Check out the awkward rookie portraits for seven retiring MLB players
The end of the baseball season is always sad: Our nights are lonely and barren without games to watch. We're forced to do something other than update our fantasy rosters on company time. There are no arguments to start over whether the manager should have gone to the bullpen or not.
But worst of all, thanks to time's cruel and ever-present march forward, are the players who have retired -- those who must say goodbye to baseball in exchange for a life of leisurely golf outings or television commentary.
But while they may not show up in tomorrow's box score (unless you're watching an adult baseball league), we will always remember them as the cherubic, baby-faced players they once were.
Let's look back at seven rookie photos from seven recent retirees -- photos which captured these athletic legends before they filled out and their facial hair fully grew in.
Career: 165-143, 4.04 ERA, 2,576 2/3 IP, 6.6 K/9, 3.7 BB/9
We all rejoiced when Zito returned to the big leagues this year -- even if hisface-off against former teammate Tim Hudson was a bit like the return of "Arrested Development": A great idea, if weak in execution. But now Zito is off to work on his music career, which fits his current look much better than his rookie one, which seemed to indicate, "Hey, umm, are the showers, umm, public?"
Career: 222-133, 3.49 ERA, 3,126 2/3 IP, 6.0 K/9, 2.9 BB/9
When Hudson's career started, he looked like he was in a dark country band, singing songs about lonesome cowboys who had to face hard moral choices every day.
At the end of his career, he looked like one of those hardened men at the edge of society.
Career: 9,692 PA, .277/.331/.461, 353 HR, 1,391 RBI, 195 SB
Have you ever wondered if there are people out there that simply don't age? That vampires exist (and go to high school)? Well, just look at that photo above. Seems like we've just found one of the undead.
Career: 43-46, 3.97 ERA, 926 IP, 7.0 K/9, 3.8 BB/9
Jeremy Affeldt has seen some stuff, man. He's seen some stuff.
Career: 8,986 PA, .283/.341/.492, 386 HR, 1,417 RBI, 29 SB
While Ramirez's career took him from Pittsburgh to Chicago to Milwaukee before finally ending up back in Pittsburgh, he never lost those sultry eyes for the camera. Sadly, he didn't get to take another glamour shot in his final season.
Career: 82-81, 4.62 ERA, 1,532 IP, 6.7 K/9, 3.2 BB/9
There was a time, back in 2009, when it looked like Chen wasn't going to be seen in the Majors again. After all, he had pitched only 10 innings in 2007 and missed all of 2008. But no, Chen came back to become a key contributor in the Royals' rotation, going 35-29 with a 4.40 ERA between 2010-12.
Of course, to finish his career, he went back to the same color combination from when he broke in as a member of the Braves.
Career: 153-131, 3.75 ERA, 2,419 2/3 IP, 7.5 K/9, 1.9 BB/9
Sure, he may have started his career looking every bit like he was looking for a walk-on role in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High: The Musical," but he ended it starring in "Fast Times At Ridgemont High 2: When the Fast Times Aren't so Fast."
Judging from his Twitter handle, he accepted that, too.
Thank you baseball. I played this beautiful game for 30 years. I took my jersey off for the last time tonight. It was an honor. #ithrew88- dan haren (@ithrow88) October 22, 2015