Thursday, October 25, 2012

When did baseball players get fat?

Early baseball films showing Babe Ruth skipping around the bases after a home run, his ample upper body propelled on what looked like spindly thin legs bordered on the slapstick comedy that was popular at the time.  Ruth's  excesses at the dinner table, in the smoking cars of trains and at any bar he came across were as legendary in that era as his home runs.  His appearance was about as non-athletic as could be yet he changed the game in favor of the power hitters.

When I came up, at least from what I recall, there were some big guys all right, but they still appeared trim and athletic, no bulging stomachs,  but still with the broad shoulders, and legs that stretched the uniform trousers tight, but it seems that has changed as well.

Wednesday night Pablo Sandaval hit three home runs and from the looks of him it's a good thing because given his size it didn't look like he could have made it around the bases if he had found it necessary to actually run.  Give him credit; in the first two games he did make some nimble defensive moves around third base but in no way is he the model for the perfect athlete.  And, despite his defensive moves, he is no Brooks Robinson.

There are others in the lineups of both teams, including the guy who won the triple crown in the American League, the first such accomplishment in 45 years.  Even he looks overweight despite the loose fitting uniforms these guys wear today.

But the one who sent things over the edge was Prince Fielder.  This guy looks like a 28-year-old-candidate for a heart attack with blond-tipped dreadlocks.   Early in the game a coach urged him on in a run from first to home on a long single to deep left field at the foul line.  He was still running  as he approached home, something of an accomplishment in itself given the looks of him, but the third baseman relaying from the left fielder threw him out during an athletic but insufficient hook slide at the plate.

Later in the game he hit a slow high bouncer to the pitcher, leading to a double play that caught Fielder maybe 10 steps from first base on a play that should have been close, would have been with any kind of a fast runner.  It was then the announcer said he weighed 300 pounds.   Three hundred pounds?????   A baseball player????

Admittedly I don't watch a lot of baseball any more.  It is the game I would most like to play, but for watching I prefer the more consistent action of football or basketball.  In what little I have seen, I have noticed several players in this size and body shape and wonder what happened to the finesse game I came up playing.

Is the tradeoff for power hitting worth losing the speed of a base runner or a fielder who has to cover those huge major league outfields?  Apparently it is.  I mean, the two teams I am talking about are in the World Series while a lot of little athletic guys are sitting home watching, slugging down beer trying to gain weight for next season.

There is always talk about role models.  Is a 300-pound first baseman who can barely make it around the base paths any kind of role model?  For whom?  Put him in one of those big-is-beautiful commercials and forget it.  But as role models go, you have to wonder if these overweight guys aren't an outgrowth of the steroid era where now that they can't bulk up with drugs, they bulk up at the dinner table and because of their power hitting, excesses are excused and preferred to steroid injections.  

Babe Ruth would be right at home -- as long as they kept his alcohol consumption quiet.

And, what a treat it was after this to see one of the skinny guys beat a good throw to second and steal the base, qualifying all of us, every American, for a free taco.  I don't think a fat guy thrown out at the plate or failing to leg out a double play ball can do that for us. Then again, isn't the reward of a taco, particularly one laden with sour cream or guacamole  a bit of irony, considering  it is one of those super fatty feeds we are supposed to avoid? 

END NOTE:  Apparently Fielder has taken  quite a bit of heat over his weight, in fact may have lost out in the big bucks of free agency because of it.  Still he is playing in the World Series and just about all his detractors are not.

Here is a slide show of the 25 best-known fat guys in baseball history.  Interesting to note that three of them are playing in the 2012 World Series.

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Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

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