The New York Mets today signed 47-year-old Julio Franco to a senior league contract. He will report to their Frostproof, Fla. affiliate in time for the early-bird special.
OK, got that out of my system. Y'know what else is out of my system?
Cairo, DeFelice, Graves, Mientkiewicz, Offerman, Heredia, Takatsu and — this should send everybody dancing into the snow barefoot — Gerald Williams. Looper, too. (Not so sanguine about the disappearing of Robero Hernandez, but you can't have every old thing.)
We talked about dead roster spots in the second half of last season. Episodes of deadwood, really. Julio Franco's older than them all…combined. And that's not counting his real age, whatever it is (it probably ain't 47). He calls Jose Valentin “kid”. He calls Jose Reyes “as yet unborn”. Remember that charming story about how Lou Brock mistook Tom Seaver for the clubhouse boy at the 1967 All-Star Game and Seaver, awed, brought him a soda?
Big deal. Julio Franco does that sort of thing every day. Leo Mazzone spent the last five years leaving Geritol by his locker and waiting for tips.
YES, he's old. And YES, that's the stuff of about a jillion obvious jokes for us slightly younger middle-aged unathletic sorts. I'm not going to crack any more of them until further notice because last I checked, that old bastard could hit. It probably helped he was wearing an Atlanta uniform, but he's doin' somethin' right. (“Doin' somethin'” is the necessary construction here because the practice of spellin' words so they'd end in “ing” hadn't been invented when Julio was comin' up.)
As for Jose Valentin, I'll tell you what I know about him:
1) He put up great power numbers before injuries curtailed him.
2) That's the sort of thing we acquired Mo Vaughn based on EXCEPT Jose Valentin isn't penciled in as our cleanup hitter.
3) He's not John Valentin, a mistake I commonly made before John Valentin summered here in 2002.
4) I once sat in a hotel room in the vicinity of O'Hare, breathing in fumes and straining to pull in a staticky Mets-Brewers game from Milwaukee and heard Bob Uecker continually refer to the Mets manager as Bobby Valentin.
If I haven't mentioned it before, I'm psyched for Tike Redman. This is based completely on two performances against us, Bob Murphy Night when he got three hits and Murphy's Law Night  last July in Pittsburgh. What could go wrong did go wrong, though Tike was as responsible as ex-Met Braden Looper for that. If he doesn't produce for us as he did against us, it will take me months to acknowledge it. “Don't you remember what he did to us? He's GREAT!”
Of course he may literally not do a damn thing for us. A year ago we were probably cooking up snarky lines on our own about Kerry Robinson, Ron Calloway, Luis Garcia and The Old Cat Andres Galarraga. They wound up not helping us but they didn't hurt us a bit.
It's December. We've got Julio Franco. I hear the cold works wonders at preserving old treasures.