It's time again for the annual seasonal right that tells us all winter's icy grip is losing its strength: spring training. Pitchers and catchers have reported to their various sunny corners of Florida and Arizona and position players are trickling in every day, all with the purpose of ramping up a a year-long training regimen that makes them the world-best ballplayers they are.
Just the way it should be and has always been.
Oh, except for when they were all fat slobs who floated in on a river of booze and a cloud of cigarette smoke to sweat off their winter layers of blubber and chase skirt til they were close to in-shape enough to last a season.
And I think I know the secret to those glory days - a diet rich in fat, grease, salt, pork and donuts -- and this is the recipe guide.
For the most part, Major Leaguers these days maintain a level of fitness that stretches from the final pitch of September to the first of February to help keep healthy in a grueling season -- not to mention their annual quest for millions of dollars in Yankee contracts. But back in the good ol' days, they came into camp looking like a busload of Bobby Jenks.
So now, thanks to a food blog that's taking the Interwebs by storm, you channel the Golden Age of Baseball while still working your way to the fat slob state of Zen that Americans excel in achieving. Named This is Why You're Fat (Where dreams become heart attacks), it's a blog that has earned a spilling of digital ink everywhere from Time to The New York Times and for good reason.
It revels in the debauchery of the worst types of the best of American food: cheeseburgers with Dunkin Donuts as buns, turkey breasts stuffed with a dozen other birds and even a bacon explosion Wellington. All of which would kill people from most countries instantly, but only provide glancing blows to our collective national protective layers of fat right up til the moment we keel over into our extra large graves.
And that's just the way any ballplayer worth his salt in the days when baseball meant something would want it. Don't believe me?
The worst season of Babe Ruth's career was in 1925 with the Yankees when he could "only" muster a .290 average with 25 home runs for a delightfully second-division Bombers squad. The problem? He was binging on pretty much anything he could, including food, drink and women -- speculation had him needing stomach surgery to repair damage from a combination of overeating, tainted prohibition-era booze and venereal disease. Nobody really knows why he went under the knife that year, but he was known to eat as many as 10 hot dogs in a pre-game training table assault that had generations of pigs quaking in their natural casings for decades.
Yet he had a "sub-par" season any player today would kill for at contract time and did it as near-death glutton.
So, when little Johnny and Janey come up wanted to have a catch so they can make their lifelong trek to baseball glory, encourage their enthusiasm -- wear out your arm playing catch, hit the cages and buy the sadly out-of-print Fred McGriff/Tom Emanski videos. Then jump right in the car and head to Hot Doug's for a foie gras hot dog and fries cooked in duck fat. It's the spring training dinner of champions.