Baseball is trying to cut out the junk food

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Don’t freak out — you’ll still be able to get  your Luther Burger at Gateway Grizzlies games — this is about the players eating better:

At baseball’s just-concluded winter meetings in Indianapolis, major
and minor league strength and conditioning coaches devoted 12 hours on
Saturday–about half of their total meeting time–to discussing matters
such as including edamame and snow peas in the postgame buffet to
whether teams should order “fun size” candy bars rather than the odious
regular-sized variety.

“There’s nothing wrong with a Reese’s peanut butter cup every now
and then,” says Perry Castellano, the Minnesota Twins’ strength and
conditioning coordinator. “The issue is when somebody eats eight at a
time.”

The article says that the trainers are trying to do things like introduce edamame to the post-game buffet and that the Phillies and Rays are
experimenting with the idea of giving players foods rich in antioxidant grains like “quinoa,” “teff” and “spelt,” whatever the hell that is.  This is dangerous territory, though: Ask yourself: if you’re a free agent, and team A is offering you $25 million and burgers and team B is offering you $25 million and “spelt,” who are you signing with?

Seriously though, it has always amazed me that big time professional
athletes are basically given boxes of free candy bars and cookies and
burgers and stuff right inside the locker room before and after games like baseball players are. 
No, there aren’t a ton of really out-of-shape ballplayers, but there
isn’t a team that doesn’t have at least one guy who ate his way out of
being a productive player in recent years. Why make it easier for them
by having garbage around?

So I agree with the article: teams should totally go the healthy route by replacing big candy bars with “fun size” candy bars and burgers with White Castle sliders.  You know, for the good of the players.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