YOUTH IS IN THE 
EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

   The San Francisco Giants are deep into spring training in Scottsdale, Arizona, and there were two aging veterans attempting a comeback: Jimmy Rollins, a 38 year old former MVP of the National League....and me.
    Let me explain. Although born and raised in San Francisco and a lifelong Giants fan, I've never been to spring training. So when my 26 year old son suggested a trip with three of his best friends and their fathers, I was all in.
    It was the week before last, and it just so happened that Friday night was St. Patrick's Day. So while Jimmy Rollins tried to make the Giants as an aging veteran, I tried to keep up with four 26 year olds in the wild Scottsdale spring training bar scene. Retirement was not an option for Jimmy, or for me.
    We arrived on Thursday night and I wisely warmed up the old liver with a couple of beers at our Airbnb, never venturing out the door. When the boys got an Uber and left at 11:00 for the bars, the fathers, including me, went to bed, as fathers should.
   The next night was a different story. It was time to make the team, to show those young whippersnappers I still had it. Besides, it was St. Paddy's Day, and my Irish blood (all 25% of it) was in celebratory mode. Combine that with spring training, which is all about hope and dreams, and you've got a recipe for disaster. I mean hope.
   First up was the 6 p.m. game between the Giants and the Colorado Rockies. The sellout crowd was a little listless, but things picked up when I reached for a foul ball and accidentally spilled my beer on a five year old and her mother in the row below me.
   The 26 year olds were not impressed with me at that point, but the night was still young, even though I wasn't. I ordered another beer as I apologized profusely to the little girl who no longer liked baseball games.
   By the sixth inning, the old bones were starting to loosen up. Jimmy Rollins made a nice play at shortstop, and I got even more inspired. "Let's hit the bars, boys!" I shouted as everyone eagerly exited from watching the most boring exhibition game imaginable.
   "Who's doing shots?" asked one of the 26 year olds as we walked into an absolutely packed Irish bar in downtown Scottsdale.
   Since I was an aging veteran making an illustrious comeback, I naturally slammed down a shot of vodka, just like I occasionally did when I was in my prime, about 35 years ago. When they offered another, especially since I was paying (that's why fathers get invited), I slammed that one down, too.
   After the third shot, my comeback was in full swing. That sad, washed up veteran who spills beer on five year olds was nowhere to be found. I was back, baby, and I was going to make the team.
   "I'M ON FIRE!" I shouted about 20 times. "LET'S GOOOOOOOOO!"
   I was talking with anyone and everyone, all of whom were (in my mind) clearly captivated with my incredibly interesting and witty comments. I was cracking doubles and triples all over the ballpark, and I was making diving catches left and right. I felt 26 again. No way I was getting cut.
   At 11:30, the other three fathers announced they were going home. See ya, old men. I wasn't about to call it quits. When one of the 26 year olds suggested going to Whiskey Row, another bar a few blocks away, I had only one thing to say: "LET'S GOOOOOO!"
   When we got to Whiskey Row, I planted myself at the bar and had, unbeknownst to me, my final shot of the night. My comeback was a smashing success. As the four 26 year olds and I joined in a rousing rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," it was clear I had made the team.
   That's pretty much the last thing I remember.
   "I'm never drinking shots again," I announced to my son the next morning as I nursed a hangover that would last about four days. "I am officially declaring my retirement from the bar scene. My comeback is over."
   "We'll miss you, Pops," he replied, looking fresh as a daisy. "But if it makes you feel better, Jimmy Rollins is batting .115. He probably won't make it, either."
   I guess it's true. Nothing lasts forever.




 

 

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