C.C. is OK in N.Y.
Baseball as always had a weird mindset in regards to a players’ weight. Certain players have been known to be able to gain tons of weight, and nothing has ever been said to them. A Designated Hitter could put on a few pounds of non muscle and people will value it as extra “hitting weight” or even leverage. It would be regarded as a upgrade in the power behind the bat at the plate, not as a designated seat at the suspect Chinese All-U-Can Eat buffet down the street. When it comes to weight, the power guys are the ones who can get away with it. But why can’t a pitcher?
If you are in a skilled position in the infield, it could be the kiss of death for you to gain a huge amount of weight. It would be viewed by these same people as a lack of focus and commitment to the team concept.That maybe your self control is anissue and you do not have the will power to push yourself away from the plate. If a second baseman should come in 15 pounds heavier, it better be in his arms and chest region, and not near the waist. For the skilled positions between the lines need to have their deer-like reflexes and players are expected to be jumping, leaping and scraping the clay to get to balls. Anything else would be a disaster.
So why is it that the odd call is coming from the media to bashing and badgering the fact that C C Sabathia is a big man. Granted, at 6 foot 9 inches he will have to have some weight to just survive. But since he is about to hit the scales at a easy 300 pounds, do you think the Yankees might consider him for a Jenny Craig model, or even institute a eating program to help him maintain his weight in the 24/7 city like New York. Is this subject even coming up because of the amount of the pitcher’s contract, and New Yorkers are questioning something they all know can kill them, much less a pitcher on the stadium mound. Can the hounds of braodway really be so concerned with Sabathia’s figure even before he officially reports to Spring, or are they looking for a svior for the city to all lose weight?
But why is weight being thrown out so early in the guy’s New York tenure. It is not like he came into the first Press Conference at 220 pounds and he was seen at Serendipity III scarfing down a $ 1,000 dollars worth of fudge sundaes. He has not even hit a scale, or even thrown a pitch, and the city is obsessing about a fact of life for him since he was a child. He is big and he always has been big, and he is proud of it all. But why now are people condemning or even questioning a wide girth in the Big Apple, it is not like he is the first big guy to hit the field for the Yankees. Just because you have a few extra pounds on your bones doesn’t mean you will be open to injury or even performance problems with the size. Or is there a stigma to weight and the pitching performance in pinstripes. I always thought stripes made you look thinner and taller?
Come on people, Mickey Lolich, Rick Reuschel,Sid Fernandez and old Yankee “big boy” himself, David Wells, all carried a few extra pounds and performed pretty well for themselves and their teams. None of these guys would ever be considered role models for the obesity challenge for our youth today, but they are defintely performance role models in the way they played the game and competed in this league day in and day out on the diamond.
If you want to add another large guy to the fire, how about Fernando Valenzuela. You have a list above that did pretty well in the annuals of baseball. You have a heavyweight group that produced 17 All-Star pitching selections, a perfect game, a no-hitter, and a few top 5 votes for the Cy Young award. But then you might also forget about a guy who was dominating as a big guy pitcher early in his career. A pitcher who had a 2.28 ERA before deciding that his bat had more power than his arm. Consider what Babe Ruth could have done if he stayed on the mound instead of want to hit every day. If he had continued to play both positions, would there be any debate as to if he was the best player to ever play baseball?
So why is it that a 28-year old pitcher, just maturing in his career, getting the ” what if..” treatment lately. Is it just the fact that he just signed a monster contract that might even dwarf the post-game meal table in the Yankees’clubhouse, or is it a precursor to how he is going to be treated in the Bronx. Is this just a sample of the treatment he will get if he goes even .500 this season, or misses time due to injury? C C Sabathia is coming to the Yankees with a pretty solid set of career numbers for a guy his age. He entered the majors for the first time in 2001, and since that time he has accumulated statistics to put him in the top 10 in innings pitched, strikeouts and wins since his first professional pitch. But as Janet Jackson once sang, “What have you done for me lately?”.
So why is it that the media is now putting up a high weight issue so far into the off season. Can they at least wait until the pitchers’ and catchers’ report to Tampa, Florida for the Yankees before throwing out a cautionary yellow flag. Who is to say that Sabathia is not at home right now in California doing some crunches or even a few miles on a treadmill getting into shape to impress the Yankees faithful. He has been called a fitness fanatic when it comes to training, or is the media just taking that as word speak and not even trusting anything right now.
