12.27.04

Ostler On SF’s Ancient Outfield

Posted in Baseball at 12:16 pm by

When I refered to 2/3rds of the Giant outfield (Bonds and Alou) being a combined 80 years of age, I was, of course, forgetting about Marquis Grissom. Luckily, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Scott Ostler is on the case.

Age is nothing more than a number, and the Giants’ outfield’s number is 115.

I asked general manager Brian Sabean if the combined age of his starting outfielders causes him any worries.

“Flurries?” Sabean said. “Nope, we don’t get much snow in these parts during baseball season. Now, when I was a youngster …”

Barry Bonds (40), Marquis Grissom (37) and Moises Alou (38) will be put out to pasture by the Giants on Opening Day. All three will celebrate birthdays during the season, God willing, although the team will combine the three cake celebrations into one event due to concern over global warming.

You want some speed in your outfield these days, what with the lively ball and the corked bat, so age might be a concern for the Giants. However, it should be noted that if Bonds, Grissom and Alou each has a career year in stolen bases by just one steal per player, they will swipe 150 bases!

(If all three match last season’s steal totals, they will swipe a combined 12 bases.)

What Bonds, Grissom and Alou have lost in speed, they more than make up for in, I don’t know, some other area. Like maybe veteran savvy. Or the ability to keep their caps from flying off while chasing flyballs.

Bonds has won eight Gold Gloves and Grissom four. Granted, Bonds has gone the last six seasons without winning a Gold Glove and Grissom has gone the last eight. But they’ve both forgotten more about fielding than most big-league outfielders know, including Alou.

(If Alou’s glove appears to be gold, it might be due to his hand-washing habits.)

It’s an interesting experiment the Giants will be conducting. Around the horn they have Mike Matheny (34) at catcher, J.T. Snow (37) at first, Ray Durham (33) at second, possibly Edgardo Alfonzo (31*) at third and Omar Vizquel (37) at short.

(*The inquiry flag is up on Alfonzo’s age. Some insiders raise the possibility of clerical error or smudging on Alfonzo’s birth certificate, since his first pro season was ’91, when he would have been 17. And there’s the Victrola he plays at his locker.)

On the plus side, the Giants have veteran leadership and a quiet clubhouse.

“Age is only a state of mind,” the Giants’ players will tell us over and over, because they will refuse to bow to younger teams, and because old people tend to repeat inane tidbits of wisdom.

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