Why is Everybody at the Gym so Awful?

I know nobody at my gym, and yet they’re essentially the only people I know.

That’s what happens when you write from home and have no social life. I’m really only around people when uncomfortably lifting small weights for a short period of time, hoping nobody else is there because a cramped gym is hell.

Since my warped mind tells me I don’t belong anywhere, I have never truly felt like one of them. That’s 90 percent irrational inhibitions, and 10 percent expecting everyone to behave like functional members of society while sweating bullets in hopes of one day achieving a semblance of self-worth. (I’m mostly not like them because I have no self-worth).

Because schools oddly gloss over teaching Gym Etiquette during the 12 minutes of gym not devoted to changing, taking attendance, stretching and changing again, the same infractions occur far too often. Apologies for labeling each type of culprit as “Guy” in the subheads, but “Person” felt too chunky.

Also, if I’m being honest, it’s almost always a guy. Like, every single time almost.

Guy Who Doesn’t Re-rack Weights in Proper Spot

Picking up 70-pound dumbbells is hard. Matching the “70” numeral on each weight with the accompanying “70” label with a vacated spot for said dumbbells, on the other hand, is simple.

And yet people will constantly take the path of least resistance and place them wherever, oblivious to the rippling chaos caused by such callousness. Dropping them down in the 30 slot saves two steps for the violator, but causes a confounding dilemma for someone else. Does the person with those 30-pounders—look, it’s about form, not lifting the most weight possible… Shut up—cave to this lawless society and return those weights to the 70 position? Or is it worth rearranging the entire stand at the risk of others acting like you are the weirdo for preferring order?

Kids are taught matching games for a reason. It’s not for this reason, but still. Come on.


Guy Who Talks/Texts/Plays on Phone

If I made a gym, my first and only rule would be “No phones.”

OK, so that’s ridiculous. Nobody would frequent this gym, as many use their mobile devices for music or simply need to know the time or be reachable for their family. Also, there should probably be some more rules. Wipe down all equipment. Something about wearing sneakers (I almost made Guy Who Does Exercise Barefoot a Section, but maybe there’s some actual benefit to that I’m too lazy to research or ask anyone about.)

Anyways, Rule No. 1 of this gym that doesn’t stand a chance of attracting any customers is No Phones. This way nobody will waste 10 minutes texting on a bench others want to actually use. Or worse, forcing you to eavesdrop on one end of a loud conversation.

Is it really that hard to cut off all social and professional ties for an hour to give everyone else a slightly more pleasant gym experience?


Guy Who Takes Machine Right Next to You

Urinal rules also apply to a bench or cardio machine. Create the most distance possible from peers. If it’s at all avoidable, never go right next to someone else.

Maybe this does not matter for normal people. This might be a Curb Your Enthusiasm subplot I’m forgetting where nobody besides Larry David knew or cared about this unwritten law.

Fine. I will still wear this rant with a badge of honor in hopes of creating real, tangible change to society.

[Also, note to self: No matter what, don’t take the treadmill on the far left of the last row with the missing pad to control the TV stuck on Fox News. You’re here to burn calories, not crosses and Tiki torches.]


Guy Who Sings to Music from Headphones

Wearing headphones is an unalienable right of the gym-goer that even I would not dare to infringe upon. And that’s despite the fact that I probably couldn’t even name three songs released in the past four years.

Singing along to lyrics these magical devices have so wonderfully tucked away into your earbuds? Now that’s a deal-breaker.

This isn’t that car karaoke thing that apparently passes as comedy even though it’s literally just people singing in a car. (Get it? The joke is that… they’re songs? Wait no, maybe it’s just that celebrities are riding in poor-people cars like normal folk? Yeah, I don’t know.) This is a public setting with other people. They can hear you. You know they can hear you, right?

