It’s official: I am getting sort of old. For sports fans, one sign of this is when players on your favorite team are younger than you. I was born on August 19, 1986 (I’m 23) and although the New York Mets have had players that are younger than I am the past few years, this is the first season that it’s really hitting me.
Starting pitcher Jon Niese actually made his big league debut in the 2008 season and was part of the club at times last year, but this year was the first time he made the Opening Day roster, earning the fifth spot in the Mets’ rotation. Niese was born on October 27, 1986, the day the Mets won the World Series against the Boston Red Sox. I hadn’t really been “counting” Niese, but now that he’s solidified a spot on the Mets’ roster, it is time to officially recognize him.
Joining Niese on the pitching staff is rookie Jenrry Mejia, who is only 20 years old. Mejia was born on October 11, 1989. He is pitching out of the bullpen and although I was surprised he made the team out of spring training, the fact remains that Mejia is part of the squad and hasn’t given manager Jerry Manuel much reason to think he doesn’t belong.
The player who really got me thinking about all of this is first baseman Ike Davis, who was called up to the club yesterday to make his big league debut. Davis was born on March 22, 1987, so he turned 23 just last month. Davis rounds out a trio of young Mets stars who are younger than I am.
David Wright and Jose Reyes, although only a few years my senior, have always seemed even older, probably because they were Major League stars making big bucks before I started college. There’s a big difference between being nearly the same age and actually being younger, though, so the trio of Niese, Mejia, and Davis make the 2010 season the first in which I must admit that I’m aging as a fan.
Baseball is probably the best sport to measure your fan age, though perhaps I’m biased. Basketball is certainly tough, since so many players only spend a year or two in college, making the average age a lot younger. Football has much larger rosters, so it’s simply harder to keep track of everyone, though I do know that New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is younger than I am by a few months.
As my dad reminded me tonight, having a few players younger than you is not a big deal. He told me the worst part is when you are older than all of the players. Thankfully, I’ve still got a long time before that happens.