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Ballplayers training with mixed martial arts

Apr 13, 2011, 9:13 AM EDT

Jon Jones, Mauricio Rua AP

It’s all fun and games until someone takes their training out to the mound with them for a post-beanball donnybrook!

Mixed martial arts may be illegal as a competitive sport in some states, but several baseball players are incorporating its fighting methods into their training routines.

Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox, Brad Penny of the Detroit Tigers and Russell Martin of the Yankees have used the sport’s punches and kicks to improve their throwing and swinging. In addition to improving overall fitness, Martin said, mixed martial arts can make an athlete mentally tougher.

I never know what to think of these kinds of stories. I mean, I have zero doubt that this kind of training is beneficial because it sounds like hardcore stuff. MMA guys are certainly in good shape and anything that helps with strength, balance, flexibility and mental toughness has to be a good thing.

At the same time, I can’t help but smile at this, fully aware of the long and rich history of taking popular cultural phenomenons and turning them into workouts. As God is my witness I remember seeing a record/book set — this predated the era in which most people had VCRs — called “Disco your way to Health” or something very close to it. I’m sure there was a roller boogie followup. Not to say that MMA is so ephemeral as disco and roller boogie — it’s pretty established at this point — but there is something about all of this that makes me wonder how much money is being made off of this kind of thing, if not for the ballplayers, than at least for the common schlub in suburban gyms around the USA.

(thanks to Hannah for the heads up)

Not that the exercise industry is the worst offender. When it comes to exploiting the cultural zeitgeist for a quick buck, nothing beats the world of business book publishing.  Seriously: if you can’t find a book that fits the pattern of “[latest trendy pursuit] Lessons for the Businessman” on the shelf down at the Barnes and Noble, you can assured that it either just went out of print or it’s currently being written.

But now we’re into another rant, so let us end this post by thinking about Adam Dunn in an MMA match.

  1. heffmessina - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:29 AM

    I don’t think Dunn’s lack of athleticism, bad defense and propensity to swing and miss would work out well in MMA.

    • BC - Apr 13, 2011 at 11:20 AM

      Dunn is the size of a refrigerator. I wouldn’t want any part of him in an MMA ring. Just ask that catcher he mowed last year without leaving his feet (I’m sure that’s on Youtube somewhere).

  2. psousa1 - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:29 AM

    Did Brad Penny take up MMA training to help him avoid the all the lasers hit back up the middle against him?

  3. heyblueyoustink - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:30 AM

    Maybe this is what Johnny Cueto had in mind? This could also lead to a new way of ensuring the all-star game doesn’t end in a tie….

    • Jonny 5 - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:12 AM

      No sir, Cueto was clearly emulating the flying bicycle kick of Liu Kang. It’s a tough one to nail down actually

      • heyblueyoustink - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:44 AM

        Sir, you get a thumbs up and “Finish Him” for the Mortal Kombat reference

        You also get my word of the day: Macktivism…..enjoy!

  4. sportsdrenched - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:32 AM

    I’m still convinced Barnes & Noble is passing fad. No way I’m paying $20 for a book I can get at the library for free.

    I don’t want to say I’m an expert of the fitness industry. But having lost quite a bit of weight I’m aware of a lot of it’s scams.

    MMA Training is pretty tough stuff. Your normal guy at the suburban gym is NOT doing it. They’re doing P90X. I’ve alway wanted to try MMA Training…but that there is that whole time and resources thing.

    Of course, you could just Youtube it.

  5. heffmessina - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:45 AM

    Isn’t this just another way to get “in the best shape of your life”? I remember hearing this in spring training and thinking whatever. I could see how it worked for Clay Matthews in football but for baseball?

  6. phukyouk - Apr 13, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    i would have paid you $$$ to find the Farnsworth flipping Youk on his head pic.

    • bigharold - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:17 AM

      Don’t you mean Rick Porcello of the Tiger’s? Which is actually worse because if you look at Porcello he barely looks old enough to play MLB. I’ll bet he gets asked regularly “does your Mom know you gave up the paper route?” Farnsworth has proven repeatedly that he can and will handle his “business”.

  7. halladaysbicepts - Apr 13, 2011 at 10:43 AM

    The beached whale of a pitcher known as Joe Blanton could use some MMA training to shed the load that is making his pitching ineffective. Actually, come to think of it, after last night’s performance, most Phillies fans would like to take Mr. Blanton into the ring and teach him some MMA of their own.

  8. cur68 - Apr 13, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    I can see the MMA thing. I teaches you to read another person’s intentions. Most people telegraph their next move and fight training can help you pick that up real quick. That’d be handy for a catcher, I bet. Of course you can get the experience from soccer but that won’t get you the chicks like saying “I train Muy Thai”. I tell people I train “Kobe Tai”. No one gets it.

    • bigdicktater - Apr 13, 2011 at 8:11 PM

      You must have some awesome calluses.

      • cur68 - Apr 13, 2011 at 11:03 PM

        biggie; +1 for comprehension

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