Fans hear regularly just how much baseball players have improved in terms of strength, conditioning, and speed over the years, but such a generalization ignores the glaring omissions. Not everybody looks like Dan Uggla and requires a scratching post to get to the spot between the shoulder blades. As John Kruk famously pronounced, “Lady, I’m not an athlete. I’m a professional baseball player.”
Well put, Kruk. So here’s a hat tip to the guys who appear to be more John Kruk than Ron Gant. For the waitstaff at Golden Corral and every pizza buffet in every major league baseball city, here is the “All Expandables” team.
- Adam Dunn – 6’6″, 285 pounds might be a little generous for “Big Donkey”, but when you have 403 career home runs at age 32, you get to knock off 5-10…..errrr 40 pounds.
- Ronny Paulino – 6’3″, 250 pounds puts the “back” in “backstop”. As a pitcher, you want a guy who can block the plate, and Paulino basically forms an eclipse under a facade of catcher’s gear.
- CC Sabathia – 6’7″, 290 pounds. If Sabathia is 290 pounds, then I’m a burrito, and you can eat me. Seriously, when you can make a New York Yankees uniform look like a huge set of pajamas, you have that “livin large” thing down pat.
- Jeff Niemann – 6’9″, 285. I’ve seen offensive linemen in the NFL smaller than this guy. He’s like Andre the Giant after a year on the Atkin’s Diet.
- Victor Marte – 6’2″, 255. He’s the world’s largest Weeble. He often wobbles, but he has yet to fall down on the mound.
- Jonathan Broxton – 6’4″, 300. Remember that scene in Tommy Boy when Chris Farley is singing “Fat Guy in a Little Coat”? Now imagine that scene with Broxton’s body and Farley’s voice. Classic.
- Carlos Lee – 6’2″, 270. Lee has always been a sizable guy since entering MLB, but he seems to have ballooned since signing that 6 yr / $100M deal before the 2007 season. Can’t say that I blame him one bit, either.
- Kenley Jansen – 6’5″, 260. Force equals mass multiplied by acceleration. If Jansen just moves down the mound in the direction of home plate, that must guarantee at least a 70 mph pitch just based on soft tossing a baseball.
- David Ortiz – 6’4″, 250. Umm, yeah. 250. If you subtract 10 pounds for every 100 home runs hit in his career, then maybe you arrive at “250″. That might be the only plausible explanation.
In fairness, America has a propensity for eating fast food and tackling large portion sizes like ravenous spork-wielding animals. However, all the aforementioned players have ready access to medical teams, nutritionists, numerous healthy restaurant options, capricious workout spaces, and the means to employ a person trainer or chef. I kid because I care. The NFL has long seen many overweight players pass away far too early from heart disease or some other condition strongly connected to obesity.
Shouldn’t the MLB or at least the MLB Player’s Association encourage the guys who are large and in charge to look out for their long term health prospects? Whether your allegiance as a fan lies with “Big Papi” or the “Big Donkey”, I would hope that you see the toll that the extra pounds can take on even professional athletes. While I root for a lot of these guys to make the right play on the field, I’m now also cheering for them to make the right dietary choices off of it. If my kid chooses to look up to a ballplayer, I hope at least he can see them past the muffin tops.