Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Yesterday was Julio Franco's birthday, and I missed it.
Happily, Tim Kurkjian of ESPN took note of the occasion in Franco defying the aging process, in which we learned that Julio likes to take BP with a weighted donut on his bat, eats way more meals than a regular person, and takes a lot of naps. Well, don't we all, when we're pushing 50?
Best fun fact from Kurkjian's story:
Franco made his major-league debut in 1982... with the Phillies. Other members of that team included Stan Bahnsen, Del Unser, Pete Rose, Bill Robinson, Steve Carlton, Ron Reed and Sparky Lyle, all of whom are now in their 60s.
His former teammmates are getting too old for old-timers games?
This season, Julio is batting .299 and slugging .503 - that's the second best slugging percentage of his career. He's now got 2513 hits, although the last time he had 400 at bats in a season was 1997, and he had no major league hits in 1998, 1999, and 2000.
He might be getting better. Coming into this season, his batting averages over the last three years were .284, .299, and .309. He already has 9 HR this season, which is the most he's hit in any season since 1996.
His ESPN page says he was born in San Pedro de Macoris on August 23, 1958. Which makes him exactly one year younger than Mike Boddicker, a RH pitcher some of you old folks might remember. Now we all know about San Pedro - it's not really as big as Brazil, even if it's the birthplace of George Bell, Rico Carty, Luis Castillo, Mariano Duncan, Tony Fernandez, Pedro Guerrero, Manuel Lee, Jose Offerman, Rafael Ramirez, Juan Samuel, Alfonso Soriano, Sammy Sosa, Joaquin Andujar, Daniel Cabrera, and Guillermo Mota.
However, the Julio Franco page over at baseball-reference.com says that he was born on August 23, 1958 in Hato Mayor in the Dominican. This puzzled me, as you can well imagine. I went to the CIA's always helpful page on the Dominican Republic, where I learned that the population was almost 9 million, but I discovered nothing about San Pedro de Macoris and Hato Mayor. Further research, however, uncovered a zoomable map over at Hispaniola.com, from which we can see that Hato Mayor is about 30 miles straight up the road from San Pedro de Macoris. Where Julio was actually born remains a mystery.
Anyway, a belated happy birthday, and many happy returns. What's not to like? He wants to play until he's 50, and why not? He's not just hanging around. He's helping his team win the division. And, folks, I want a litttle credit here. I said, way back in my Atlanta Braves preview, that Franco was still "definitely a better hitter than... well, Shea Hillenbrand for starters."
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS 83 187 26 56 9 1 9 40 19 41 4 0 .299 .359 .503 .862The day's games:
Toronto (Bush 2-7, 4.73) at New York (Mussina 12-7, 3.88)
Los Angeles (Colon 16-6, 3.46) at Baltimore (Bedard 6-4, 3.12)
Oakland (Saarloos 8-6, 4.15) at Detroit (Bonderman 14-9, 4.02)
Cleveland (Elarton 7-6, 4.41) at Tampa Bay (McClung 4-7, 6.63)
Seattle (Franklin 6-13, 5.10) at Texas (Dominguez 0-3, 5.11)
Boston (Clement 11-3, 4.38) at Kansas City (Carrasco 5-7, 4.89)
Chicago (Buehrle 13-6, 3.07) at Minnesota (Mays 6-8, 5.00)
Atlanta (Sosa 8-2, 2.63) at Chicago (Prior 9-4, 3.66)
Cincinnati (Ortiz 8-8, 5.44) at Washington (Patterson 7-4, 2.38)
St.Louis (Carpenter 17-4, 2.29) at Pittsburgh (Wells 7-12, 4.46)
Florida (Burnett 12-6, 2.90) at Milwaukee (Ohka 8-7, 3.78)
Houston (Astacio 2-6, 6.21) at San Diego (Park 10-6, 6.07)
New York (Seo 5-1, 1.09) at Arizona (Ortiz 4-7, 6.44)
Colorado (Kim 3-10, 5.43) at Los Angeles (Houlton 4-7, 5.24)
Philadelphia (Lidle 9-10, 4.64) at San Francisco (Hennessey 4-5, 5.09)