Buzzsaw Sports Guy: A Satirical look at sports
The Northern American Health Group unveiled research last week demonstrating that Major League ballplayers usually consume enough food and caloric beverages to make them gain more calories than they burn during an average game. NAHG stated that this was a surprise find, and that they by no means set out to point out the minimal physical effort baseball players need to put forth to start and complete games.
The study found that Major League players spend most of their games sitting, standing, spitting and adjusting their cups, none of which constitute what the NAHG classifies as “strenuous activity” that would burn calories at a higher rate. The study found that far smaller amounts of game time were spent doing more active things, such as walking, jogging lightly and running. During the 2010 regular season, NAHG found that starting position players spent an average 34 seconds of game time sprinting. Sports data analysts found that MLB games lasted an average 2 hours and 52 minutes in 2009.
“I feel the need to clarify that figure though because it can be misleading,” NAHG president John Grogan said. “That number, 34 seconds, may seem small and believable, but it is actually higher than the overall average. It doesn’t take into account the starting pitchers who are sitting on the bench because it’s not their day of the rotation. It also doesn’t include the relievers, most of whom just sit out there all game, maybe throw a few pitches, but that’s it. Plus, there’s all the reserve players who ride the bench and never get to do anything.”
But even sitting still, on average, burns a bit over 100 calories per hour. So to be gaining calories, that means ballplayers are constantly replenishing their systems with some form of nourishment. The NAHG study effectively analyzed the burning and consumption of calories by the players, finding that most of them eat and drink enough to come out on the plus side.
“During any normal game, Major League players have plenty of time to consume, and they take full advantage of that opportunity,” Grogan said. “A lot of them chew sugary gum, drink Gatorade or eat sunflower seeds, all of which have a higher calorie content than most people realize. As a result, baseball players are able to sustain their energy throughout the course of the game, unlike other sports, in which the participant would need to have previously ingested energy and have it ready to burn at the start of the activity.”
In the study’s conclusion, NAHG cited the increasing length of baseball games as a possible reason for players wanting to eat more. For example, they observed several relievers eating high-cal meal replacement bars during games, seemingly more out of boredom than anything else. They also admitted the data was skewed due to the presence of Prince Fielder and CC Sabathia, both of whom discretely eat full meals between innings, sometimes two or three times per game.
Most of the professional baseball world was not especially surprised or excited by the NHG’s findings.
“As long as it’s not about steroids, I’m relieved and don’t care enough to comment,” MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said over the phone.
ESPN anchor and former Phillies first baseman John Kruk, however, embraced the study’s frankness about the real physical effort required to play a game of baseball.
“Yeah, that sounds about right,” he said of the study. “I spent years of my life catching flack for not treating my body like an athlete would despite being an MLB player. Turns out I burn more calories sitting on my ass not eating while I anchor for Baseball Tonight than I ever did when I actually played baseball. Who’s laughing now?”