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Josh Donaldson’s Dead Sexy Virtual Skills Camp

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In which a nice man says cool things about baseball and I poke what’s hopefully gentle fun at how much better-looking he is than me.

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays
stretch those glutes
Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Recently, Matt clued us in to a “virtual skills camp” being coached by new Twins player Josh Donaldson. Our respected/feared siterunner was able to score free promotional access to the thing, which for paying customers cost all of $10 (with a portion of sales benefiting Covid-19 relief organizations).

$10 is insanely cheap. By comparison, a three-day skills camp coached by Billy Ripken is on sale for a cool $995. Or, more accurately, was on sale at that dollar; it’s sold out. And fully scheduled to happen, not via virtual interaction, in July. In Myrtle Beach, SC, a resort town for people who want Vegas-sized crowds right now and find eroding shoreline appealing.

So I checked out this thing, having neither glove, ball, nor bat, unless you count a promotional mini-bat which I keep handy because we had some probably-wasted weirdo make overnight footprints in the snow outside our kitchen window last January. I couldn’t punch anybody in the face, but I could probably whack their knuckles with a stick and scream “what the (bleep) is your problem” quite loudly. Do not underestimate the power of a good yell; I’ve used it before, it works.

Accordingly, here’s my brief middle-aged reactions to watching Josh Donaldson’s virtual skills camp. While sitting completely on my butt and not moving one muscle.

5:00 — opening screen says “post your best Josh Donaldson swings to Tik Tok.” I am definitely too old for this. All I know from Tik Tok are cooking “hacks” which are inevitably quite wrong.

5:08 — Jeepers Jist, Donaldson is built. He looks like friggin’ Thor, and is mad nipping out his T-shirt. Now, modeling stretching exercises, he’s on his back doing pelvic thrusts. My coronavirus belly paunch screams with hatred of this man. Mrs. James saw five seconds and went out for “groceries,” which might be a euphemism for “divorce lawyer, you schlub.”

5:12 — He’s demonstrating glove work with a handball, as it will bounce back to him without anybody fetching it. The dude can position his off hand fast enough to leather a handball. I thought tennis balls were too fast to master, and they’re handballs with anti-aerodynamic fur.

5:40 — the “second inning,” for a tutorial that’s supposed to last an hour. We won’t be getting through nine. This part’s about baserunning, and how it’s possible to score on a sac fly to second if the fielder is unbalanced while lunging for a running catch. I thought this was only possible in videogames.

5:50 — Donaldson’ favorite player, growing up, was Ron Gant! No love for Hrbek, it would seem.

5:51 — On swing mechanics: “I’m not a big believer in hands.”

5:54 — “If my barrel gets stiff... I like to have a nice c**k... barrel popping up... at the end of my load.” Video interviewer: “Josh, you’re all by yourself.” Too bad he doesn’t believe in hands.

6:12 (after the “third inning”) — Donaldson winds up by saying “what matters is what you have in here,” indicating his heart, “for female players too, I don’t want to leave them out.” Quite correctly so: I’ve seen my fair share of X-rays, and to my knowledge there aren’t any internal organ differences between men and women anywhere above womb level.

Bottom line: this was a very interesting tutorial, that I think would be of more benefit to advanced players than kids at the T-ball level. (Although low-impact stretching exercises are good for anyone of any age.) The information on infield glove work was especially detailed: Donaldson apparently thinks about how to minimize the risk of an off-target throw as he’s making it, which is a level of body mechanics I can’t even fathom.

A broadcast commentator cliche is calling something a a “heads-up play.” Donaldson’s description of how he plays baseball sounds like he’s paying extreme attention all of the time. Should he wish to do so, he would make a brilliant base coach. Or silent-movie porn narrator, it’ll be up to him.