Also, the genre does not matter. This applies for rap, rock or [Insert relevant 2017 pop artist here]. Double also, not to go full Old Man Yells at Cloud, but that insufferable racket is too loud if I can hear it. Listening to earbuds at that volume will damage your hearing, pal.


Guy Who Takes Machine Right Next to You and Keeps Yelling ‘Woo’ During His Workout

I had gone 26 years without making a mortal enemy. At that rate, I’d assume I never would.

That all changed one rainy Tuesday night. Actually, it may have been a Monday. Or a Friday. Come to think of it, I might have went in the morning or early afternoon, and I don’t recall the weather.

But I remember the pertinent details. I went on a treadmill—or was it an elliptical?—at a time where every other cardio machine was vacant. That’s three rows with a well-rounded blend of equipment, so the guy who picked the treadmill—or stair-climber? In all seriousness, I’m 90 percent sure it was a treadmill—definitely had other options.

I tried to subside any uneasiness by reminding myself that we’d both block each other out from the world with headphones. Maybe he has a special attachment to that particular machine and gravitates to it instinctively. This theory has legs after seeing him at the same spot another day, but I contend that he still must adapt to the circumstances.

Sucks, but it was not the end of the world. Until he randomly yelled “Woo.” Moments later, another “Woo” followed. And then another. I glanced over to see he was not wearing a ‘Nature Boy” robe. I can say with 99.9 percent confidence that he’s not even related to Ric Flair.

And yet his wooing persisted. Take note of the two “o’s.” They were all short, impactful woos. Never an extended “Woooooooo.” I guess that would have been worse, but maybe some variance wouldn’t have hurt.

From that point forward, this man became by arch nemesis. He doesn’t know it, mostly because the only time we have spoken is when I held the door for him when going opposite directions in and out of the gym and he gave a seemingly sincere, “Thanks, bud.” I don’t even know his name. Does he receive Woo privileges if he happens to be a different Ric Flair?

I would say I’ve found my Joker. Yet if we ever encountered one another again, he would drive me to madness and precipitate my villain origin story. Unless we were near a door. Then I’d probably just hold it open again.


Guy Who Writes Article Judging Everyone Else to Mask His Own Insecurities

This guy is truly the worst of them all. I mean, can it get any more annoying than whining about other people’s imperfections just to avoid your own? Anyone who silently stews and derides everyone else’s actions probably has deeper problems than sometimes unintentionally causing a minor inconvenience in a public space.

These people with huge biceps and washboard abs must have no existence beyond the gym. He said to himself at the gym because he’s too much of an unmotivated weakling to optimize the same hobby and work as hard as them.

And of course, this loser would not politely address any of those concerns like a normal human. He has a better chance of doing an actual pull-up—to be clear, he has very little chance of doing an actual pull-up because he’s an uncoordinated dweeb—than talking to a stranger. He’ll just moan in a blog post nobody will ever read.

What an asshole.

Remember When The New York Mets Wouldn’t Play Michael Conforto?

Imagine if Chris Pratt’s role on Parks and Recreation never evolved beyond “Ann Perkins’ loser boyfriend.”

Before saving the planet and fighting dinosaurs, the future Hollywood A-lister introduced the world to his boyish charm as Burt Macklin, Johnny Karate and Andy Dwyer. But before regularly stealing scenes, the Mouse Rat headman was kind of a dick.

In the show’s forgettable first season, Pratt scratched himself in the background to build sympathy for Leslie Knope’s future best friend and beautiful tropical fish. Quickly realizing it had a future MVP playing a minor part, Parks and Rec promoted him to featured billing. It’s jarring to picture a world where he doesn’t sing a recap of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Sudden Death to a group of children.

The New York Mets have their Chris Pratt in Michael Conforto. They wouldn’t play him, however, until Knope, Perkins, Ron Swanson, Tom Haverford and Perd Hapley all went on the disabled list.

