Starting pitcher, middle reliever, closer: A guide to baseball and gluttony

It seems you can have your baseball and eat it, too. (AP/Kathy Willens)

Baseball moments can define decades, even lives. As a Yankees fan, I remember sitting in my parents’ room — past my bed time — watching Jim Leyritz hit that home run in Atlanta. When moments like that happen, you just want to scream and hug someone, but sometimes there’s not a soul in sight. I watched that moment alone as a nine-year-old. It didn’t take away from the memory I still hold close to my heart. I still vividly remember the TV sitting on top of a seven-foot Oakwood bureau as I was nodding off.

Last week, I watched game one of the Rays-Rangers series alone, too. I had two choices: Do I call my friends who hate any baseball team that isn’t “theirs” and won’t enjoy the drama of it all? Or do I set myself up like Henry VIII and enjoy pitch-by-pitch? Um, I’ll take the latter. I’ve now been inspired to give you: Mike Viso’s Guide to Gloves and Gluttony.

Like a Roy Halladay start, this is about serious preparation. Let’s figure out what you need to make this event as enjoyable as possible (substitutions are acceptable but not recommended).

The Starting Pitcher

For me, it all starts with a good beer. Hey, you’re not going out to a bar to watch the game or hosting a party, so splurge. I recommend going with a good microbrew. I like pale beers, so I think Heineken. This is where you have the most liberty to substitute or add. Arizona or ShopRite brand iced tea is a key to sustain the night. See, I’m fair.

Back to the beer, pale lagers usually go with light foods, so think Mexican. However, we’re going to buck trends. There was an underground made-to-order sandwich on my campus at La Salle University called a “Fat Ship.” It was the sandwich equivalent to the mother in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. This sandwich was handed down from the gods and delivered straight to your face for the price of $6.50. According to legend, it was created by a 150-pound kid who wanted mozzarella sticks, a chicken finger sandwich and french fries, but couldn’t afford all three, so he asked for them to be placed in a hoagie roll. Clearly, Zeus was with him on this day as the Greek owners obliged.

The Middle Reliever

A chicken finger sandwich is what is needed, and make sure you load up with the lettuce, tomato, onions, hot peppers and vinegar. That is one of the most underrated parts of any lunch-meat hoagie. Trust me. The best part about the hoagie experience is you can eat half and save the other half for either joyful eating after your team wins or depression eating after they lose. Win-win!

Now, you need finger foods. This is where I think you should really give your taste buds a workout. I went with salt and vinegar chips (surprise!), teddy grahams, crackers with hummus and vegetables with ranch dressing.  I know I feel better about myself when I eat vegetables; and after eating that sandwich, you’ll need a pick-me-up. Plus, with four-hour games, you’re going to need some variation.

Finally, you’re ready for the game. Please, make sure that you have everything within an arm’s length reach. You’re going to be sluggish by the third inning, so movement isn’t in your future.

If you have a cooler, keep it stocked with the refrigerated items. You can’t afford to waste precious bathroom time to get what tickles your fancy. The remote control has to be visible at all times. I can’t tell you how many times I twist one way and it falls in between the cushions, on the floor or under the couch. I lose one thing, and then everything spirals out of control. The next thing you know, I’m watching  iPad 2 — RIP Steve Jobs — and Levitra commercials for hours and there’s gummy worms stuck to the floor for two days. It’s the living room version of a Red Sox September.

As the pre-game is on the tube, you’ve got a crucial decision to make: What do you put on as the back-up channel? If you don’t have a DVR, you’re making a crucial mistake and limiting your world. You need control of the programming so you don’t get bogged down in commercials. Plus, how many times can The CW play the same episode of The Office? I know it’s funny that Michael Scott mixed up two cute Asian girls at a Benihana, but it’s October and I don’t want to even see a Christmas tree. Allow me a moment for a deep breath …

And we’re back. I found that It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has commercial breaks that sync nicely with the commercial breaks of TBS. You can’t go wrong with “The D.E.N.N.I.S System”. Also, now that 30 Rock is on Comedy Central, the choices are great for those who haven’t been blessed with the da Vinci-esque invention that is the DVR.

The Closer

The final piece of the puzzle is making sure your phone charger is nearby. You never know when Buck Martinez might drop a nice double entendre into the conversation. “For as big as his stick is, it’s hard to believe he can’t hit it,” I imagine Martinez would say. You must have the phone live and handy — no pun intended — so you can send mass texts out for a cheap giggle.

Finally, dear friends, you are ready to enjoy the game. Soak in every moment; don’t miss a pitch, because you never know when you might see Aaron Boone or God forbid, Steve Bartman.

Play ball? Let’s eat!

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