Welcome to the Thursday edition of The Cooler, where you’re only as old as you feel. Let’s get to it:
*Birthdays are a good reminder of the aging process, and I’m hit with a double-whammy right now: My 42nd full trip around the sun will be complete next week, but in the mean time yet another person younger than me has been hired in a position of authority in Minnesota sports.
Rocco Baldelli, who just turned 37 last month and is therefore almost a full five years younger than me, is the new Twins manager.
Judging by his Twitter feed, he might be the coolest boss in Twin Cities sports and the only hipster in the bunch — unless I missed it somewhere and Mike Zimmer or P.J. Fleck also dressed up like a character from True Detective for a Halloween Phish concert (Baldelli is a huge fan) in 2014.
Baldelli also has tweeted about the Netflix show Stranger Things, taken a shot at outgoing EPA director Scott Pruitt, retweeted posts about Bob Dylan and Prince (as if he knew he would be one of us someday) and frequently posts pictures of his dog.
It’s only a matter of time before he has a condo in North Loop to complete his profile.
But Baldelli is not the youngest of the major coaches and sports executives in this town. He’s just part of a growing group that can make a guy feel old until he gains some perspective (more on that in a minute).
The chief baseball executive who hired Baldelli, Derek Falvey, is 35. New Gophers women’s basketball coach Lindsay Whalen is 36, as is Gophers men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino. Fleck is 37 for another month.
All except Whalen replaced people in the same jobs who were a decade or two older.
You’d think this youth movement was something new, and it kind of is. But some of this feeling of youth is a product of eyes of the beholder.
If you were 10 (like I was) when Tom Kelly took over as full-time manager of the Twins in the 1987 season, he didn’t seem exceedingly young even if he was, at age 36, even younger than Baldelli is now.
Bud Grant was 29 when he accepted the job coaching the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Vikings wanted him to be their head coach at age 33 as an expansion team in 1961, but he waited until the ripe old age of 39 in 1967 before he took the job.
Flip Saunders 40 when he took over (the first time) as Wolves head coach during the 1995-96 season.
More recently, Mike Yeo was 37 when he accepted the job as Wild head coach in 2011.
Some of the difference now — in addition to the advancing age of the author — is that managers and head coaches across sports are skewing younger as a byproduct of teams craving the newly valued skill of relating to players.
From all indications, Baldelli checks that box and more.
But if you think I feel old, think about Joe Mauer. If he comes back for another season, he’ll only be two years younger than his manager.
Wait, that makes me feel old, too.