If you’re a baseball fan, you’ll want to read this blog.
If you are a fat activist or victim of fat discrimination, you will want to read this blog.
Years ago, I was home watching a Saturday Game of the Week on NBC TV. I forget who the Detroit Tigers were playing, but an outfielder named Gates Brown was at the plate to pinch hit. Gates smacked a liner to the outfield, then decided to stretch it into a double. The play was close, so Brown had to slide into second. When he got up, he looked like he crapped his pants, but in front rather than in the back. Several days later, he was fined by his team, and the story came out. He had gone to the clubhouse, and grabbed a couple of hot dogs. When he was suddenly called into pinch hitting duty, he stuffed the dogs into his uniform pockets. “I decided to tell him the truth. I said, ‘I was hungry. Besides, where else can you eat a hot dog and have the best seat in the house?”
Gotta love the fat athletes.
Prince Fielder is an All Star baseball player. His contributions in the 2011 season led the Milwaukee Brewers to the playoffs. Fielder is only 27 years old, with incredible power, and reaches base consistently. While his teammate Ryan Braun won the NL Most Valuable Player award, he couldn’t have done so without benefiting from Prince Fielder batting behind him in the Brewers lineup.
So, Prince Fielder became a free agent at the end of the 2011 season. His numbers dictated that he receive a free agent signing similar to other great first basemen, Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels, Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies, Adrian Gonzalez of the Boston Red Sox or Mark Teixeira of the Yankees. The average for these other guys is around $22 million.
So, why is it that less than 30 days from spring training, no one has signed Prince Fielder?
According to many, it’s because he’s fat.
True story. That has been the knock on Fielder since he was drafted. Take a look at this quote from John Sickels, who then was writing for ESPN.com on the side, and said this about Fielder in an article breaking down the 2002 draft:
Prince also has an advanced understanding of the supper table, exceeding 300 pounds at times. He’s down to 250 now, thanks to a strict diet and training regimen pushed by his father. Scouts worry that he won’t be able to keep the weight off, which would likely limit him to DH duty in the long run. Few doubt he’ll hit for power, perhaps even more than Dad did. This pick may have been a stretch at No. 7, in that there were more balanced players available.
I guess “more balanced” = not fat.
Keep in mind that this was written over 9 years ago. Well, let’s see what he’s accomplished since then.
Let’s see, he’s played in 998 games, with 3,527 at bats. He’s had 996 hits, with 200 doubles, 9 triples, and 230 home runs, and 656 runs batted in. Keep in mind that he hits BEHIND Ryan Braun, meaning he doesn’t get the same protection that Braun gets.
Not bad for a fat man.
Here’s a little more info on his 2011 stats:
2011 League Ranks:
• 2nd in NL in HR (38)
• 2nd in NL in RBI (120)
• 7th in NL in R (95)
• 2nd in NL in BB (107)
• 3rd in NL in SLG (.566)
• 3rd in NL in OPS (.981)
From a recent blog on why no one should take Prince in a long term deal.
Would you care to guess how many major-league players have stood less than six feet tall and weighed at least 275 pounds?
One: Prince Semien Fielder.
How many major-league players have stood less than six feet tall and weighed (or rather, been listed at) more than 250 pounds?
Five. Fielder, plus pitcher Bartolo Colon, Garland Buckeye, Rich “El Guapo” Garces, and first baseman Tommy Everidge, who got into 24 games with the A’s in 2009.
The pitchers don’t tell us anything about Fielder’s future, nor does Everidge.
My personal opinion is that Prince Fielder’s height and Prince Fielder’s weight go a long way toward explaining why he’s still a free agent. I suspect that Scott Boras’s lovely encyclopedia of Prince Fielder trivia is loaded with numbers that make Fielder look like a future Hall of Famer, both durable and powerful. But I suspect the numbers 5’11” and 275 don’t appear anywhere in the encyclopedia, and that absence is glaring to its front-office readers.
If you’re a general manager, don’t you have to be wondering how much Prince Fielder really weighs? And how much he’ll weigh in 2017? And if there’s a limit to how much a 5’11” player can weigh, and still play 150 games at first base every season?
When you spend upwards of $120 million, you want to have some sort of historical guide. And ideally something not issued by the Boras Publishing House.
One baseball analyst and blogger actually made a chart where he “proves” that fatter players decline in talent faster than their non fat counterparts.
These are the “conclusions” that are made by the writer:
1) Heavy players peak a few years earlier than average players
2) Heavy players fall off the map once they are on the wrong side of 30
The second piece of information is what is of interest to us regarding Fielder. As a 27 year-old free agent he has passed his peak years according to this curve – what we want to know is how is he going to perform over the life of his next contract.
So, do the executives who run the teams in Major League Baseball read these Dr. Oz type articles, and buy into them? Well they must, since no one is offering this guy an extended deal (more than a couple of years).
I want to point out here that there have been a ton (no pun intended) of ballplayers who had long productive careers, and few even made it into the Baseball Hall Of Fame. To name some of the greats:
1. Prince’s dad Cecil Fielder (another example of genetic predisposition to fat)
2. David Wells – Pitched 19 yrs. in the majors, and even pitched a perfect game.
3. CC Sabbathia (in the midst of a hall of fame career)
4. John “Boog” Powell – a stellar 16 year career with the Orioles (who also owns Boogs BBQ at Camden Yards)
5. Fernando Valenzuela – All star pitcher, mostly with the LA Dodgers
6. Hack Wilson – Hall Of Fame outfielder & holder of the single season RBI record
7. Kirby Puckett – Twins perrenial, 10x All Star, and won 12 Gold Gloves (for running to and catching balls)
8. Tony Gwynn – One of the greatest of the 90’s, and another Hall of Fame player
9. Babe Ruth – The ultimate fat man, used to be season HR holder until the steroid era buried his stats.
I could go on and on, and as you can see, for players with REAL talent, their abilities don’t diminish as they age any worse than any other player.
Despite this, Fielder is being critiques in baseball circles for his weight. Here are some comments from so called baseball fans who also must be experts on health and weight:
“Well no, we’ve long established that he is indeed, technically speaking, morbidly obese. What I want to know is when mere speculation becomes actual rumor, and/or can a decaying rumor deteriorate into mere speculation?
Doctoral dissertations have been constructed on less weigthy interrogations than that.”
“The Fat Prince is beginning to resemble a dirigible on whose passenger decks there has been a smallpox outbreak, drifting from country to country in forlorn hope that someone will offer it a tie-down. He’s a one-man Voyage of the Damned for the diabetes and bariatric generation.”
“I know that Prince Fielder is fat. You know it. He knows it. He’s been a tubby bitch his whole life. He may actually have silverfish nesting in his rolls.”
“Everytime Prince Fielder comes on the screen my wife asks me to adjust the set. ‘How can anyone that fat run and play baseball?” asks the wife…..”
Haters gonna hate, but it isn’t fair that comments like this will end up costing him contract money.
I know, it’s hard to feel bad for a guy who even with discrimination will be a very comfortable millionaire when he retires, but it’s still discrimination. I hope and pray that he sticks it up everyone’s ass and has a long and productive career, culminating in a trip to Cooperstown, NY where his Baseball Hall Of Fame plaque will be waiting for him.
Maybe then, everyone will shut the hell up.