Friday, March 13, 2015

Mike Napoli hasn't had a dream In 8 years

Image result for mike napoli streets of boston
Well no shit, he hasn't slept

This is a real story and here's the proof: 

by: Ricky Doyle (Huh, a "Ricky Doyle" writing about sports in Boston. I never would'a imagined...)

In case you couldn't be bothered to read Mr. Doyle's blurb I'll sum it up in the remaining two sentences of this paragraph. Boston Red Sox 1B Mike Napoli spent the last 8 years sleeping so poorly that he wasn't unable to dream. This offseason he had surgery correct sleep apnea and now he dreams again.

When this story peaked my interest I ran to my best friend on the internet and found out a few things. One of those things is the fact that Mike Napoli is 6 months younger than I am. I've always sort of loosely followed his career from back when he seemed like a catcher with some offensive potential that Mike Scioscia just plain didn't like (Scioscia is particular about his catchers). He was then traded to Toronto, who promptly flipped him to Texas where he had some good seasons and then signed as a free agent with Boston. At that point catching was in the rearview mirror and Napoli became the Red Sox full time first baseman. That much I already knew, but what I also learned on my fact finding mission was how good of a hitter Mike Napoli has always been. His career OPS+ over nine years is 126. He's lost some games to being a catcher, a few injuries and work load concerns, but Napoli has been a 26% better than average hitter at a time when offense is being oppressed. The guy can hit and he's a pretty darn good defensive 1B.

The part of this story that I find the most curious has to do with our very similar ages. I more or less know what sorts of changes you go through from your 20's to your 30's. Mental, physical, mood to keep it brief. I honestly can't imagine how hard all of that would have been to go through while not sleeping at all. Without being able to shut down enough to let your brain fix itself. I cringe thinking about it. I'm sure anybody with sleep apnea knows even better, but the fact remains: you gotta sleep. 

Even Napoli himself said his life was so miserable last year that he considered retiring. I don't know about you, but I've never seen a picture of the guy looking like he'd didn't enjoy his job. So it must have been bad.

As much as I'd like to write a fiction series on Mike Napoli's new dreams... (I'm leaving that one in there. Don't nobody steal it) I'm just going to keep it focused on real world implications. With Napoli entering his age 33 season we are likely seeing the end his "peak", but its certainly possible he could keep up his current pace. He's an athletic guy with a career .359 OBP who strikes out a bunch, but still manages 20 or so HR's and as many RBI's as you'll put in front of him. His BA is a lottery ticket. As long as he stays healthy, Napoli should age pretty gracefully as a ball player. 

Then again, he may still have 1 or 2 "peak" years left in him. And for the first time in his career he can sleep. I've spent a considerable part of my adult years figuring out how to get a good night's sleep and once I got it, what a difference it made. At one point in my early 20's I went like 2 or 3 years without dreaming. It was hell. Now I dream, and I've never felt better or more productive. There's no reason that Napoli can't have a big time boost now he's finally able to dream about himself as a hockey player who lives at Costco and exclusively eats cereal like the rest of us sleepers.

That's why this year I'm betting on Mike Napoli. The guy can hit. He's always been able to, but he hasn't always been able to sleep in the way that improves his life. This year will be the first year in Mike Napoli's career that he's been able to dream after a game. That will mean something.

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