The Worst Shape Of Our Lives: Yakkin' About Pitchers and Catchers

Where are all the fat relievers, and our "Klesko-Style" nachos?
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Put 'em on the glass.

Photo by Keith Allison, via Flickr/Wikimedia Commons.

David Raposa: I didn't know that pitchers and catchers had reported until this afternoon. I feel like a kid that forgot to open his Christmas presents. Excuse me while I snort up all the Geritol in my medicine chest.

David Roth: I'd been hearing for a few weeks that formerly fat dudes were in the best shape(s) of their lives, so I sensed it was coming. But I also somehow missed that there are actually guys down there. But it's real. Pitchers pitching, catchers catching, Kevin Millwood in a Beef 'O' Brady's being difficult to the wait-staff. "I specifically requested extra meat slurry on these nachos, miss. And this is not thousand-island dressing. Do you not know what 'Ryan Klesko Style' means with regards to appetizers? Have you not made nachos before?"

David Roth: I know they're clichéd, but I really do love reading about sluggers showing up being all, "Yeah, all credit to Billy Blanks. The new Adam Dunn is 100-percent a result of Tae Bo." Joba Chamberlain's like "I cut the ham out of my diet, and there was nothing left, so now I'm like 200 pounds." Great job getting in shape, everyone!

David Raposa: Hey now—fertility-idol-shape is still a shape. But (and I hope this is the only time I ever use this phrase) look at Bobby Jenks!

David Roth: Jenks actually looks positively un-glutinous, there. That said, I don't want to see a not-fat Bobby Jenks. Skinny Jonah Hill already freaks me out.

David Raposa: Real name, no gimmicks! He might actually be in best-shape shape!

David Roth: He basically lost Bill Mueller's body mass.

David Raposa: I believe the British would call that "0.75 Molinas."

David Roth: One stone = Two Jamey Carrolls.

David Raposa: The accompanying "before" pic is the worst. It's the equivalent of those hair club shots that shows Bald Dude scowling, stubble-ridden, and in the sort of un-lighting that'd make a pug look terrifying.

David Roth: Except in Jenks's case, instead of harsh fluorescent lighting and dirty hair, it's just him running in an Under Armour top.

David Raposa: It would've also been nice for the photographer to take an action pic of Jenks' tits obeying the laws of gravity. This isn't Baywatch, people.

David Roth: It is amazing, though. And possibly never to be replicated, what with all our best fat LOOGY's apparently spending the offseason doing P90X. Is Dennys Reyes still out there? Can someone call Ray King away from KrispyTime, his successful chain of family style buffets? Will no reliever show up at Spring Training in The Worst Shape of His Life?

David Raposa: Jose Valverde's still rolling around. I'm sure Papelbon will grow into his contract by the start of 2015. And there are still those dudes, relievers and otherwise, whose fat solely accumulates around their midsection and nowhere else. Like a certain recent retiree.

David Roth: Will baseball be sadder because Tim Wakefield will not be around, acting like a grumpy Republican congressman and looking like a no-longer-that-young Republican congressman?

David Raposa: I don't know about his feelings on birth control (thankfully). I just hope someone takes a little pity on his out-of-work ass and finally passes him the damn potato salad!

David Roth: I'm sad whenever knuckleballers retire, because I know they'll just be replaced by some strapping Texan brodeo clown named Colt or Hunter or Puncher who throws 96 and has a goatee and anger-management issues. But Wake was the one knuckleballer I never really dug watching that much. He always seemed miserable out there.

David Raposa: I can't recall any knuckleballer ever exhibiting any sort of palpable joie de vivre. I always envisioned knucklers as Robert Johnson figures, except the crossroads were on some Florida route near a KFC that sold liver and gizzards, and The Devil was some former Connie Mack batboy who threw the shineball. The Niekros came out of the womb Instagrammed. Charlie Hough was 45 when he entered the league.

David Roth: In my mind, Hough looks exactly like Ross Perot. That's not hugely inaccurate, right?

David Raposa: I'd like to think Perot could've won in 1996 if he had better off-speed stuff.

David Roth: That said, R.A. Dickey is boss. He reads contemporary fiction and seems like a good person and climbed an important mountain with Kevin Slowey, which is more than I've done in my miserable life. Tom Candiotti was so patently un-great that he was great. We would have no idea how to process Billy Bob Thornton if it were not for Tom Candiotti making level the way.

David Raposa: Can't agree with you on the Candy Man. Candiotti was a beat-down used car salesman pushing Tru-Coat on every pitch, full stop. That stylish Donruss card up there features the look of a man dealing with a untucked tall-boy drinker that "fucking knows the fucking Blue Book value" of his wood-bumpered '75 Nova.

David Roth: "Sir, look, we are both—not to be presumptuous—but we didn't just fall off the back of a turnip truck, okay? So what can I do to get you into this Aerostar with mild-to-moderate rust issues today."

David Raposa: And since you're about to ask, Charlie Zink was on the Lancaster Barnstormers as of 2/18/11.

David Roth: I was pulling for that dude. He has a very poignant Baseball Reference page. Zink's last season at Pawtucket: 47 strikeouts, 93 walks, 135.1 innings. Oh and he went to the Savannah College of Art and Design.

