Take Me Out To The Home Game

In a season where ALL the games are “Home” Games

A satire…

Tampa – Local baseball fan Allen Cole gave a sigh of anxious anticipation this week as he eyed the 2020 Tampa Bay Rays schedule. “This will truly be one for the record books,” says Cole, 30, a computer programmer who has worked from home since March. “The sort of physical endurance a fan needs for a season like this, a lot of guys won’t be up for it.”

Cole refers to, of course, the fact that the entire Rays season includes just six days, none consecutive, without a televised game.

“A normal season has regular stretches of two to four days without a game,” says Cole. “The guys I know use those days to catch up on work, read to their kids, maybe call their mother. It’ll be real hard to do that this year.”

A condensed season with nearly constant games presents other challenges, too.

“With fewer games in total, I’ll probably go through fewer cases of beer,” Cole admits. “But never before have we seen this concentration of twelve ounce curls. You’re going to see a lot of guys that usually drink right handed adding some left handed days to their rotation.”

A unique season presents more than just physical challenges. Sports fans are emotional, sometimes egregiously so. A season with fewer nights off presents fewer opportunities to balance expectation, loss, and reality. Cole agrees.

“After a tough series loss, you know, maybe you dive into a work project or take your wife to dinner…whatever you gotta do to forget that loss for a while. With all these games, it’ll be hard to find time for lesser obligations. The real pros will get through it, though.”

Allen’s wife Donna, 31, speaking to us during a brief break from her eight hour New Girl marathon, has fears of her own.

“Allen hasn’t shaved since March,” says Donna, a part time hairdresser. “He usually does one of those damn ‘playoff beards.’ If this season bleeds into No Shave November…he’ll be able to play Joseph in our annual church Christmas play.”

Hygiene concerns abound for Donna, who indicates Allen has taken exactly eleven showers since his employer began work from home operations. “I’ve counted,” she contends.

Allen, to his credit, is resolute in the face of mounting skepticism.

“The work you do in the pre-season is so important, now more than ever. But you can’t lose sight of your daily preparation…do I have enough sunflower seeds, is there an afternoon start today….these are the questions that can really ruin a good season.”

In a year of mounting uncertainty, it’s impossible not to see the glint of optimism in Cole’s eye, a fan at the peak of his game.

“You train your whole life for the chance that a season like this might happen,” he says. “To finally have this opportunity to prove yourself…it’s truly special.”

At Press Time Allen Cole had not responded to three requests to take out the trash.

Big Game Snacks: Wreck Your Opponent’s Dreams, Not Your Weight Loss

Low-Carb Can Be Delicious

I couldn’t tell you exactly why, but tailgating is one of my all-time favorite ways to spend a morning or afternoon. I love tailgating before football games, every January before the Gasparilla parade, I’ve even tailgated before a Christian comedy show. There’s just something about drinks and snacks with friends alongside the anticipation of the days events that make what boils down to just sitting still bearable…I’m convinced the PGA survives based off this fact alone. 

You can’t always attend the big game though, a fact that KFC looked to remedy with their “Couchgating” spot a few years back…the concept being that you can do all that eating and drinking in the comfort of your own home. 

Wherever you’re…gating(?)…this weekend, one thing is certain: Tailgates are minefields for folks on a low-carb diet. But they don’t have to be. 

Full Disclosure: I had a lot of grand plans to meticulously detail and photograph my process for these three recipes. But…I ran out of time. Here, instead, are three low-carb recipes that are sure to be a hit during your Big Game festivities this week; I’ve included my own commentary on these recipes at no additional charge. 

From Sarah, at LiveEatLearn

I include this dish first because it happened to be the first thing my Ninja air fryer made on its maiden voyage. This is a delicious, guilt free way to incorporate a timeless, unmistakeable flavor into your Big Game snack program. A few tips: First, buying a full head of cauliflower and trimming it yourself is significantly cheaper, buying pre chopped is easier…your call. Second, I sprinkle some garlic powder on mine as well for some added savory depth. 

From Shannon, at Fit Slow Cooker Queen

This bad boy WOULD be killer with some of those rustic, blue corn tortilla chips. But, in the interest of being low-carb, regular flavored pork rinds act sort of like Fritos Scoops. Carrot chips and celery sticks would also work. In a pinch, this could even go over cauliflower rice. I prefer to make this dip with leaner ground beef or…gasp…ground turkey.

Barbecue Meatballs

From Sarah, at The Magical Slow Cooker

The combination of barbecue and onions in this recipe takes me back to my old love, the McRib…but in a good way. This recipe is not, as published, a low-carb option…swapping the “regular” barbecue sauce for a sugar free option will accomplish your low-carb goals, however.

Note: These recipes are intended to be low-carb alternatives to other “carb-forward” standards. That said, I wouldn’t expect you to see any weight loss progress after a day full of these options. Be that as it may, I’m a supporter of cheat meals…especially if they’re intentional AND low-carb.

But what to drink?! No Tailgate or Couchgate is complete without a cold beverage. Here are some options to consider:

For the Beer Guy: 

The two leaders in the extra-low-carb beer scene right now are Bud Select 55 and Miller64 (the recently re-branded version of Miller Genuine Draft 64). Neither of these hold much favor among the beer community at large – holding less esteem than drafts like Mich Ultra or Corona Premium. That said, these two crispy boys replicate the macro-brew experience with even fewer carbs than most light beer options. 

Which is better? Well, they’re pretty similar. Lately I’ve leaned more towards the Miller, which could very easily be a subconscious reaction to their fresh look. Also, the Miller gets extra points in my book as I’m able to find them in glass 12 packs sometimes, most stores in my market (Tampa/St. Pete) only carry these two beers in 24 packs, which is way more than I need to buy at one time.

For the Vodka Queen:

Ocean Spray makes a wide variety of Diet Cranberry based drinks. CranPomegranate, my personal favorite, clocks in at just 3 carbs per serving, keep in mind also that most vodka drinks will call for less than a standard serving of juice. You also can’t go wrong with vodka, seltzer/soda water, and a splish splash of lime.

For the Pirate and Southern Gentleman Alike:

I’m a big fan of soda, a habit I tend to reserve for weekends and parties. I’m also incredibly sensitive to caffeine. When I plan to do some drinking during evening activities I reach for caffeine free Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, the artist formerly known in the States as Coke Zero. This pairs well with my two favorite mixing liquors: Evan Williams (Bourbon) and Captain Morgan (Spiced Rum).

For the DD:

Bubly Water. Full stop. This Pepsi branded carbonated water has zero sweetener and zero calories. There’s tons of flavors out there, my favorites are Watermelon, Peach, and Mango.