Category Archives: MLB

Only in Miami: 160 tropical fish qualify for room and board at a stadium

The 2012 Major League Baseball Season will kick off with its first domestic game of the year as the Miami Marlins will host the St. Louis Cardinals. The game will be played at Marlins Park, a brand spankin’ new stadium located in the Little Havana section of Miami, Florida.

Most fans will be watching the action on the diamond, but other observers will be eyeing the new permanent residents of the stadium. These tenants are 160 tropical fish that are now living in dual 450 gallon fish tanks that are positioned on either side of home plate.

I’ve never been accused of hugging a tree, but there’s something about this whole situation that just seems… well… fishy.

The ballclub isn’t concerned that a misplaced ball will crack or shatter the tanks because they were constructed using bullet-proof acrylic and other similarly impregnable materials. I’m pretty sure that the broader concerns, however, relate to the effects of noise and vibrations generated by tens of thousands of rowdy sports fans and a cutting-edge sound system. Activists are concerned that this environment will critically affect the health of the fish, although the organization believes that neoprene shock absorbers will minimize the impact of the noise and stadium vibrations.

I’m not necessarily sure what to make of the issue, although I will admit that at the very least it would be kind of creepy to share popcorn and cracker jacks with a handful of sea horses and anemones. Here’s the conceptual art and a photograph; judge for yourself:


Peanuts and Cracker Jacks? Baseball weighs in with an eight pound burger, a two foot hotdog and a three pound pretzel

Earlier this month, the Washington Nationals unveiled the StrausBurger, a hefty hamburger composed of ground brisket, chuck and short ribs topped with a heck of a lot of condiments.  The damn thing weighs in at around 8 pounds and contains somewhere in the neighborhood of 8,000 to 10,000 calories.

Ironically, the sandwich is named after Stephen Strausburg, a lanky young pitcher who looks like he’s never eaten a hamburger, much less a ball of meat that weighs as much as the human head.

Nolan Ryan, the competitive owner of the Texas Rangers, is obviously not impressed with the StrausBurger.  Earlier this week, his team introduced the Champion Dog, a 2 foot hotdog served on a virtual loaf of bread that weighs in at around a pound.  The monstrosity is complimented by sauteed onions, shredded cheese, chili, jalapenos, and, of course, a side order of french fries.  As you can tell from this picture, it’s about as big as a baseball bat.

Steve Peterson, President of Classic Foods, the producer of the meat used in the Champion Dog, was obviously excited.  When referring to the surreal combination of meat trimmings, fat, flavorings and preservatives, he claimed that it was “the next ka-pow.”  I’m still not sure if he was referring to the hot dog, the 2,000 to 3,000 calories contained in the meal, or its $26 price tag.

It’s not the first time that the Texas Rangers have offered fans the opportunity to stick a foot in the grave.  In 2010, the Ballpark at Arlington began serving a pretzel that tipped the scales at an absurd 3 pounds and topped the charts at between 3,400 and 3,700 calories.  It’s served with a modest sampling of marinara sauce, honey mustard dressing and nacho cheese and served in a cardboard pizza box. At the end of the day, it weights nearly as much as a chihuahua

Ballpark Operations Manager Casey Rapp explained the twisted reasoning behind the knot-shaped combination of flour and salt by reasoning that “[l]ast year during the playoffs, we said, ‘We gotta come up with something that’s bigger than anything else, that really signifies Texas.'”

Mr. Rapp certainly hit a home run – no pun intended – because everything really is bigger in Texas.  Including people.  For those of you keeping score, Arlington – the home of the Texas Rangers – now ranks as the 15th fattest city in the entire country.  Over 35 percent of the city’s population is clinically obese, which is the second highest rate in the entire freakin’ country.


(And before all the southerners call foul… yes, I live in Texas.  I used to live in Arlington.  But I’m still alive)


On a slow news day, correspondents author stories about athletes exercising until they puke

It’s that time of year again.  Pitchers and catchers have already reported, hungry rookies are trying to earn a spot in the majors and aging veterans are scratching and clawing to hold on to their jobs.  Baseball is in full swing, and the countdown to opening day is well underway.

It’s also the time of year where the 24-hour-news cycle demands that local beatwriters and correspondents break news about local teams.  That’s not necessarily as easy as it may sounds.  Absent a handful of trades, a few injuries and a certain arbitration hearing, the early days of spring training aren’t the most fertile ground for compelling stories about local franchises.   Major leaguers are simply arriving at facilities, running around the diamond, playing catch and taking batting practice. Uh… woohoo?

Not surprisingly, in the collective wasteland of lackluster events, local correspondents are more than willing to author stories about sluggers exercising until they puke.

I’m talking about you, J.D. Martinez.  The 24-year-old Astros outfielder recently explained that he hired a personal trainer to help with his conditioning.  Martinez selected Nick Casazza, because the slugger wanted a trainer to use a program that would cause him to vomit.  From the Ultimate Astros blog:

“I told him, ‘If you don’t make me puke in the first week, I’m not going to come back’ ” Martinez said.

