You may think that turning 50 has made my fantasies about playing Major League Baseball a bit implausible. But I perform like an athlete half my age.
While my studio apartment is too crowded with breakable objects for me to swing a bat like I once did in my spacious childhood bedroom, I still dive on my carpeting, snagging screaming line drives and lay down perfect squeeze bunts using my toilet plunger as my bat.
Pitching is more problematic. I used to be able to go nine innings, throwing my blazing 40-mile-per-hour fastball against a pillow propped up on my Lazy Boy chair, but a recent fall while performing improv (don’t ask) left me with an injured elbow that has limited my pitch count. (I can go deep into a game throwing all knuckleballs, but I have trouble getting the pitch over the dinner tray that doubles as home plate.) To lessen the stress on my arm, I have become a late inning reliever, who always strikes out the side.
Yes. I am really 50 years old.
I also play in the NFL. At 6 feet and 155 pounds of solid skin and bones, I may not look like a football player, but you should see my moves! I fade back into my entranceway and fire a Nerf football into my bedroom area garbage can, or take off for the goal line and fake out a linebacker (my desk chair) before diving into the end zone (my couch).
Despite these heroics, it is increasingly hard to get past the fact that I am older than every professional baseball and football player on the planet. This harsh reality has inspired me to conjure up more age-appropriate fantasies.
This season I have been the retired All-Star, returning to the stadium for an Old Timers game, where I emerge from the dugout (my kitchen area) to high-five my former teammates as the crowd roars. I have also been working on my Hall of Fame induction speech.
“I want to thank all my fans who have traveled to Cooperstown to share this great honor with me,” I say into my bathroom mirror. Then I’ll interview myself on the 25th anniversary of my 800th career home run:
Q: Can you describe the thrill of that moment?
A: It’s what I would dream about while shooting up steroids in Little League, and suddenly the dream was real.
But reminiscing about my playing days is not as exciting as managing in the big leagues. In game seven of the World Series, I walk slowly to the pitcher’s mound (a pile of shirts, ready for the dry cleaners) and raise my arm, signaling that I want the left-hander.
“Good effort,” I’ll say to the exiting pitcher. “Let’s close this out and go celebrate,” I tell the reliever, handing him the ball.
I keep my voice low during these pitching changes, so my neighbor won’t hear me through my thin walls and think I’m nuts. But during the playoffs I can get carried away.
I figure I have 20 years of managing left in me–enough time to win more World Series titles than Torre did. At 70, I’ll buy the Yankees and have the team retire my number during a ceremony at the stadium. Derek Jeter will be there to unveil my plaque.
Ben Krull is a lawyer and essayist who lives on the Upper East Side.
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