Jon Jones, Mauricio Rua

Ballplayers training with mixed martial arts

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It’s all fun and games until someone takes their training out to the mound with them for a post-beanball donnybrook!

Mixed martial arts may be illegal as a competitive sport in some states, but several baseball players are incorporating its fighting methods into their training routines.

Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox, Brad Penny of the Detroit Tigers and Russell Martin of the Yankees have used the sport’s punches and kicks to improve their throwing and swinging. In addition to improving overall fitness, Martin said, mixed martial arts can make an athlete mentally tougher.

I never know what to think of these kinds of stories. I mean, I have zero doubt that this kind of training is beneficial because it sounds like hardcore stuff. MMA guys are certainly in good shape and anything that helps with strength, balance, flexibility and mental toughness has to be a good thing.

At the same time, I can’t help but smile at this, fully aware of the long and rich history of taking popular cultural phenomenons and turning them into workouts. As God is my witness I remember seeing a record/book set — this predated the era in which most people had VCRs — called “Disco your way to Health” or something very close to it. I’m sure there was a roller boogie followup. Not to say that MMA is so ephemeral as disco and roller boogie — it’s pretty established at this point — but there is something about all of this that makes me wonder how much money is being made off of this kind of thing, if not for the ballplayers, than at least for the common schlub in suburban gyms around the USA.

(thanks to Hannah for the heads up)

Not that the exercise industry is the worst offender. When it comes to exploiting the cultural zeitgeist for a quick buck, nothing beats the world of business book publishing.  Seriously: if you can’t find a book that fits the pattern of “[latest trendy pursuit] Lessons for the Businessman” on the shelf down at the Barnes and Noble, you can assured that it either just went out of print or it’s currently being written.

But now we’re into another rant, so let us end this post by thinking about Adam Dunn in an MMA match.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.