Why do you need to know about eating at a gas station? Because you’ll be eating there a lot. I mean, A LOT.
When you’re a manager burning down the interstate in route to the next town, hoping to grab some ZZZ’s before that double header against the Iron Pigs, or Stone Crabs, or Lug Nuts, 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 dillydally. If it wasn’t for refueling, he probably wouldn’t have gave the bus driver the OK to stop at all. Now that he has, I can guarantee you what the FDA says passes for food is the last of his concerns.
So, when your minor league prison bus does pull 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, the kind of place a trucker looking for love would go to meet other truckers. This kind of place has more options than your average, run of the mill, gas station, but we’re certainly not talking five star cuisines by any stretch. In fact, most of the edible options you’ll find at a place selling food along side 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.
I understand that if you’re playing well, you can, and should, eat whatever you want because good performance in the minors is as much about keeping your dietary Zen as anything else. Wade Boggs had fried chicken, you could eat Klondike bars, who the hell knows? The bottom line is, don’t mess with success, even if it means pounds. That being said, most fat kids don’t make it very far in this game. The ratio of David Wells’s to Roy Halladays is skewed toward the thin side of the bell curve. Take that into account when you create the backstory to why you’re playing so good. Was it ice cream you ate at 2 am in the morning before sitting on your butt for 8 hours, or your peak physical condition? In the world of competitive sports, being part of the Bad Body Bullpen might come back to bite you in your quickly developing fat ass the next time the strength coach fills out his work ethic report.
Health is important, but, if you’re eating at a gas station, forget the sanctimonious organic life style. 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, thus making the overall dollar VS craving payout that much smaller. Remember, your meal money only goes so far, and you 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, or 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 your 0-24 slump 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. Almonds may have larger fat totals, but their good fats, unlike the crap that cheese dip in the plastic blister is made out of (what kind of cheese doesn’t need refrigerating for months at a time?) Name brand Jerky is usually a good source of protein, low fat, and it makes you feel full. A protein bar looks good and depending on the brand can taste good too. Extra drinks are always smart, especially if you get a lot of salty goods, and bottles always come in handy for the person who *chews. However too many extra beverages could mean extra trips to the bathroom, which means extra climbing over sleeping players to get there.
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 peals and cores. And, finally, I shouldn’t have to tell you that meat bought on a rotisserie has probably been their as long as you’ve been playing. I don’t care what Travis Snider says, these meats DO clash.
*Just kidding, kids! No one in pro baseball chews or dips, and you shouldn’t either! Also, only you can prevent forest fires.