When the last glacier slips beneath the sea and Earth dies off, Nelson Cruz will still be smacking dingers
Every season, I thought it would end. You probably did, too.
Even six years ago, when Nelson Cruz hit 40 home runs for the first time for the Orioles, I thought that was it.
Sure, 40 is a huge number, but he'd never done it before -- he'd only reached 30 once -- and he was already 34 years old. He'd already been in the league for 10 years. It was a fluke. He'd probably be retired in two years, playing in some celebrity softball game with Justin Bieber.
And then the Mariners gave him a four-year contract. We all laughed. Maybe he'd be good for a year or two. But four? He probably won't hit 40 home runs again. Maybe 25.
But no, Cruz continued to defy time and bomb away out in Seattle. He hit 44 dingers in his first year and 43 in the second. He was clearing entire stadiums at the age of 36.
Still, you thought, there's no way this guy can keep up this pace. He's into his late-30's. Players just don't continue doing this. He was old enough to be some player's dads. He takes naps in the clubhouse. And then Cruz hit 39 in his third year, leading the league with 119 RBIs. He hit 37 in the following, the year he turned 38. He was Benjamin Button. He was like a bottle of fine wine, if wine could talk and walk and crush home runs.
OK, but that's it. That was enough. Even after all of this, he had to decline. He had to be done. He was entering his age-39 season. He would be the oldest everyday offensive player in baseball.
Teams seemed to realize this. Despite his great 2018, Cruz languished in free agency for months, eventually settling for a one-year contract with the Twins. And then, well, he continued to destroy baseballs.
He has 32 total homers and has hit three in one game twice in the past two weeks. He has 16 in his last 24 games. He hit two more last night. He's a machine. He will never, ever stop.
The Twins should extend him to a five-year deal. Maybe 10. Maybe a lifetime contract. He's only getting better. He'll only continue hitting more and more home runs. Maybe until there are no more left to hit.
When the final super storm wipes the rest of us away, when the last flower in Earth's forest wilts and dies, when the sun burns out into just another anonymous star in our polluted skies, Nelson Cruz will be out there launching baseballs out and over a wall. Go ahead and doubt him. It just makes him stronger.
Matt Monagan is a writer for MLB.com. In his spare time, he travels and searches Twitter for Wily Mo Peña news.