Thursday, I appeared during a segment on MLB Network's Clubhouse Confidential, hosted by Brian Kenny.
Two things about Brian Kenny. One, he's fantastic at his job. Two, many years ago he became the first person who seriously entertained the idea of putting me on TV. I did a bunch of ESPNews spots when he was hosting The Hot List -- even though I was terrible when I started and got only marginally better over the years -- but that sort of petered out after Brian returned to SportsCenter. I did more spots, but they weren't nearly as much fun for me and without the hosts' enthusiasm, nobody in Bristol was really pushing to have me on any of their shows.
So my TV "career" ended, I thought. Which was slightly discouraging, but I felt lucky to have been given a chance at all. And didn't think I'd ever get another.
Except a few months ago, Brian Kenny left ESPN for MLB Network, got his own show, and gave me another shot.*
* And not just me. To Brian's GREAT credit, his guest analysts have included Joe Sheehan, Jay Jaffe, Dave Cameron, Sean Forman, Vince Gennaro, and I'm sure a few other of my compatriots.
I digress. I just wanted to establish that Brian Kenny is one of my favorite people, and why.
Thursday's segment was largely about Yu Darvish, but then Brian threw me a curveball: Would you rather spend your money on Darvish, or Prince Fielder?
Which is a tricky question. Because, as I said to Brian, both players are incredibly difficult to project over six (or more) years.
Darvish is (obviously) a young pitcher who's not thrown a single inning of Major League Baseball. What's more, there aren't anything like enough comparable pitchers for meaningful comparisons (granted, I gave it a shot).
Meanwhile, Prince Fielder ... I described Fielder as (approximately) "unique in the history of baseball", to which Brian responded (approximately), "How so?"
Rob: "Have you seen him?"
Brian: "Sure I've seen him. But what do you mean?"
Rob: "He's short and he's fat!"
See, that's the sort of incisive analysis that Baseball Tonight missed out on for all those years.
Anyway, as soon as the word fat escaped my big mouth, I regretted it. Sure, I'm taller than Fielder and he's got more than a hundred pounds on me. But who am, to be calling anyone fat? On national television, no less.
Prince Fielder, if you're reading this ... I am sorry. Honestly. I have nothing but respect for your accomplishments, and I know you can't help being relatively short with a tendency to carry the avoirdupois.
For the rest of you, though, my point was this: There's never been another player like Prince Fielder.
He's listed at 5'11" and 275 pounds. You know he's not taller than 5'11" -- if a player's listed at 5'11" he's either 5'11" or an inch or two shorter -- and 275 ... well, I suppose it's possible. Again, it's not likely that Fielder weighs less than 275 pounds; if he did, his listed weight would be revised because nobody (except football players) wants to be 275.
Would you care to guess how many major-league players have stood less than six feet tall and weighed at least 275 pounds?
One: Prince Semien Fielder.
How many major-league players have stood less than six feet tall and weighed (or rather, been listed at) more than 250 pounds?
Five. Fielder, plus pitcher Bartolo Colon, Garland Buckeye, Rich "El Guapo" Garces, and first baseman Tommy Everidge, who got into 24 games with the A's in 2009.
The pitchers don't tell us anything about Fielder's future, nor does Everidge.
My personal opinion is that Prince Fielder's height and Prince Fielder's weight go a long way toward explaining why he's still a free agent. I suspect that Scott Boras's lovely encyclopedia of Prince Fielder trivia is loaded with numbers that make Fielder look like a future Hall of Famer, both durable and powerful. But I suspect the numbers 5'11" and 275 don't appear anywhere in the encyclopedia, and that absence is glaring to its front-office readers.
If you're a general manager, don't you have to be wondering how much Prince Fielder really weighs? And how much he'll weigh in 2017? And if there's a limit to how much a 5'11" player can weigh, and still play 150 games at first base every season?
When you spend upwards of $120 million, you want to have some sort of historical guide. And ideally something not issued by the Boras Publishing House.