Amy Sancetta/Associated Press
When you’re burning down the interstate en route to the next town, hoping to grab some zzz’s before that doubleheader against the Iron Pigs, Stone Crabs or Lugnuts, you can’t afford to waste two hours grazing the farmhands at a sit-down restaurant.
Time is always of the essence in pro ball, and managers don’t want to dilly-dally. Get something to eat, and then get back on the bus.
So when your minor league prison bus pulls into a gas station, you’ve got about 20 minutes to get something to eat, take a wee-wee and get back on board. Most of the time the bus is going to pull into a major travel stop. This kind of place has more options than your run-of-the-mill gas station, but we’re certainly not talking five-star cuisine by any stretch. In fact, most of the edible options you’ll find at a place selling food alongside diesel fuel will have the same half-life as weapons-grade plutonium.
Here are some tips on what you should and shouldn’t eat.
First, establish a few ground rules. Will it make you crap your pants? If so, don’t eat it. Will it make you fart a lot? If so, consider how much you like your teammates before eating. Will it make you hyper? Nauseous? Suicidal? Zombified? These are the things you have to take into consideration before getting back on that bus.
Remember that fat kids don’t make it very far in this game. The ratio of David Wellses to Roy Halladays is skewed toward the thin side of the bell curve. That said, yes, health is important, but if you’re eating at a gas station, forget the sanctimonious organic lifestyle. It’s not going to happen.
You might find a few Naked Juices or a banana or a V8, but the pickings are slim. Besides, if you do find something organic, it’s probably marked up compared to the non-organic equivalent. Your minor league meal money only goes so far, and you’ll probably have several hours before you’ll eat again. Choose wisely.
A smart player forages in the middle-class health food choices—like low-fat this, low-sugar that—then adds in a goody for desert. Goody foods could be any rationed item of pleasure eating. Some may scoff at the addition of a yum-yum, but believe me, in a game as psychologically draining as minor league baseball, a man needs a treat now and again.
Remember, anything that isn’t good for you but makes you feel better about yourself is soul food. Now interpret that information with the fat-kid paragraph above, and you have an equation that looks like this:
A single frozen soul food: Good
A 24-pack of fermented soul foods: Bad
Some sure winners are things like nuts, jerkies, health bars and drinks. Some misleading items are things like milk and fruit and anything on a rotisserie. While also a good protein source, milk coats your mouth and makes your breath taste like death. You’re almost always committed to buying another drink if you get milk or at least some gum. Fruits should be eaten before you get on the bus, because then you don’t have to figure out where to put the peels and cores.
And finally, I shouldn’t have to tell you that meat bought on a rotisserie at a gas station has probably been there as long as you’ve been playing.