Remember when the Mets wanted no part of starting Conforto? Let’s hope so; it was only two months ago. In an offense riddled with veteran hitters—many of whom will enter free agency this winter—they were not willing to make room for a talented 24-year-old already as good, if not better than all-or-nothing slugger Jay Bruce.

Yes, he struggled last year, sullying a torrid start to hit .220/.310/.414. Despite traveling back and forth from Triple-A Las Vegas, he finished with a 96 weighted runs created plus (wRC+), a slightly-below average mark graded on a 100 baseline which should not have incited such impatience. Oh, by the way, he introduced himself with a .270/.335/.506 slash line in 2015, and that doesn’t take into account his two-home run game in the World Series.

Whereas Dwyer is allergic to jerks, the Mets are allergic to common sense. They nearly sent Conforto to Triple-A to start 2017. Instead—likely only because of injuries to Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo forced their hand—they included him on the Opening Day roster with designs of filling a bench role.

Since this season is essentially a remake of “Homer at the Bat”—congratulations to Homer Simpson for his long overdue Hall of Fame induction, but where’s Mr. Burns’ credit for astutely playing the percentages?—they soon had no choice but to start a future cornerstone with Lagares, Nimmo, Lucas Duda and Yoenis Cespedes all hurt. Now he’s hitting .326/.423/.674 with 13 home runs and a 182 wRC+, which ranks sixth among all qualified batters.

His 48.0 hard-hit percentage also ranks sixth, and good things tend to happen when a batter makes sharp contact.

Courtesy of FanGraphs

An esteemed group of pull-happy hitters share the leaderboard, but Conforto has sprayed hits all across the diamond. In addition to squaring 47 percent of his batted balls to center, the left-handed slugger has smacked one-quarter of them the opposite way.

As illustrated by MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, he has belted a majority of his long balls over the left-field fence:

And he’s even hitting lefties, albeit in a minuscule sample size. Having rarely received an opportunity to hone his craft against same-handed pitchers, Conforto is currently 7-for-21 with three walks and three home runs against southpaws. That’s already more hits than he collected against them (five) in 53 plate appearances last season. Perhaps he merely means more reps to improve against southpaws.

It seems laughable for the Mets to have refused the services of a healthy, promising player. This may feel like revisionist history, but hordes of fans and writers—this one included—yelled for the Mets to play Conforto before he went bonkers. While neither likely anticipated such a hot start from Bruce, who has cooled down in May, The Ringer’s Zach Kram and Amazin’ Avenue’s Lucas Vlahos also campaigned for the young outfielder to play regularly.

His fan club has  Per Mets Citi, Alex Rodriguez may lead the now-crowded Michael Conforto Fan Club meetings:

Now let’s pump the brakes, because Conforto isn’t the Mets’ savior. He’s not a .220 hitter, but he also won’t sustain a .326 average with a 25.6 strikeout percentage and 11.8 swinging-strike rate. Although he’s making sharp contact, the .379 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is due to drop.

As will his 32.5 home run-fly ball percentage (HR/FB %), a mark topped by three other hitters, including fellow young New York outfielder sensation Aaron Judge. With a tame average home run distance of 399 feet, per Baseball Savant, nobody should view this hulking power as the new norm.

And that’s OK. Conforto isn’t Judge—who, as many Twitters users have joked, is the living embodiment of a video-game Create-A-Player with all the physical attributes maxed out. The 6’1″, 215-pound Conforto is more of a gap hitter who can regularly hit 25-30 dingers rather than 40.

Sitting Conforto for the first week likely won’t matter for a team rapidly sinking from playoff contention. Their buffoonery, however, is not without consequence, as the early MVP candidate is not even on MLB’s All-Star Game ballot. Fans can instead select Andre Ethier, who has not played a single game this season. (They can also vote for Conforto as a write-in option.)

Oh well, Parks and Rec never won an Emmy during its incredible seven-year run. By now, Mets fans all know that Conforto is 5,000 candles in the wind.

Note: All advanced stats courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.