As a rabid baseball fan I get to the ballpark as often as possible. I love the pace and intricacies of the game, the sports history associated with it, my team (Go Giants!), the ballpark (can’t beat the bay view at AT&T Park), and all of the rituals of the sport. Everyone knows that one of those rituals is the ceremonial eating of junk food and drinking of beer. Seriously, what would a day at the ballpark be without mustard on your jersey?
Even the players represent the full spectrum of health habits. Unlike basketball or soccer where every star player has the physique of a Greek God (Adonis, not Bacchus), baseball is more, shall we say, forgiving. The body types of baseball superstars are closer to the array of those you would see on Sunday at the golf links than those featured in Magic Mike, the Movie. Yes, super jocks Matt Cain and Buster Posey are tall, lean, fit fan favorites, but Pablo Sandoval, aka Kung Fu Panda, gets equal applause when he and his panda-shaped frame amble up to the on deck circle. Panda has sadly regained much of the weight he worked so hard to lose last year and the announcers recently described him as “chugging” around the bases when he hit an awesome triple. Poor Pablo looked like he had climbed Mt Kilamanjaro when he was hosed down back in the dugout after scoring. While you couldn’t see it on TV, you got the sense that the defibrillator was not far away. The good news: the extra girth gives you long ball power; the bad news: sliding into third can produce meaningful readings on the Richter scale. Of course, if skinny Buster Posey had hit that same ball he would have been back in the dugout and on his third handful of sunflower seeds in the time it took Panda to make it third.
At the June 30th game, which the Giants sadly lost to Cincinnati, I was particularly struck by the mixed health messages given to the crowd via the video shorts that the Giants showed on the Jumbotron between innings. First up, celebrity chef Tyler Florence, or as my daughter calls him Ty Flo. Ty Flo is a local Bay Area celebrity who owns several amazing restaurants (one co-owned with tribute to decadent living, Sammy Hagar). In his very charming style, Ty Flo gave what can only be described as a nearly erotic paean to the billion-calorie half-pound Polish Kielbasa that one can purchase at the park. He showed close-up after close-up of the Panda-sized sausage as it was grilled in a cascade of slippery deliciousness. He lovingly displayed the extra condiments with which one can augment this torpedo of death–cheese, buttery grilled onions, sauerkraut, the works. It was like food porn and no doubt led to an incredible spike in kielbasa sales, matched only by the spike in cholesterol as measured by the nearly mandatory iPhone mHealth apps that permeate any Silicon Valley-area venue.
Just a few minutes later, the crowd was treated to the antidote to the Killer Kielbasa in the form of an extended 7th inning stretch video from super athletic trainer to the stars, Tony Horton. Horton is an all around health guru and developer of the P90x extreme workout, among other things fitness-related. Horton’s video, entitled SFGX, encouraged fans to get up to exercise in their seats right now (!) by engaging in various jumping and turning moves; no credit was given for kielbasa curls, although I can imagine those would lead to some pretty ripped biceps. Horton’s video, which you can watch HERE, pays homage to the predictable variability in baseball consumer engagement in ballpark-based wellness activities–two of the video participants exit stage left to get chicken fingers and beer. But there is no way a guy built like Tony Horton has even been in the same room as a half pound kielbasa, much less on the same TV screen.
If you go to Horton’s website, you find his advice for fans of his workout and healthy living regimen and a wide array of diet products and superfoods designed to give you a beach-worthy body. Ty Flo, while himself pretty fit and definitely a fan of organic and healthful foods when he is not extolling the virtues of whipped cream, typically hawks foodstuffs that would produce the ultimate beach ball body. Talk about a mixed message. Horton’s web article on obesity starts with, “Start to lead the way and improve your lifestyle one meal or one activity at a time.” In contrast, a recent tweet by Ty Flo is, “The Darlene Peach Pie is Back!”
Non-sequitur alert: It occurs to me that the sausage races that take place at Milwaukee Brewers games is the ultimate proof of baseball’s confused view of healthy living. Sausages engaging in exercise-based activities? Priceless.
Wouldn’t it be great to see Tony Horton and Tyler Florence (To Flo?) team up to create the ultimate AT&T Park superfood that delivers productive yet delicious calories, a slim waistline, and RBIs all in the same bite? I note that at least two retired SF Giants, Orlando Cepeda and former mascot Krazy Krab, have entered the food business, selling Puerto Rican Cha Cha Bowls and Krazy Krab sandwiches at AT&T Park. Perhaps there is another opportunity out there for a player in his twilight years (aka age 40) to create tofu kielbasas or something that bridges the gap between baseballs’s fast food customs and physical fitness, which should theoretically be an obvious goal when observing athletes in action. I note that Brian Wilson isn’t pitching this season and hasn’t been seen much at the ballpark. Perhaps he and his beard are busy in the kitchen?