16-year MLB veteran and fan-favorite infielder John McDonald announced yesterday that he has retired from baseball at age 40. He broke the news in an unconventional fashion, and emergency rooms in the 11 cities where he played were soon overrun with grief-stricken, delirious baseball lovers.
There were no casualties, because, as true baseball fans know, John McDonald is actually Superman. After his announcement, he flew around to his fans’ hospital beds and convinced them that their lives were still worth living. His baseball days may be over, he told them (over his famous homemade brownies), but his crime-fighting, evil-destroying, Ebola-curing days have just begun.
Some people don’t buy the John-McDonald-as-Superman theory, and John himself is too humble to admit it. How else can you explain his ability to stay in baseball for nearly two decades, while all of his contemporaries were buying Hawaiian shirts and moving to Boca Raton? The sad thing about John being Superman was that, to avoid arousing suspicion, he never played to his full potential. If he had batted .900 with 500 home runs for just one season, let alone 16, his cover would’ve been blown. Bud Selig would’ve said, “Sorry, Superman, but only mortals are allowed in the MLBPA.” So he selflessly pretended to be “one of the guys,” letting lesser players hog the glory while he cured sick children from the dugout.
There was one area where John was able to play to the best of his ability: defense, the domain of the purest baseball artists. Fans were so enamored with steroid-boosted home runs and 100-mile-per-hour fastballs that they didn’t notice John flying all over the field in his cape. He played at every position during his career, and once climbed the right-field foul pole to rob Barry Bonds of his 715th career home run (Major League Baseball destroyed all footage of this play, and instigated a massive cover-up that involved BALCO, President Bush (both of them), and Batman.
Though his spectacular defensive plays were suppressed, one thing he could not hide was his personality. Fan voting propelled him to the title of Toronto Blue Jays’ most popular player in 2007. His supporters lovingly referred to him as “Johnny Mac” and “Magic Man” (they were close with that one!). He once stayed at Jacobs Field to sign autographs for 12 hours straight, then proceeded to prepare the field all by himself, and had it ready in time for the next game.
Although McDonald’s Superman duties will keep him quite busy, he plans to maintain a side career in baseball media. As luck would have it, Crooked Scoreboard is in search of a baseball writer who will never be wrong about anything.
As a journalist, I know that outing John McDonald as Superman is a big risk. But the time has come to lift the veil of ignorance from the public eye. I regret that he did not get to live openly as Superman during his career, but at least he was able to live as John McDonald, and that’s even cooler.