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.

Diamondbacks sign Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $4 million deal

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 14:  Jeff Mathis #6 of the Miami Marlins hits a grand slam during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on June 14, 2016 in San Diego, California.   (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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The Diamondbacks announced on Monday that the club signed catcher Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $4 million contract.

Mathis, 33, isn’t much with the stick as he owns a career .197/.254/.308 triple-slash line over parts of 12 seasons in the majors. The veteran, though, is well-regarded for his ability to play defense, call games, handle a pitching staff, and get along with his teammates in the clubhouse. As Craig mentioned last year, Mathis is often talked about as a future manager.

The D-Backs non-tendered Welington Castillo on Friday, so Chris Herrmann and Mathis are the team’s two catchers as presently constructed.

Jimmy Rollins wants to play in 2017

ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 10:  Jimmy Rollins #7 of the Chicago White Sox at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 10, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins wants to continue playing in 2017.

Rollins, 38, signed a minor league deal with the White Sox for the 2016 season but hit a disappointing .221/.295/.329 over 166 plate appearances. The club released Rollins in the middle of June and he did not sign with a new team. He did join TBS as part of their playoff coverage.

Rollins is almost certainly looking at another minor league contract and will have to earn his way onto a major league roster by performing well in spring training.