Sunday, March 7, 2010

The mission


For those of us who take our sports entirely too seriously, the modes of grief are almost never constructive. It’s a cliché now, and so we dismiss it as hyperbole, but think about how his fellow cave-dwellers might’ve reacted when the first knuckle-dragging sports nut of all time (call him the ur-fan) shook his head, sniffled, cursed the pagan gods and — thinking back on his favorite team’s heartbreaking loss in last night’s game of some unnamed contest that probably looked a lot like modern rugby — grunted something along the lines of How can they do this to me? I live and die with these guys. Taken literally, the second half of that phrase represents a pretty grave threat.

But maybe that’s a bad example, too hypothetical, colored too heavily by a certain series of car-insurance ads that used to be funny but quickly (to invoke another cliché) jumped the shark. So how’s this: One of my very earliest, foggiest memories is of my dad, in what must have been 1988, after what must have been yet another Orioles loss, clicking off the TV and making that disgusted teeth-and-tongue pteh sound and proceeding to throw an empty beer can at the set. (To be perfectly honest I don’t remember whether it was beer or Diet Coke or, you know, Tab, but it’s a better story if I say it was beer.) Possibly this was one of the 21 straight losses with which the O’s had started their monumentally, almost gloriously awful season; possibly it was Loss 21 itself; I can’t rightly say. The point is that this is what losing, lots of losing, can do to an otherwise well-adjusted fan: It can make him act like an out-of-control, wife-beating drunk — even if it is only Tab he’s drinking.


It’s with all this in mind that I decided I’d try a little experiment: what I’m calling the Orioles-Fan Punishment Plan. Rather than sulk with each fresh Orioles loss — rather than sigh and crack another beer every time Miguel Tejada grounds into a double play or pick a fight with the loudmouth Red Sox supporter in front of me at Camden Yards who’s got the gall to boo our relievers for throwing over to first — rather than abuse myself on account of what’s destined to be a .500-or-below team, I’m going to ... um, abuse myself on account of that team. But in a good way.

To wit:

Over the course of the 2010 season, each time any of five negative in-game events occurs, I will perform one set’s worth of a rotating series of exercises. The negative events are:

Pitching events: Baltimore pitcher issues base on balls/hits batsman; concedes extra base hit.

Hitting events: Baltimore batter grounds into double play; strikes out.

Fielding events: Baltimore defender commits error.

The exercises are:

Pushups (20 reps = one set)

Core circuit: Sit-ups (40 reps), recumbent leg lifts (12 reps), recumbent pedal-twists (20 reps)

Plank (hold for 40 seconds)

Swinging shoulder press (10 lbs; 10 reps)

Dumbbell standing press (20 lbs; 10 reps)

Dumbbell lunge (20 lbs; 10 reps per leg)

Dumbbell rotation (20 lbs; 8 reps per side)

Bicep curl (20 lbs; 10 reps per arm)

Forearm curl (20 lbs; 30 reps per arm)

Single-arm dumbbell swing (20 lbs; 10 per arm)

If it seems like I’ve kept the weights and number of reps low, remember that (a) these guys play every night and (b) I’m kind of a pussy. Also, I own no more than a pair of 10- and a pair of 20-pound dumbbells and don’t plan on expanding that collection — and besides, the idea is to keep the exercises reasonably low-impact so as to be able to perform them over and over and over, such as the Orioles’ suckage this season may be.

If you still think I’m going easy on myself, there’s also The Biggie: Following every O’s loss in 2010, I will walk to work, weather permitting.

This is a 4.5-mile walk, per Google Maps, and that’s assuming the route is actually passable by foot — doubtful, given the paucity of sidewalks and/or shoulders on the relevant stretches of Columbia Pike and Washington Boulevard. I’ve never, ever walked to work before, so this should be interesting.


Anyway, that’s the idea behind this blog: to chronicle my efforts at channeling what’s ordinarily a negative experience (watching the Orioles) into positive results (a kickass body), and to subject you, Dear Reader, to all the musings, be they brilliant insights or half-formed, half-retarded brain droppings, that chance to drift across my transom.

Next up: A word on my health going into this — with pictures. Be ye fairly warned, womenfolk.


  1. haha awesome idea, mikelaws. tho behavioral psychology says that by the end of this you'll hate the orioles. good luck!

  2. How about a commiseration summer? Join the team in self-destruction. Every time there is one of the aforementioned sucky events, have yourself a KFC double-down, washed down with a Sam Adams seasonal. That way, you can record the Orioles' season in a consistent manner.
    That's what I'm going to do.