Could we please have a different background for every Major Leaguer photoshoot?
Christian Yelich is excitement distilled into human form. The reigning NL MVP Award winner is a combination of everything you'd want in an athlete: Speed, power, defense, with a penchant for coming up in the biggest moments when his team needs him the most.
He's also a laid-back guy from southern California, with a bright smile and beautiful head of hair and, like most pro athletes, an amazing physique. Which is why it makes so much sense that ESPN picked him to be in its upcoming Body Issue.
What doesn't make sense is why they took this funny, personable, exciting guy and had him pose in an industrial warehouse:
ESPN “reveals” Christian Yelich’s body issue pics. pic.twitter.com/qHqQW9x1hI— Matt Hietpas (@MattyHip) August 27, 2019
This is an OSHA violation waiting to happen. Did ESPN kidnap Yelich? Why would anyone want to stand nude alongside industrial supplies that are, apparently, about to catch fire? Why would the fun-loving beach dreamboat choose to sit nude on the floor of what appears to be an abandoned building?
And why is it so drab -- so relentlessly gray, as if sunlight had been outlawed?
This isn't a new thing, either. When it's time to photograph male athletes, the world has decided that there is no room for joy, or comfort, or hell, even color.
Alex Rodriguez famously posed for a series of photos in which he kissed himself in the mirror. While you may remember that particularly strange moment, you may have forgotten that the shoot also featured a mattress on the floor of what appeared to be a filthy basement.
Why take the world's most beautiful men and put them in places that look unsanitary at best, and dangerous at worst?
Here are some pictures of Alex Rodriguez looking at himself in the mirror pic.twitter.com/NP1zQjqslF— Thomas Evans (@ThomasBEvans) July 31, 2013
Is this what being masculine is -- slumming it in an endless series of Eli Roth sets? Javier Baez is nicknamed "El Mago" -- "The Magician," inspired by all the unbelievable things he can do on the field -- but even he was placed inside an empty warehouse.
Curse-breaker. World Series champion. Cover star.@Cubs second baseman @javy23baez kicks off ESPN the Magazine's 2017 Body Issue. pic.twitter.com/m9y8vRRjZp— ESPN (@espn) June 20, 2017
When not being put inside various places that kids would dare each other to enter, players are getting photographed in an eternal void. Prince Fielder was trapped in perpetual nude purgatory. Giancarlo Stanton can apparently only be enjoyed in the throes of deep space.
Giancarlo Stanton in one of ESPN's The Body Issue. pic.twitter.com/yYqYhg4qgs— JERICK (@jrkvsl_) July 10, 2013
That's not to say that these are bad photos, or that they weren't artfully done. It's just that they're all the same: tough, gritty, a million miles away from fun.
When, in reality, the players we see on the field are endless founts of emotion: screaming in joy when winning a game in the bottom of the ninth, doubling over laughing with an old friend and creating ever-stranger pranks with their teammates in the dugout. When their photo shoots reflect that, you get things like a don't-you-even-try-to-contain-his-happiness Yasiel Puig pictured nude and screaming from behind the cover of a popcorn container:
After 4 years I finally decided to do these amazing and incredible pictures with @espnmag I hope everyone enjoyed them as much as I did. Thank you @espnmag I had a blast! #2018 #magazine #espn #body 👍🏼🤭😬🙌🏽👊🏾👅🏋🏽♂️👌🏻 pic.twitter.com/cGWo8vDIpN— Yasiel Puig (@YasielPuig) June 25, 2018