Hunger Games

Hunger Games

A lot of people say they eat, drink and sleep sports, but does anyone really do it, ingesting nothing but Dodger Dogs and Soda Shaqs and Greg Norman Zinfandels 24/7?

This is an article from the Aug. 12, 2013 issue

Is it even possible to sustain human life on Killebrew Root Beers and Wayne Gretzky Icewines? I sure hoped so, for I resolved to spend a day subsisting exclusively on foods and drinks named for teams or athletes, bingeing on sports 24/1, in the interest of answering a larger philosophical question: Can man survive on sports alone?

Rob Gronkowski didn't seem to think so. Over breakfast the Patriots' tight end stared in disbelief from my box of Grönk Flakes. I could have chosen VottO's, another real cereal, named for Reds slugger Joey Votto, whose sport is rife with names ready-made for cereal boxes: Victorin-Os, Coco Crisps, Wieters. But something about Grönk Flakes, with their gratuitous umlaut, suggested the sugarcoated cereal would be a Motörhead concert in my mouth. And so it was.

The Gr√∂nk Flakes were chased by a can of Arnold Palmer Tee, a high-octane, high-fructose cocktail of iced tea and lemonade that steams in at a Bloomberg-blanching 23 ounces. Taken in tandem, Arnie and Gr√∂nk were a potent breakfast speedball that propelled me—tweaking on the 1st tee—into a morning round of golf.

Alas, breakfast had given me the swing of Gronk and the stamina of the 83-year-old Arnie. I abandoned the round after nine holes, my sugar crash quickly cushioned by dual air bags back home: a fistful of Baby Ruth bars and a bottle of Josh Beckett Chardon-K, with its top note of fried chicken.

Question: Is 10:57 a.m. too early for a nightcap? Consider that my remaining athlete-embossed drink options were almost entirely alcoholic, including wines from Yao Ming, Mario Andretti, Ernie Els, Geno Auriemma, Bo Schembechler and Mike Ditka, whom I pictured as the Thomas Haden Church character in Sideways, quaffing pinot while chewing gum.

Lunch was not entirely liquid: Two Fenway Franks and a pound of Yankee-logoed peanuts. Imagine a bleacher fistfight, in food form. For divisional balance I drank straight from a bottle of a Jose Reyes cabernet bearing the likeness of the Blue Jays' shortstop, produced when he was a Met. "That's two teams ago for Reyes," said the liquor store manager who sold me the bottle. "So you know it's well-aged."

Feeling well-aged myself, I belly-crawled to the couch after lunch, hoping to be revived after a siesta by a bag of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Carolina Barbeque Potato Chips, eased down by a can of something nonalcoholic: perhaps a Killebrew Root Beer (named for the Hall of Fame slugger) or a Soda Shaq Blueberry Cream Soda (recently brought to market by Shaquille O'Neal). But a search of area grocery stores for any of the above products proved fruitless, in every sense of that word.

Indeed, my body, like a scurvy sailor's, was now craving fruit, or anything resembling it. The closest approximation was another beverage behemoth, a 23-ounce Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear Lemonade with Mango, which would qualify as Jack's 19th major if you count the major surgery to a distended bladder I was contemplating.

Cotton-mouthed, I mixed the Nicklaus and Palmer drinks in a lowball glass. The result was a pleasant half-and-half-and-half-and-half that I came to call the Golden Palmer, or Palme d'Or. I sipped this rust-colored restorative and dreamed of dinner: a Kobe steak.

Alas, my wife—for I was now comprehensively incapable of driving—couldn't find any Kobe at the grocery. "I almost got a pasta with Paul Sorvino on the box," she said. "But then I realized that Paul Sorvino is not Lee Trevino." And so I supped instead from a six-pack of heat-and-serve SuperPretzels, whose box featured a picture of Angels outfielder Mike Trout holding said product. Here, in a single photo, were the twin staples that man has lived on since the time of ancient Rome: bread and circuses.

Nightfall brought a grim vigil in front of the freezer: Bronx Bombers Sundae and Green Monster Mint ice creams, eaten straight from the tubs while standing up, my bloated figure backlit by a lurid fridge bulb. I poured a shot of vodka into the dregs of an Arnold Palmer to make a John Daly and rolled—almost literally—into bed. After a day of eating and drinking them, I was finally ready to sleep sports.

If I had hoped that eating the food of athletes would give me the body of an athlete, that athlete turned out to be Butterbean. Beached on my bedspread, I contemplated the day's lesson. That lesson, like much of my diet, was hard to swallow but worth taking in. It was true both literally and metaphorically, and it went like this: The man who consumes sports to the exclusion of all other things will never be well rounded.

Or not well, anyway. He'll definitely be rounded.

What is your favorite sports-related food or beverage?

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