Michael Cuddyer, the baseball player, is giving way to Michael Cuddyer, the magician.
"Now my son and my daughter are starting to get to the age where I can show them some [magic tricks], and [they] actually start to get it," Cuddyer told reporters on a conference call on Saturday afternoon. "I've got a whole new generation of audience coming up."
Cuddy will be going from performing in front of some of the most talented grown men in the world to working his craft in front of his young children. He's okay with that, as Cuddyer mentioned in an article he wrote for The Players' Tribune* after it was announced that he would retire, leaving the New York Mets and a big chunk of money after the first year of a two-year, $21 million deal.
*Seriously, go read that; maybe he should consider being a writer instead of a magician!
It was a decision that didn't come easy for Cuddyer, but it's no surprise that he had the self-awareness to know when it was time. Despite a strong second half, in which he hit .302/.352/.458 in 105 plate appearances for the National League-champion Mets, the 15-year big league veteran didn't seem right.
He didn't feel right, either.
"Thinking about how I was feeling and how I was looking forward to the offseason, I just realized I wasn’t going to be able to give what I expected to give on the field," Cuddyer said. "I knew I could still bring leadership and quality, but I pride myself in playing the game the right way, and saw that I couldn’t bring that anymore."
"And with great humility, I made the decision."
That's not to say Cuddyer won't miss being around the game. After all, we're talking about a guy who gave more to the game of baseball than most others who have played it.
"I'm going to miss it, obviously, which is pretty cliché. I'm going to miss the guys and the camaraderie," Cuddyer said. "The guys you go to battle with every day for 200-plus days [per year]."
Cuddyer's knowledge of the game and ability to connect with people would make him a great candidate for a major league coaching job someday. Despite missing things about the game, that's not a jump he's ready to make right now.
"As far as putting the uniform on again and being a coach, that’s in the much distant future," Cuddyer explained. "I don’t see myself traveling at the major league level on an everyday basis anytime soon, especially while my kids are only 4 and 7 years old."
Still, Cuddy isn't ruling out the possibility of eventually suiting up again and helping out a big league team.
"In the distant future, if I can stay relevant, maybe. You’re never going to close the door on anything," Cuddyer indicated. "But definitely not in the foreseeable future. And that’s in any organization, as far as being a major league coach."
"It’s not something that my family and I are looking at too strongly right now," he added.
In the end, it's fitting that Cuddyer decided to call it quits in the same year as his longtime Minnesota Twins teammates LaTroy Hawkins, with whom he also played on the 2014 Colorado Rockies, and Torii Hunter.
"I texted all of them earlier and said, 'If you guys aren’t playing, I’m not playing,'" Cuddyer recounted.
But for Cuddyer, who provided plenty of magic in a career that saw him hit nearly 200 home runs, see 90 postseason plate appearances and finish 13 percent better than the average offensive player in his era, there's plenty of playing ahead. It will just be with different, much younger teammates and spectators -- ones that will appreciate his magic tricks infinitely more than any of the hundreds of big leaguers, coaches or media types did.
Retirement, it seems, ain't so bad.
Quotes lightly edited for clarity.