12 Years A Slave

Carl Crawford was born in Houston, on August 5th, 1981. He was a three sport star athlete high school, receiving scholarships to play both basketball and football, but in the end he decided to play baseball after being drafted out of high school in the second round by Tampa Bay and given a $1.245 million signing bonus. He shot quickly up the minor league system to become a top prospect and made his major league debut in 2002 at the tender age of 20 – the youngest player in the league at the time. Over the next nine seasons he racked up four All-Star appearances, a Gold Glove Award, a Silver Slugger Award, and lead the league in steals four times. From 2002 to 2010 he accumulated 35.7 wins above replacement, good for 12th in the league through that time. In 2010, his last year before free agency, he slashed .307/.356/.495 and put up a crazy 7.1 fWAR season, the third best in the league.

In the offseason he signed a seven year contract with the Red Sox, the first player in even their free spending history to make an annual salary of over $20 million. Along with the recently acquired Adrian Gonzalez, he was to form the core of a team that would compete for a World Series every year for the next decade.

And then Carl Crawford entered his 30 year-old season.

And it was a disaster. He started with a slash line of .155/.204/.227 in April and never really got fully back on track. Both his speed and defense left him, traits that are usually less prone to variance and where most thought a lot of his value would come from even when his bat aged. After stealing 409 bases in 1235 games over the previous nine seasons he only stole 18 bases in 130 games – worse than half his career rate, also at a reduced success rate. After providing an amazing 6.1 runs above average with his base running in 2010, his UBR dropped to 0.2. Widely considered one of the better defending left fielders in the game and averaging about 11 runs saved over the last three seasons, he became a liability in the field and struggled in Fenway Park’s weirdly shaped outfield, costing his team 9.4 runs with his glove.

A player that had the league’s third best fWAR the year before ended up costing his team 0.2 wins, and a the team that many had picked as World Series favourites had thrown over $20 million a year at a below replacement level player, amid a disastrous season in which the Red Sox missed the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time in a decade, saw their manager dismissed, and their entire pitching staff accused of being more focused on fried chicken and beer than they were on pitching.

As far as graceful transitions into your 30’s go, Carl Crawford did not have a great one.

Or maybe he did, considering that year he also signed a $142 million contract that year to play baseball professionally.

Either way, there was a very marked change between decades for him. He won’t forget the year he turned 30.

And in a very convoluted way, I think I have to compare myself to Carl Crawford, in the sense I have a feeling that I won’t forget either. It’s been a fun ride juggling a change in age demographic, career, address, and marital status within the last 12 months. Was it bad timing or unfettered ambition that led to packing all these things together? Just coincidence or is there causality between all of them? Doesn’t really matter either way.

I didn’t really see it coming until it hit me, though it really wasn’t much of big deal. For some reason turning 26 hit me much harder, but I think it was really just a function of where I was in life – back then I had nothing else going on so I had time to dwell on the meaningless significance of arbitrary numbers. This year, it was pretty hard to give a crap about stuff like that. Maybe it will hit me later but who cares really.

That brings us to another milestone to note in this space as well – August 5th (haha) marks the 12th anniversary of The WAMBAG’s existence. Is there a less meaningful date in the entire year?

I want to stop, but I can’t. And gosh darn, I really tried this year. Have you seen the post counts? Have you seen the actual post content and quality? I mean I am begging for some external force to come and known this perpetual spiral of sad irrelevance off track, but it never comes.

I really can’t see it stopping, and although I’m sure there will come a time when I can’t even make a post a month, I can’t imagine the site ever truly dying. It’s never really stood for anything, which is why it’s so easy to keep rolling – there’s nothing to fuel it, so it will never run out of fuel. It’s just a tumbleweed that keeps rolling along the barren landscape of our corner of the internet.

Should we just say that “it’s been a magic 12 years and here’s to another 12 more” and move on? Yeah, I think that is a good idea.

Father wears his Sunday best
Mother’s tired she needs a rest
The kids are playing up downstairs
Sister’s sighing in her sleep
Brother’s got a date to keep
He can’t hang around

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Destined to fight the world's evil, The WAMBAG endures massive battles involving impossible stunts, races on horse-pulled carriages, and the desecration of enchanting medieval castles (all done with dizzying computer graphics). Not only does the eye candy keep on coming, the tongue-in-cheek writing and deep Transylvanian accents perfect the film with a dose of dark humor.

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