David Raposa: That's the school where you have to draw the turtle and pirate parrot to get in, right?

David Roth: It's actually a really good one of those schools. The moment he quits baseball he will have much better job prospects as a graphic designer than either of us have as the baseball sarcasosphere's Statler and Waldorf.

David Raposa: And speaking of dudes no longer with us (in an active MLB-type fashion): I am appalled that Mike Cameron's BBRef page isn't sponsored!

David Roth: Really? I can fix that.

David Raposa: "Mike Cameron gave good face for the Mets" - David Roth "For Teacher."

David Roth: I will miss Killa Cam. One of my favorite Mets forever, and favorite players in general. He seemed like a positive guy, played his ass off, and was nice to Kazuo Matsui.

David Raposa: Dude was perpetually undervalued as an offensive player because of his low average, but still made with the extra base hits. And folks outside of Red Sox Nation should be happy he scammed Boston out of $15 million his final two years.

David Roth: Cam was big enough with the Mets that he had an impersonator. A dude would go into pharmacies in Long Island and claim to be Mike Cameron and try to get Vicodin without a prescription or something. It worked, I guess, slightly better than you'd expect.

David Raposa: That's the one thing about PEDs that no one bothers to mention: how's a regular guy supposed to pretend he's a professional athlete when the pros are so yoked? Though I guess the Cameron incident makes the answer to that question, "Rent a white limo and go for it."

David Roth: What was Cam's PED suspension? He seemed like more of a cognac and Jolly Ranchers dude to me.

David Raposa: He was dinged 25 games after the 2007 season for testing a second time for a banned stimulant. He must've eaten one too many sriracha-flavored bull testes at Joe Rogan's place.

David Roth: Oh, Cam. I guess he can at least know that he could get rocked for way more serious drug issues and STILL get a gig with the A's. I don't know if Manny breaks camp with them, but I do like the idea of him wrapping things up in the comparative anonymity of Oakland. The Piazza Method exit.

David Raposa: At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if Billy Beane's been calling every possible power source, just in case. "Harmon, I know you passed away recently, but I think you'd be a great fit for our team. You can play short, right?"

David Roth: I think Oakland's a good place to slowly fade from the picture. If I had to spend one year doing something fairly poorly for a still huge amount of money in relative privacy, I would do it in the Bay Area for sure.

David Raposa: And all Manny has to do is clown some down-roster lefties, leave his jersey untucked, and maybe forget to tag up or touch first base on a double, and he'll more than justify the A's investment.

David Roth: He has, even in his dotage, never forgotten to do those things. I think it'll work.

David Raposa: Dare we dream that Manny takes the field? Should we send him a Buster Keaton box set, just in case?

David Roth: Oh man, in that outfield? It'd be like Into The Wild. Just a childlike but determined man heading unprepared into a harsh wilderness, doing his best. Then dying of hunger.

David Raposa: I like the idea of the A's 2012 video yearbook being narrated by Werner Herzog.

David Roth: "The outfield platoon's natural state is of chaos and murder. There is no harmony."

David Raposa: "Covelli Crisp is a lithe tiger trapped in a jungle filled with crying children and hot dog wrappers."

David Roth: "It's not that I hate [the surprisingly well-compensated bullpen]. I love it. I love it very much. But I love it against my better judgment."

David Raposa: "The entropy of existence is exemplified by the unending futility of Kurt Suzuki." God, what would Werner Herzog's Moneyball have been like? Klaus Kinski spearing Jeremy Giambi and eating him in front of a nonplussed Art Howe?

David Roth: It would have been MAJESTIC. Certainly Bruno S.'s reimagining of Scott Hatteberg as a schizophrenic manchild lost in a terrifying and cynical world would provide a contrast with Chris Pratt's work in the role.

David Raposa: Here's where I wish I knew more Herzog besides the Fitzcarraldo doc and Rescue Dawn. Though I guess managing the A's roster is like dragging that riverboat, although instead of killing local natives, you pay extra for Eric Chavez's arbitration years and wait for him to stop pulling his groin.

David Roth: It might surprise you to know that having seen and written papers about, say, Aguirre: The Wrath of God does not necessarily translate all that well into jokes about drafting Joe Blanton.

David Raposa: Also, while we're on this topic, did you hear that I-Rod wants back in? Who do you think will give him the burn so he can get the 156 hits he needs for 3000? And how's he going to look in the five years it'll take to get there?

David Roth: He'll look the same. He'll look the same because he gets laser electrolysis on his eyebrows and then berates the technician for being imprecise.

David Raposa: "Fuck, he singed me?"

David Roth: Still, Alex Cora is worse. Also going to spring training, that guy. So much hope. So many invitations going out. I got my Spring Training invitation in the mail from the Padres the other day, and it was lovely. Brown and orange, some very tasteful contrasting tissue paper, a nice ribbon.

David Raposa: Congrats! You going to travel with Toby Keith, or just hitch a ride in Pascual Perez's junk?

David Roth: It's kind of a formal affair, seems like. "Please join us in Surprise, Arizona on FEBRUARY THE TWENTY-SECOND, TWO THOUSAND AND TWELVE, for the beginning of the YONDER GEOFFREY ALONSO and HUSTON YURIEORKIS STREET Administrations." I think I need to rent a tux.

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