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Myth makers

Improved fitness tops 10 biggest spring training lies

Posted: Tuesday February 26, 2008 12:06PM; Updated: Tuesday February 26, 2008 1:44PM
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Javy Lopez
Even though he's entering his 14th season in the big leagues, Javy Lopez says he's in the best shape of his life.
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Joba Chamberlain is only 22 years old and has thrown just 24 innings in his major league career. Javy Lopez is 37 and has caught 1,351 major league games. What might these two players possibly have in common, considering the tremendous gap in age and workload? Both of them are in the best shape of their lives. Don't believe it? Just ask them, not to mention just about every other player in any camp this season who gladly helps a desperate beat writer knock another non-news day off the spring training calendar.

Chamberlain "believes he is in the best shape of his life," (MLB.com, Feb. 22), which would seem to be a given for a professional athlete who is just 22. "At 37, Lopez is in the best shape of his life," (Atlanta Journal Constitution, Feb. 5), which sounds ridiculous for a guy who has caught so many innings and makes you wonder what happened to his shape the past two seasons, especially during a veritably lifeless cameo in Boston.

All over Florida and Arizona guys are patting themselves on the back for coming into camp not just in shape, and not just in top shape, but the "best shape of my life" -- as opposed to what, somebody else's life?

The BSOML Club includes Mets prospect Eddie Kunz (who "is in what he called the best shape of his life" -- New York Times, Feb. 22), Dodgers catcher Russ Martin (On BSOML status: "Yep, no question" -- The Canadian Press, Feb. 17), Mets pitcher Duaner Sanchez ("Now I'm in the best shape of my life" -- MLB.com, Feb. 13), Padres outfielder Paul McAnulty ("I'm in the best shape of my life" -- San Diego Union-Tribune, Feb. 15), Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz ("I've tried all winter to improve myself, to get in the best shape of my life" -- Dallas Morning News, Feb. 21), White Sox outfielder Brian Anderson ("I'm in the best shape of my life" -- MLB.com, Jan. 24), Rangers pitcher Kevin Millwood ("I think I'm in the best shape of my life" -- Associated Press, Feb. 18) and Nationals pitchers Chad Cordero (who "said he is in the best shape of his life" -- MLB.com, Feb. 15) and Ray King ("King arrived in camp in the best shape of his life" -- MLB.com, Feb. 13).

Millwood's BSOML, by the way, lasted mere days. He tweaked a hammy in camp before the games even started.

Enough already. Let's prohibit any more BSOML references, as soon as we first abolish: "It is what it is." You are professional athletes. One basic requirement of your job is to be in shape, OK? That's especially expected from those of you in your 20s, which should be your physical peak. So if your previous weight-lifting training involved hoisting In-N-Out burgers (King), we're not giving you props for staying out of the drive-thru this winter.

And unless you're on the Sylvester Stallone body-by-syringe workout program, I have a hard time believing that a ballplayer in his late 30s is in better shape than he was in his early 20s.

I know. It's spring training. Guys get giddy when they get away from home after a long, cold winter and into spring training mode with the boys. Ryan Dempster said the Cubs will win the World Series. Melvin Mora said he's going to knock in 200 runs. Hey, nobody ever said a 25 SPF protects your brain. But this BSOML stuff has gone so out of control over the past few years that it must be stopped before the next member of the BSOML Club is Don Zimmer.

Yes, it's that time of year. Too many stories to write and no games of any meaning to cover. It's part of Campspeak, the eternally optimistic language of spring training. BSOML is at the top of the list, but it's only one of many Campspeak untruths that get passed off as news.

Here are the rest of the top 10 spring training lies this year:

2. "I'm sorry if I caused a distraction for my team and my teammates."

Translation: "I don't regret at all sticking steroid-laden syringes in my butt all those years. I set my family up for life and helped my team win a few games. What I'm sorry about is I got caught. Everybody was doing it. And if you think my team might be distracted now, just wait until it gets a look at all my flyballs that die on the warning track."

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