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Dodger Thoughts: Age is Just a Number (Even if it's The Wrong Number)

I've spent most of the year thinking I'm the wrong age.

This happened to me once before, in the year 2000. All my life, I had grown up knowing that I'd be 33 in 2000. But with a late November birthday, I actually would be 32 most of that year. Nevertheless, when the year finally came, I had so trained myself to equate 2000 with 33 that I would regularly think myself older than I actually was.

Now, for some reason, it's happening again.  I keep thinking I'm 45, when I'm only 44. I don't have as easy an explanation for this, other than it's some sort of subconscious mini-milestone rounding mechanism. Or, I'm just getting old ...

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I believe tonight, when he takes the mound at Dodger Stadium against Los Angeles, is going to be the first night I see Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey pitch in person, even though his is a career I've been following since he was a mid-'90s college star at Tennessee. Back then, I had a print subscription to Baseball America, for which Dickey was a cover story the year he was drafted in the first round.  That cover changed Dickey's life in a way the famed Sports Illustrated jinx can't match.

The Texas Rangers had drafted Dickey, and a team physician, looking at the same picture that was in a magazine stack in my apartment living room, noticed something odd about Dickey's arm. That led to an examination that revealed Dickey was entirely missing an elbow ligament. Texas immediately lowered its contract offer for Dickey, and everyone immediately lowered their expectations.

As it turned out, this was just another hurdle in a life that has seen many, many of them. Dickey, who is now a contender to start the National League All-Star Game at age 37, has written about them in a book that I'm eager to read — and will someday, before I turn 100 (or 99, while thinking I'm 100).

While I'm desperate for the Dodgers to win, or at least score three or four runs, right now there are few opposing pitchers I'm more interested in seeing, or seeing do well.

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The Dodgers' big international signing, $42 million for seven years of 21-year-old Cuban expatriate Yasiel Puig, became official today. Team officials at once celebrated and defended a signing that has been criticized by several baseball analysts (as seen here and here).

"Unlike some other clubs, the Dodgers had previously scouted Puig at international youth tournaments," reported Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. "Also, team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache used his vast network in the medical community to locate a reputable doctor in Mexico to perform a physical examination."

Added Dodger scouting director Logan White: “He reminds me a lot of Sammy Sosa. We think he has a chance to be an All-Star-caliber player.”

The Dodgers' third-round pick in this year's amateur draft, lefty pitcher Onelki Garcia, is also a Cuban defector.

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Former Dodger righty Brad Penny has been added to the active roster of the Giants, who after four consecutive shutouts this week could otherwise be excused for feeling indestructible. The Dodgers' five-game losing streak has left them in second place, behind San Francisco, for the first time since April 10. It's been a stretch that has aged all of us.

For more from Jon Weisman, visit Dodger Thoughts and follow @dodgerthoughts on Twitter.