As someone preparing to watch the World Series from the comfort of an easy chair, beer in hand, I find myself asking the question ”How do major league umpires manage to stay in such lousy shape all season long?”
The answer is, it isn’t easy. “You don’t get a body like this overnight,” says “Cowboy” Joe West, the most senior active umpire in the big leagues. “It takes years of abuse and neglect.”
West: No performance-enhancing drugs were used to develop the dreaded chin scrotum.
West’s in-season routine consists of a day of strength conditioning followed by a day of aerobic exercise. “I tear the tops off ten small bags of potato chips followed by 12-ounce curls of lager beer bottles,” says. “And I don’t mean light beer,” he adds. “If you want to develop an explosive style for the called-strike punch-out, you must use regular beer.”
Oriole sandwich, hold the mayo.
On his aerobic exercise day, West warms up with twenty-meter dashes from his car into a local McDonald’s franchise for an Egg McMuffin, followed by jump sprints from his living room couch to his kitchen to fetch pork rinds and more beer. “You’ve got to keep drinking, ” he says. “You need to stay hydrated.”
West and Brian Gorman, umpire’s locker room, Fenway Park
The very nature of an umpire’s job makes it difficult to stay out of good shape. “You’re out there in the fresh air and the sunshine every day getting exercise,” says AL ump Brian Gorman. “Sometimes after a game I have to force myself to go back to the all-you-can-eat buffet for thirds or fourths–it takes discipline.”
Young ump wannabes will soon be able to gain weight the Blue Crew way with a home exercise DVD approved by Major League Baseball. “Stay Out of Shape the Major League Umpire Way” is a forty-five minute workout video that features some of the game’s greats putting a group of overweight boys through their paces to Pachelbel’s “Canon,” the slow-as-molasses classical piece made popular by the movie “Kramer vs. Kramer.”
Kramer vs. Kramer: “Daddy, please make the music stop.”
“It teaches the kids to slow down,” says MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. “It’s very helpful for the delayed ‘out’ call at first base.”
Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “This Just In–From Gerbil Sports Network.”