A group that included Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber, Paul Goldschmidt, Giancarlo Stanton and more than 30 other big leaguers had quietly been working together – from a safe distance. They formed a secret baseball group while playing at Palm Beach Gardens High School.
There were no known cases of the virus among players at Cressey’s gyms.
I absolutely love this shit. How did some of the best players in baseball stay in shape during quarantine? They formed an underground baseball fight club where they faced off against each other everyday. That sounds so fucking cool to me. Imagine walking by this school and seeing a bunch of grown adults working out and playing baseball on the far away field? You probably would think it was odd, but you'd never put two and two together and think it was some of the best group of talent the baseball world has to offer. Max Scherzer and Verlander throwing bullpens next to each other. I don't want to paste too much of the Athletic article in here to respect their paywall, but there's a part about Verlander asking Logan Morrison for feedback on his slider. This is porn for me.
Live ABs with Giancarlo Stanton against Corey Kluber. The best of the best helping each other get better by going at it. We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars of contracts on the field when they didn't need to be because they just wanted to play baseball and work. I could see Scherzer screaming at the batters about balls and strikes. Just being an absolute lunatic while everyone else is taking it a bit easier. Nope. Didn't matter if he was on a high school mound, if you have a bat and are threatening to get a hit off him he wants you to die.
So how did all of these guys stay safe? Well it was all run by Eric Cressey. Who is Cressey? He became famous for his sports performance gyms on the East Coast that would train hundreds of pro athletes. He was recently hired by the Yankees to overhaul their entire training and strength/conditioning departments. His name is as respected as it gets in the baseball world.
In order to be as safe as possible the players distanced themselves as best they could. None of these players were dismissing the virus, they were just trying to get some legit work in while the owners and players association had their dick measuring contest.
The health and safety part was hard. We had to have really small groups, use all 10,000 square feet of the facility. There were rules for safety, including no sliding and distancing as much as possible. But it was no boring spring showdown. There were pitching battles, several home runs and plenty of good-natured trash talking. The group went through 56 balls in that first game, giving Cressey a crash-course on baseball expenses.
I just am obsessed at how under wraps this was. Trevor Bauer had his own watered down version of a sand lot game out in Arizona, but this one in Florida felt a lot different. The way they described it sounds so similar to that secret Team USA scrimmage in 1992 that they showed a little bit during the Jordan documentary. They refer to that as the greatest game of basketball ever played.
It’s the greatest live BPs and All-Star Game none of us will ever see. The one where a small group of wives attended and those who worked on the field adjacent to Cressey’s stayed to gawk. Groups under 50 outside in Florida were permitted, and there’s no question how fast the shiny aluminum would have disappeared from the bleacher seats if someone had leaked word to the public.
I'm just picturing Kate Upton and all the wives pulling up lawn chairs with umbrellas to shade them from the sun and getting hammered on wine while they started a book club on the side. Maybe I'm just relating too much with how the moms for my little league games would get, but allow me to use my imagination thank you very much. I'd kill to see behind the scenes footage of this. We do have this quick video from Cressey but it doesn't show much detail.
My one question. So Giancarlo Stanton participated in this whole thing right? Is that why we're not sure if he can be ready to go in the OF for Opening Day? Did he do something during these games and workouts that re-aggravated something? It seems like the only logical reason. Goddamit.