Prince Fielder: An unexpected inspiration

BY CLYDE HUGHES

What in the world was Prince Fielder thinking?

The Texas Rangers slugger has some audacity, posing naked for the ESPN the Magazine’s so-called “Body” issue. He’s not exactly the San Francisco 49ers’ Vernon Davis, who I lost a female friend over the first time she saw him in his football uniform. Heck, many would think Fielder would not be in the top 50 of Major League’s we’d want to see in the “Body.”

The first thing that came to mind was opening monologue to Sir Mix-A-Lot song “Baby Got Back.”

“I mean, her butt, is just so big. I can’t believe it’s just so round, it’s like, out there.”

It didn’t take long for such movie stars like Cuba Gooding Jr. to make fun of him on TMZ.com Wednesday.

Looks like two midgets in an arm wrestling contest with a bag of knuckles,” he said to celebrity website after laughing out loud at the photo.

But if people like Gooding would take a freaking breath and stop their self-righteous chuckling for just a second, they may realize the brilliance behind Fielder’s decision to pose for ESPN the Magazine. It’s brilliant because everyone will talk about it, everyone will have an opinion about it, and everyone will have to come to the conclusion that what he has done with his photos is make a statement about our view of the human body.

“You don’t have to look like an Under Armour mannequin to be an athlete,” Fielder told ESPN the Magazine about his decision to do the photo shoot. “I work out to make sure I can do my job to the best of my ability.”

No one can argue Fielder is a top Major League talent. The millions the Rangers are giving him to play baseball at the highest level in the planet is a testament to that. Covering the Detroit Tigers for the Toledo Blade back in the 1990s, I heard all the stories from other reporters about his batting practice exploits as a youngster while his father Cecil Fielder watched when I arrived at Tiger Stadium to cover games.

He is a person supremely confident in his ability as a baseball player. Why wouldn’t he feel the same way about his body – and in his own way make us feel the same in our road to become a healthier person. Fielder’s body is the talk of the magazine, and I say that’s a good thing – a great thing.

See Fielder’s cover comes at the perfect time for me. I am working on running a 5K race in a few weeks. I did a father-daughter 5K with my daughter Ashley a few years ago and while not in perfect shape then, I was better than I am today. I have yet to even come close to the time I ran that Thanksgiving in 2012 with my now law school-attending daughter and right now I would be happy just to break 40 minutes.

After a workout Tuesday, I was ready to give up and start to wonder why I’m even doing this, especially walking by a bathroom mirror, which pointed out all the faults and failures in my body over a lifetime of journalism where I sat down to make a living.

Fielder’s attitude is refreshing, bold and even brazen if I may say so.

Some of us, simply because of biology, will spend a lifetime trying to shed enough pounds and will never get that Shaun T six-pack look. I’ve long resigned myself to the fact that I’m one of those people. I hate welcoming the winter just so I can put on additional clothing to hide my body’s faults. I despise the feeling that I can never (ever, ever) take off my shirt at a beach.

Not so much today. As I continue to shed the weight slowly pound by pound, I feel more secure, more confident, even more “brazen” because Fielder decided to share to tell the world that you can look good with a little bit of weight, and used himself as an example.

Prince, you were an unexpected inspiration. Now, it’s time to go out for another run.