about the A's streak as if it was in the distant past. Moneyball was eons ago. And I was thinking "hell didn't that just happen? Isn't Billy Beane still in the front office in Oakland?"

That's not old enough to be the good old days.

Except, actually, it is. Well, the "old" part anyway.

To demonstrate, I looked back at the Topps flagship set that was issued the same year as the Oakland A's 20-game winning streak.

The 2002 Topps set contains:

Adrian Beltre
Carlos Beltran
Bartolo Colon
Albert Pujols
CC Sabathia
Ichiro Suzuki

They are the only current active players who were in major league uniforms back in 2002. Everyone else in that set has moved on from playing in the majors.

If you include the prospect cards in that set then you can throw in Joe Mauer, but I didn't consider him or any of the other prospects because they weren't active in the majors yet.

So, 2002 Topps flagship can display only a half dozen active major leaguers. The vast majority of players playing 15 years ago are not playing now. Which, of course, makes sense.

For me, 2002 Topps isn't that long ago. But if you think about it for more than five minutes, it actually was quite awhile ago. My daughter was in preschool in 2002. I didn't have an internet connection in 2002. Bobby Bonds, Larry Doby and Warren Spahn were still alive.

None of the above six players have announced plans to retire after the 2017 season and I can see all of them coming back next year.

That's a good thing.

Because if people start talking about 2003 as the good old days, I'm taking my 1970s binders and heading for a cabin in the woods.


  1. I'm with ya on that. I think of the good old ending back at about 1991, but maybe 1994 AT THE LATEST. When that strike hit, it changed everything, and a lot of the players I grew up with, didn't come back after the strike. The game changed around 1993 or so.

    I guess that in any given year, probably only 50% or so of the active players were also active as long as 8 years ago. Wish I had a database to know for sure, 'cause I think this would be fascinating to look at.

    These days I kind of think of 2007 as being a bit far back. Not the glory days, but, a bit way back. Since then, we've had the rise of Joey Votto, the fall of Albert Pujols, the coming of Mike Trout, the return of the Giants to multi-championship status, the Rays dropping the Devil, the Astros in a new league, & even a Cubs world championship. There's really a lot of changes from 10 years ago.

  2. I bet those guys in your office have no idea that the Patriots used to really, really suck.

  3. This reminded me that I prospect in the hopes that the future can be even better than what came before.

  4. One of my students asked me a few months ago if I'd seen Sammy Sosa play, like he was some Deadball Era mythical figure. That was my rotification that the late 90's/early 00's has suddenly become the olden days.

  5. There seems to be a thing with nostalgia where things from 20 years ago get revisited...think of the 1970s fascination with the 1950s (happy days, shanana)...or that 70s show on in the 1990s...anyway 2000 is coming up on 20 years ago, so maybe those are soon to be the good old days

    1. Yup. I wrote about it:

  6. Thought provoking. The longer you live there's more of your past that's ancient history for younger people. I couldn't believe that a guy whose rookie card I got from a pack is 70 years old. And you know what that means. That I'm not far behind. Oy!

  7. Totally agree. Then again I'm about the same "vintage" as you. Born mid 1960s OK '65 to be exact for those of you whippersnappers who just HAVE to Know. My first experience of "feeling old" was the summer of 1989 I was working in a toy store. The store had music from radio piped into the PA system. usually a top-40 station or album rock station was playing. I was working with an 18 year old co-worker, don't remember if I was training him or if we happened to be in the same aisle stocking shelves at the same time, probably the latter. After a song played the DJ said something about it being the 20th Anniversary of Woodstock either on that day or it was coming up soon. My young co-worker asked me "What's Woodstock"? I was a little floored having temporarily forgotten that this kid was born 2 years after that event, but still I thought he was up on popular music. Maybe he was just into whatever dance music was popular at the time. Well that was the first time I felt old and ancient. I went on to explain the Readers' Digest basics of that historic music festival to him.

  8. 2002 was the year I graduated high school...and somehow that is now 15 years ago.

  9. These types of posts make me feel old. 2002 seems like yesterday. But it's really been 15 years. That's crazy. I'm with you... the good old days are the mid to late 70's... until the mid 80's.