Look, we all like Bronson Arroyo here. We also like unhittable pitching. We do not like seeing the quite likable Arroyo’s head whip around game after game to watch his pitches sail back over his head.

Bronson Arroyo is 40 years old. So am I. I entered this world a month before he did. I am not a professional athlete. He is. And neither one of us has much business pitching in the major leagues right now.

I cannot imagine what is happening in Bronson Arroyo’s body right now. All I know is that I recently sustained a three-week neck injury by sleeping for 8 hours. How on Earth is he hurling a small spherical object 60 feet and 6 inches at the likes of terrifying-in-all-ways Charlie Blackmon after a lifetime of doing so? How can anyone possibly expect this to end well, scoreboard-wise?

Usually, it doesn’t. And so I have a few suggestions for Bronson Arroyo. Who we like. And want to relax. For everyone’s happiness.

-Slapping the Skip Button When “A Pirate Looks at 40” Appears on the Playlist

Jimmy Buffett was 28 years old when he released this song, and probably felt, as I did when I first heard it at the age of 14, that if you don’t have your life together by the time you are 40, you might as well just sail off. I heard a live recording of him singing this in the 80’s and he announced that “Every year we do this the inevitable draws closer. Doesn’t look too bad.”

Well, of course it didn’t, because he was Jimmy Buffett and already well on his way to blender tycoondom . Since then, Buffett has had to constantly slap down the idea that the song was in any way autobiographical (“I was never the d—– pirate,” he’s always insisting.) But if you’re like me, who quite possibly peaked at 22 when she was voted “Favorite English Writing Major” at her tiny college, 40 is terrifying.

I myself handled my 40th birthday with a great deal of grace, having forced my husband into accompanying me into the biggest hole in the ground I could think of.  I woke up on the morning of my 40th birthday freezing in a tiny cabin at the bottom of the Grand Canyon in the aftermath of an 8-hour mule ride.

I did this because my career is nowhere where I hoped or thought it should be even by the age of 30. Maybe better days are ahead. Maybe not. Maybe Bronson Arroyo feels this way, feels frantic at the thought of hitting the halftime of life and still miles and miles away from what he hoped for himself as a kid with a glove. Maybe not.

All I know for sure is that it is painful, and all too personal, to watch him struggle like this.

-Never Ever Watching For the Love of the Game 

I expand this suggestion beyond Arroyo to the rest of the human race.

For those of you unfamiliar with this two-hour turd kerplop, it’s a baseball movie starring Kevin Costner. No, not that baseball movie starring Kevin Costner. Not the other movie starring Kevin Costner, or even the other one. It concerns an aging pitcher who begins throwing a perfect game but spends 99% of it fretting over his obnoxious flakey girlfriend, Kelly Preston, who spends her own time overenunciating and failing to inform her boyfriend that hey, she has a daughter. It is by far Kevin Costner’s worst film involving baseball and a table saw.

Lance McAlister made a big giant deal about this movie when it became clear that Arroyo wouldn’t be staying in the minor leagues in a coaching role, as was originally suggested, but instead on the mound at Great American Ball Park, Coors Field, Wrigley Field, and who knows where else at the age of—I cannot recall, being aged, if I’ve mentioned this before—40. McAlister felt that Arroyo might function as a real-world Billy Chapel.

If Arroyo is lucky, much as I’d like to see him churn out a perfect game, he will never come close to living Billy Chapel’s life, nor will anyone else. When I saw this movie, I had to wrap my arms about my knees and remind myself that it was just a movie and these unbelievably dumb people didn’t actually exist.

Even then, I didn’t sleep for weeks, and then when I did, I injured myself.

-Conducting Scientific Experiments

This conversation happened:

“Aunt Beth,” said my nephew, “Dad says you are going to take us to play video games that you played when you were our age.”

“That’s right.”

“But, if they were around then, how are they still working?”

There’s a wonderful trend unfurling on this planet:  Places exist where can pay a flat fee and play classic arcade games. Unlimited. No quarters. Some have even set the games to continue when the last Pac-Man has bumped into the ghost, rather than starting over. Some have left lots of room for a bar.

When I experienced my first bar version of this brilliant concept, I was exhilarated to find that I could, at last, find out what happens after the elevator stage of Donkey Kong . I was no longer hampered by a $3.00 allowance. I was savvier. More confident. Playing without fear.

I was also, however, playing with the reflexes of a 40-year-old who last week wandered the house for ten minutes looking for the car keys which were, at that moment, waiting patiently in the ignition. A 40-year-old who’d had a glass of Moscato and was screaming at her friends to “come watch me neuter this barrel.”  Which would win out—experience and freedom, or 40 and fermentation?

…I don’t remember.

7 Responses

  1. Eric

    Every year, inevitably, we find ourselves wondering how long Fill-In-The-Blank-Forty-Something can hang on in his chosen profession: baseball, football, Olympic three-on-three basketball (yes, that just became a thing for 2020 in Tokyo, folks!), whichever. When it’s a former-star-turned-role-player on some team you don’t follow from a league you don’t care about (Vince Carter, anyone?) it’s a half-beer conversation, but when it’s happening in the dugout of the team you’ve loved since the Big Red Machine (I’ve got you by six years, MBE) you’re kinda forced to deal with with the high-tech game of Pick-Up Stix (introduce your nephew to *those*, eh?) that led to us watching the ridiculous Leg Kick that used to flummox opposing batters for five-innings-but-Dusty-left-him-in-for-six-dangit! Now we’re lucky if they don’t pick up the timing during BP. I’m not sure, really, why he’s still in the rotation. I can see him eating a couple of middle-relief innings here and there at this point until…well, I don’t honestly know. When you get to this point in life, you need more coffee before you can arrive at these kinds of solutions, I guess.

  2. Mary Beth Ellis

    I don’t have a problem with him as a middle reliever for the moment, given the injury situation, especially since dude can wield a bat. But when Reds social media celebrates every time we get out of an inning without an Arroyo homer, that should indicate A Problem.

  3. Scott Carter

    Pickle ball is a good sport for us that are aging.

  4. Eric

    I feel you, man – I’m 46 and I just had to have abdominal surgery from digging in the Carolina clay. A gardening injury. *chuckle*

    See what you have to look forward to, MBE? 🙂

  5. Mary Beth Ellis

    aw, thanks for the kind words– that really does make a difference

  6. Mary Beth Ellis

    Thanks–we Germans tend to preserve well. It’s all the constant sunscreen.