Nick Casazza needed about 10 minutes to accomplish that.

“When he went outside and threw up, he was looking at me like I was the craziest person he ever met in his life,” Casazza said. “But you know what? The kid showed up the next day. He kept coming back. I said, ‘This guy is the real deal.’ ”

Martinez, 24, remembers that first week for “puking everywhere” and for this: “I knew then he was going to be the trainer I was going to be with.”

Uh… J.D….  Nick… your realize that you can get in pretty darn good shape without puking, right?  It’s probably not the best of ideas unless, of course, you’re recycling last night’s StrasBurger.


Some things never change. Other things change.

Babe Ruth was born on February 6, 1895.  Today is his birthday.

Some things never change.  “The Babe” will always be known as one of the greatest sluggers to ever play professional baseball.  Modern athletes may be getting bigger, faster and stronger, but nobody has truly been able to touch upon Ruth’s legacy.

Some things, however, do change.  Check out this picture, courtesy of Andy Gray at Sport’s Illustrated’s SI Vault.  It shows a 13-year-old patient lighting Babe’s pipe….  at the hospital, while she is apparently confined to a bed.

/hat tip to Andy Gray @si_vault.

THE NATIONAL WAISTLINE: major league baseball and free agency serve as a reminder that obesity impacts far more than long-term physical health

DISCLAIMER:  This isn’t necessarily a post about baseball, at least insofar as it isn’t directed towards fans of our national pastime.  Personally, I get giddy when pitchers and catchers report to camp, and I’m sure that I’ll toss out a few entries about about prospects and sabermetrics during the season.  For the time being, if you’re looking to read about signings, trades and arbitration, I’d suggest looking at ESPN, Sports Illustrated, the Sporting News or HardballTalk.  

UPDATE:  Prince Fielder and the Detroit Tigers have agreed to a contract that will reportedly pay the slugger $214 million over 9 years.  Good for Prince.  Shame on Sports Illustrated for running a headline that referred to the deal as a “hefty gamble.”

Prince Fielder stands to make a heck of a lot of money.  The 27-year-old first baseman is an elite slugger and the best remaining free agent in Major League Baseball.  Any number of organizations would jump at the opportunity to insert him into their starting lineups.  They’ll have to show him the proverbial money, though, because he is asking for a contract that will pay $200 million over the next eight to ten years.

His productivity certainly suggests that he’s deserving of a lucrative contract.  Prince has, however, encountered a bit of a stumbling block in his negotiations.  Organizations are leery about committing so much money over such an extended period of time because they’re concerned about his ability to maintain his current level of production.

That’s not necessarily a surprise, simply because $200 million is a heck of a lot of money and eight to ten years is a heck of a long period of time.  Professional athletes are human, after all, and their skills and abilities will regress as they age.  Fiscal responsibility almost necessitates a comparison of the cost of later years with the expected regression in productivity during that time.

Well, maybe this situation is a little bit unusual, because Prince is a little bit different than the average major leaguer.  He stands at less than 6 feet tall but tips the proverbial scales at around 275 lbs.  In other words, he’s big, and bigger bodies typically break down at an accelerated rate.  This essentially means that clubs fear they may not realize as great of a return over the life his contract as they would if they spent their money on a more athletic and fit player.

Now, I’m not writing this post to criticize Prince, his lifestyle or his work ethic.  I’m certainly not poking fun at his size.  A lot of people have difficulty in managing their weight regardless of how often they exercise or how much attention they pay to their diet.  There’s wisdom in the old sayings, and there’s certainly wisdom in knowing that we can’t simply judge a book by its cover.

Still, we often focus on the correlation between weight and long-term well-being, but the fact of the matter is that Prince’s weight threatens to cost him millions or tens of millions of dollars in the immediate future.  Most may not be able to relate to the scope of his salary, but a number of overweight and obese people experience economic consequences that are the direct result of their build.  In fact, Americans who struggle with their weight face a variety of challenges that are wholly unrelated to the size of their waist.  For example:

  • Obese people often suffer from stereotypes and negative social stigmata.  There’s little doubt that society wants her people to be thin, attractive and athletic.  This desire has helped foster an environment where the public is literally drowning in a sea of advertisements, television programming, Hollywood productions and celebrity appearances that typically involve only the most attractive and handsome people.  Obese people, on the other hand, are often viewed as lazy, sloppy and indulgent, and they’re often blamed for being unable to attain mostly unattainable qualities.

There are a number of other consequences of obesity that do not necessarily relate to a person’s long-term physical health.  These consequences don’t even begin to account for the aggregate impact that obesity is having upon our economy.  Research has shown, for example, that obesity may already be costing employers in excess of $73 billion per year.  It is also having a significant effect on the national economy, and the collective health care costs and overall loss of productivity resulting from obesity have been estimated to cost as much as $147 billion per year.

To put this in perspective: $147 billion is more than the gross domestic product of a number of countries, such as New Zealand and Hungary, and the figure is greater than the combined gross state product of South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Vermont.


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