Last weekend, I ran across a tweet that seemed curious.
Just so everybody who asked why I was in a bar last night knows I’m going to the cage to hit #sliders at 1230 so you guys think I’m committed
Whatever nagging of Beckham for having a social life in the off-season that prompted such a response would seem silly enough on principle, but Gordon makes a particularly odd target. Sure, his offensive implosion was of the many holes in the White Sox sinking ocean liner of a season, but the process of his demise always seemed overtly effort-laden.
Earnest displays of perspiration can often mitigate otherwise easily earned fan hatred. Hell, it almost even saved Juan Pierre.
Beckham’s on field mannerisms, the erosion of his once-revered plate discipline, and his comments on his mental state during his ’10 slump all made him easy to categorize as “pressing”.
Now, that’s coupled with more alarming news
Proper nutrition becomes a somewhat surprising concern for Beckham. He entered Spring Training at 205 pounds, but he fell below 185 in his final September weigh-in. Part of Beckham’s weight loss was stress-related, as White Sox director of conditioning Allen Thomas explained.
Beckham: “Part of the reason I lost that weight was because of my performance. When I don’t hit well and don’t do that kind of stuff, I don’t eat. I have no appetite. It was one of those things, I don’t know, bad year all the way around, on the field, off the field. But I think getting up and having a routine will help me keep weight on.”
“He’s an everyday guy. He’s coming to play. He’s leaving things out on the field,” Thomas said. “He trains his butt off every day, his strength was there. So when your strength is still there and you’re losing size, then you know it’s going to be stress related or he’s not eating enough.”
I thought Jim Margalus’ reaction did just fine: “Man. Man, man, man.”
I don’t have any actual intentions of dictating to anyone how to react to or feel about baseball players besides “Don’t commit crimes and/or egregiously break the social contract”, but it’s a somewhat rare case–and partially a result of increased exposure of players to the scrutiny of the public–to witness a player so clearly wear the strain of trying to live up to their standards and expectations.
It wouldn’t be fitting to say, “I’m pulling for him” since that’s been true from before he started giving amusing rebuttals to Joe Cowley, to when his aesthetically pleasing swing emerged in 2009. Still, I might crave success for Beckham just a little bit more, because seeing him go without is getting painful.