Who are these media guys who run for the Press Box buffet area and drink free sodas and coffee until it comes out their eyes. Seriously here people, can we give the guy the next 55 or so days to relax before you throw him under the microscope for the next 7 odd years. And with that in mind, do we expect him to go 11-2 with the Yankees, with a 1.65 ERA just as he did when he left Cleveland Indians for the Milwaukee Brewers in the middle of 2008. Will there be a lynchmob mentality if he even stmbles out of the gate and has a few bad outings. Will the media start to bring up names like Carl Pavano, or even Mike Hampton if a simple injury hits him early in the contract.
People forget it takes a bit of watching tapes and even facing a guy until you can get his timing and see his mannerisms on the mound. That might be one of the reasons he dominated so early in the National League. They are not used to a power pitcher like him barreling the ball in there. For years, the National League has been the finesse league, where a breaking ball pitcher can reign supreme. Most of the hitters’ in the American League still have scouting reports and even huge amounts of tape on Sabathia. We forgetr that he has only been out of the AL for a short period of time. Hitters have faced the big man before, and know what to expect out of his left arm. So why is it that people are questioning this guy because of his girth without even throwing a pitch in 2009. He has done great since 2001, think about that, that is almost 8 years up in the show, and they still treat him like a unknown at times.
Are they really expecting this guy to go into the New York summer without being in great shape. Come on people, this guy is a professional athlete, and if he struggles because of conditioning, are we going to blame him, of course you will. Or is the Yankees strength and conditioning coach going to get a royal smack down for not keeping tabs on his players. Could we have a sweat-gate conspiracy because of a little heat fatigue. Do you really think this guy doesn’t already know what it is like to pitch in the 98 degree heat in New York or Boston. Seriously folks, he did pitch in it last season against the New York Mets, and he is still not a blob of sweating jelly on the mound. Give the guy some credit, he has been here before.
But then you also get the self-fitness sportswriters’ who themselves have not lost a pound since their 20’s, who think that a slimmed down Sabathia would be a huge upgrade for the Yankees in 2009. So what you are telling me sports gurus is that weight can be a factor for injury considerations? You mean that you are willing to state your reputations and jobs on correlating size with injury? Really now, and where are you going to dig up this information. Will you devise a secret, totally unknown source in the fitness world who will swear a slimmed down Sabathia will prevail in pinstripes.
Do you forget that it is not just your size, but the extreme measures of lean body mass, training, conditioning, power, endurance and above all strength that can be the cornerstones of a great fitness program. Just because you might have a spare tire around your waist doesn’t mean you can’t run a mile, or even dunk the ball through the hoop, people do that every day in their respective leagues. Former NBA star Charles Barkley comes to mind real fast here. Don’t you think that mass might just be a part of the puzzle, but not the sum of all the parts here. So you are telling me that a well trained athlete, even if he is a pitcher of wide girth, can not control his mass and properly coordinate his muscles to maximum effort. I thought that was what off season conditioning was all about for baseball players. But for you to even suggest a slim down, or even a change in body proportions, it comes with some warnings.
Who are we to even question Sabathia’s off season training yet. He had probably been doing the same routine for years and he has done just fine so far. Or is it because he is about to hit the major microscope center of the free world that it is even being questioned now? And even if the team and Sabathia wanted to maybe drop about 30 pounds, could that effect his performance, or enhance it.
If you go by a past big guys results, you might want to even rethink having Sabathis even look at a Slim Fast shake. If you remember, Fernando Valenzuela was pressured while with the Los Angeles Dodgers to lose a few pounds because his waistline seemed to be growing. Valenzuela lsot the weight and could not seem to get anyone out at the plate.
It is said that sometimes losing weight after you have systematically gotten your body used to throwing within a certain mass can effect the pitching sytle, and might even ruin your old natural throwing style. So would you want your newest millionaire pitcher to lose 30 pounds, then become another batting practice dummy up there throwing gopher balls to the masses. I am not aying that will happen to Sabathia, but the situation is totally not out of context.
By losing weight, a pitcher can lose vital mental spots in their delivery. You might not have the same follow through to the plate, or might seem to be rushing your pitches when in fact it is the same delivery you have done for years. So is it an advantage to be a slimmer pitcher after you have had a paunch in your middle? The answer is no. Now that is not to mean that a gradual slim down could not benefit you, but then you have to adjust your mechanics to fit your new body or risk injury.
So when Sabathia hit the scales in Tampa in a few months and might show a few pounds off, should you worry. I do not think you need to worry, he will always be a big guy. And you got to remember, that he has gotten bigger since his debut in 2001, and he has made some pretty good adjustments in his game.
Even if he did lose 20 pounds, you have to be happy that he is taking this huge contract on with conditioning, power and endurance. So as we get close to the beginning of the 2009 season, are you really worried C C will not be able to take a huge bit out of the Big Apple?