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As Baseball's Spring Training Nears, So Do The 'Best Shape Of His Life' Cliches

We're growing closer to Spring Training, and as Dempsey's Army reminds us, we're going to need to steel ourselves for the return of a century-old sportswriting cliche: that players are in the best shape of their lives. Dempsey's Army, in fact, quotes one writer from 1896 who was already rolling his eyes at it.

Sometimes, it is true. It stands to reason that at some point in his life, a player will be in better shape than in any other point in his life. Unfortunately, it's thrown around so casually that it's practically a non-statement.

In the interest of avoiding cliche, friends, feel free to pepper in one of these less flattering Spring Training observations once in a while. And to keep from hurting feelings, let's use the Dodgers' James Loney as a neutral example. Nobody dislikes James Loney, right?

- When James Loney moves, he resembles the sight of a rat trying to find its way out of a pile of laundry.

- That is the shoddiest-looking coat rack I have ever seen. I imagine that if I were to hang my coat on it, it would simply slough right off the hook and fall to the ground, the buttons smacking against the parquet with a firm click-clack! Oh, wait, that is not a coat rack, it is James Loney. My statement stands, however.

- James Loney's swing looks like the last stroke of an exhausted Norseman just before he collapses from thirst and slumps over his oar, his soul floating to Valhalla but his boat drifting slowly to the Saxon shore.

- I would say that James Loney is in the worst shape of his life, but parallelograms are not objectively "bad." Nothing is objectively "bad."

- James Loney could not get to the bag quickly enough, and so North American drifted from Pangaea.

- James Loney perpetually has the look of a man who just realized he is whacking, throwing, and catching something that used to be a part of a cow that would have known its mother and father, had it not lived its entire brief existence shackled in a cage. I think he's actually frowning, which is weird, because nobody ever actually frowns.

- When James Loney is forced out on a double play, the umpire ought to declare that he's a lap behind and direct him to run all the way around the basepaths before calling him out.

- If James Loney is ever on a box of Wheaties, I will assume that it is a government initiative to dissuade young people from eating cereal.