It's one of the dirty rites of spring. An unsuspecting ballplayer is photographed in less than flattering clothing that makes him look a bit puffy. Said photograph then zooms around the Internet and is discussed, dissected and derided by people who likely get winded just by breathlessly talking about it.
It's all very ludicrous, of course, but the lucky winner of this year's "is he fat?" derby was Atlanta Braves star Chipper Jones, who had this misleading picture to the right snapped of him on Sunday in the team's spring training camp. An Atlanta TV station raised a few eyebrows and asked if Chipper had been packing on the pounds, as did bloggers, tweeters and even a few of Chipper's teammates.
We never got into the act here at Big League Stew because 1) if that's fat, I'm Jabba the Hut and 2) other pictures taken on the same day show that wind was responsible for the semi-unflattering look around his midsection.
But with Jones acknowledging the talk on Thursday — and even having a little bit of fun with it, despite experiencing an "epic sunburn" — it seems like we should note his reaction.
"Thing is, I'm seven pounds lighter than I've ever been in camp, and now I'm fat," Jones said. "I weigh 226, 227. Usually I'm 235."
That didn't stop Brian McCann and other Braves from razzing him after Jones returned Thursday from two days of fishing. He hadn't heard about the photo until he got back.
"(McCann is) so happy now," Jones said, "because [at Turner Field] every time that little kid from 'Sandlot' comes on [the video board] before we start the game — 'play ball!' — I say 'Hey, Mac!' That little chubby kid."
Jones will turn 40 years old on April 24, so it shouldn't be surprising that he's not able to model a gray sleeveless t-shirt — which are rarely flattering to anyone — like he's LaRon Landry.
But take a look at this picture of Chipper that was snapped one day later.
We should all look so terrible at age 39.
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