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    The Greg Maddux Watch: Stunning at 355

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    Baseball Told the Right Way
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      If only he knew how little I'm sorry.
    It looks like Dean Palmer is attempting a comeback. Wow. I know the Tigers need a third baseman after giving up on Eric Munson, but wow.

    Dean Palmer was an all-or-nothing hitter, striking out a lot, not getting on very often, and hitting the occasional home run. Why does it seem like guys like this always spend half their careers in Texas and Detroit?

    For Palmer, interestingly, it was both. He benefitted from having a great hitters park his entire career, in Texas, Kansas City, and Detroit (back when it was Tiger Stadium they called home). I'm not saying that inflated his stats or anything.

    The problem is, even when Palmer was in his prime, he wasn't all that great. He was a pretty good ballplayer, but even in his last semi-healthy season, Palmer was only slightly above the league average for a third baseman. And his defense was at times embarrassing.

    What would convince him that he could still make it at age 36, a full five years and several surgeries later?

    Its actually really sad. Sad as in it makes me feel sorry for the guy. It reminds me of The Shawshank Redemption when that old buck finally gets out of prison and ends up hanging himself after realizing he's been "institutionalized". Sports are an institution too.

    Think about it. Just like the lifetime prisoner, a baseball player has never known anything else. And how could we expect him to? For most ballplayers, life has centered around a sport since they could walk, and they've likely been paid to play since they were 18. When you are a superstar athelete, there is no time for anything else. No job. No school. Nothing but baseball.

    And in reality, Dean Palmer's third attempt is not even a blip on the radar screen of ill-fated comebacks and drawn out retirements. The sports world is filled with them. Does anybody remember Robert Parish still playing basketball even after his knees would hardly get him past half court? Has Bill Parcels been able to stay away after retiring three times? Will Phil Jackson really stay retired? Is it really worth it for Mo Vaughn to try again? Does anybody remember how painful it was to watch Bruce Smith pursue the sack record?

    In reality, every situation is unique, and I have no idea the rationale behind staying in a game well past your welcome. I do know that sometimes you need to step outside yourself and view yourself in the eyes of others.

    I wish him luck, but I hope there is something else waiting for him come April. Because Dean Palmer sure as hell won't be playing baseball.