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Tuesday, April 29, 2008
The Sports Pile: Yankee candy ban

from The Carolinian Times

Joe Girardi recently banned candy and ice cream from the New York Yankees clubhouse. A lot of people-professional commentators and fans alike-are opposed to this ban. And I ask them: Why?What Girardi did is instill a small modicum of responsibility within a generally lax and loose clubhouse atmosphere.

Joe Torre, the current Dodgers' manager, apparently allowed these athletes, these professionals, to eat whatever they want. Soft serve ice cream machine? Sure. Domino's store in the clubhouse? Yup. All you can eat Chinese buffet next to the bat holders? Most def. Okay, none of those are actually real. However, they could be. Professional athletes get to be in the position that they are in because they either a) have incredible natural athletic talent or b) keep themselves in ridiculously great shape. Or some combination of the two and hard work.

But some athletes-and this is a much longer list than we would like to admit-do not try all that hard to keep themselves in shape.Take for instance, my good friend (again, not true) Andruw Jones. Druw was an Atlanta Brave his entire career before signing a two-year deal worth $36 million to play for the Dodgers this offseason. Recently, Druw weighed in at just a hair under 250 pounds. Both of those facts are absolutely ludicrous. There is zero reason someone should be given 18 million dollars to do anything; I am okay with that though.

But if you are going to get 18 very large, the very least you can do is keep yourself in decent shape. Jones weighed 170 pounds as a rookie and recently, right around 220, while playing for the Braves. That's a pretty freaking substantial weight gain during the course of the last year or so. Of course, this is something we often overlook if a player is performing to the standards that we are used to seeing out of him. Jones, is, ahem, not doing that. In fact, he's producing at the lowest level he has in years, which is especially disconcerting considering what a poor season he had in 2007.

Jones' manager is, ironically, Joe Torre, the man that Joe Girardi replaced in the New York Yankee clubhouse. Torre apparently has little care for what Andruw Jones actually puts into his body, in terms of food. Now, I do not necessarily think that whatever Andruw is eating at the ballpark is causing him to balloon up that quickly; obviously he has not been watching his weight too carefully at home either, otherwise he couldn't have porked up as quickly as he did.

But there's something to the notion of keeping the workplace clean and how it translates to keeping the house clean. And even if professional baseball players are highly trained and (usually) focused athletes, and even if they are grown men who know all about responsibility, that does not mean that they don't deserve a little accountability at the office. We are talking about the same group of men who, collectively, we just found were abusing steroids and performance enhancing drugs at a rapid and record pace, nearly culminating in the destruction of baseball.

And before you point out that the above statement is hyperbole, remember that if we (as in America) didn't love the sport so much, we might not have so easily ignored everything that happened on Capitol Hill. And while, no, junk food is not as bad performance enhancing drugs-not by a long shot-it's the same principle of accountability in the workplace. For so long, professional athletes, because they are millionaires who often control their own destiny, playing time and salaries, have had nearly zero personal accountability within the workplace.

Sure, they have teammates that check up on them and watch their back, and yeah, ownership and management is concerned about their behavior. But I think that Girardi's decision to ban candy and ice cream from the Yankees clubhouse speaks more to this lack of accountability then it does to simply not wanting to allow professional athletes access to a bunch of sweets and sugary treats. And maybe you think I'm really stretching it to make that connection, but just remember that the Dodgers and Yankees are two of the five heaviest (or fattest, as it were) teams in all of baseball.

When one of them wins a (recent) championship without purging the candy and the ice cream from their systems, then maybe I'll concede that I was wrong about the need to keep the clubhouse clean. Okay, probably not. But I am looking forward to the Yankees actually being in good enough shape to not fold to the Red Sox once October rolls around. Wait and see. Girardi and I are going to be right about that whole candy thing just yet.

by: Woodstock Candy


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