Off Base
Dodgers to Miss Out on Postseason Girth

September 10, 2010, 7:50 p.m. Taking Steve Dilbeck's blog Friday a step further, Jonathan Broxton's weight is representative of a more pressing (pun intended) problem, both with the Dodgers and baseball as a whole.

And for those who skim rather than read, Dilbeck is not suggesting that Broxton's ineffectiveness is necessarily related to his being overweight, and neither am I. Not necessarily.

But the Dodgers have had issues with weighty players in recent years, and as they've done to some degree with substance abuse cases, and to a greater degree with their inability to diagnose injuries, there's this unhealthy combination of a head-in-the-sand attitude slash "he said he was fine" slash "we really don't know when he'll be back" routine going on that needs to looked at.

Often with professional and collegiate sports, and the Dodgers are guilty of this at times, organizations do what they can to get or keep their guys on the field of play, and if an individual can help them, or they think he can, other issues are pushed to the side.

During the Joe Torre/Stan Conte era, there have an inordinate number of mystery cases, with guys either being out longer than anticipated, or the club simply being stumped as to what's going on with them. Consider a few examples: Tony Abreu, Ronald Belisario, Scott Elbert, Rafael Furcal, Manny Ramirez, Jason Schmidt and Cory Wade. I'm confident I've left a man or two out here.

We might just need another list for players either being brought back too soon (Andre Ethier), or pushed too hard in the face of obvious evidence not to do so (Hong-Chi Kuo, Russell Martin). More will be revealed, or at least, it might be. Can't you just see Ethier admitting in October to being plagued by finger pain all year long, when all he had to do was sit out part of or all of June, instead of coming back in late-May?

The list of 2010 Dodgers with easily-visible weight issues, who've also struggled with health and/or ineffectiveness includes Belisario (add substance abuse and the Dodgers semi-cluelessness about that too), Ronnie Belliard, obviously Broxton, and George Sherrill.

Go back a couple years and add Brad Penny and Andruw Jones. In all cases, we're talking fatness for no apparent reason, with injuries and bad baseball.

Take a close look at Carlos Silva – or let's be honest here, you can see him from afar just as well – and tell me that's not a heart attack waiting to happen. Big surprise that the Cubs had to disable him with an irregular heartbeat in August.

It's almost as if the coming up of a good nickname for a fat baseball player is easier than getting the guy to actually eat and exercise like a professional. Pablo Sandoval, aka "the Panda," has created a crater for himself to climb out of before he can go on with the rest of his career. It's anyone's guess as to whether the Giants will help him do so, let alone insist upon it.

And bleeping Dmitri Young is known as "Da Meat Hook," for crying out loud.

Prince Fielder has another set of problems. Heavy to begin with, and to be kind, he's never been the most agile of first baseman, Fielder has seen his production fall off recently as well. Scott Boras can talk about "Mark Teixeira money" for his client all he likes. It's not going to happen. The Brewers and Boras ought to help the young man slim down already.

With the possible exception of sumo wrestlers, athletes really should never be fat. And baseball players should never, ever, ever be fat. If they're successful at the sport, it's in spite of their great weight, not because of it. It's just common sense we're talking about here.

The clubs have all the resources in the world, with the best of know-how and training capabilities, and ought to be more concerned about the heaviness of their charges than they're showing to be these days.

When baseball finally got around to dealing with its performance-enhancing drug problem a few years ago, the motivation was more about the cheating than the physical well being of the players. While I was concerned about the cheating too, I never stopped harping on the "this is your brain on drugs" thing. Not for a minute.

I'd like to see Major League Baseball make an effort here. Maybe a little "this is your heart on fat" campaign. Or something.

I absolutely agree with Torre's assessment that Broxton's troubles are between the ears, but it's not like the man's wasteland of a waist is helping any. Broxton admitted to being tired in 2009, so though he didn't say as much, his conditioning was a part of the equation. I mean, how could it not be?

More importantly, how can an employer like the Dodgers not get hold of what could turn into a very serious problem, independent of baseball? The only reason for Broxton not to be on an expertly-tailored program of diet and exercise, starting right now and culminating with a celebration of his extreme makeover come Spring Training is a lack of initiative by the participants.

I joked about the Dodgers requiring Ronnie Belliard to weigh in at some point in camp at 209 or else, and I'll repeat the sentiment here. Belliard was listed at 180, and the Dodgers were down with his being 209. Twenty-nine pounds overweight is one thing, sure, but 30, no. At 30 the Dodgers draw the line.

Look, I have no idea whether Jonathan Broxton can return to statistical form in 2011, with or without a proper physique. But I know without question he'd benefit in every conceivable way if there were less of him. The Dodgers need to help him get there…

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Media Savvy: Just fyi, Eric Collins announces his final game of the Dodgers 2010 television schedule Sunday in Houston…

On a Personal Note: I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling a little inspiration courtesy of John Lindsey, who worked 16 years to get an at bat in the major league. Sixteen years.

I've been writing this column for 11, and doing the tortured writer thing for longer than that (not to mention the six and a half years pitching the "Statue for Sandy" Koufax to the McCourts), and seeing the way Lindsey's handled himself, the perseverance, and the smile on his face, well, I don't know exactly how to finish the sentence. But I'm inspired.

So stay tuned to We might just be here another 11 years. And we will see Sandy's statue eventually. That much I can promise you…

Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Just 158 days until pitchers and catchers report. And remember, glove conquers all….


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