Sunday the Angels welcomed Torii Hunter’s big bat back to the lineup after missing a month with a strained stomach muscle. He would have been back a few days earlier if it wasn’t from another stomach problem — eating at the Olive Garden.
Hunter did a rehab stint last week with the Angels affiliate the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, and as is tradition he took his minor league teammates out to dinner (which is more than we can say for Manny Ramirez). He took them to the Olive Garden, so he got off cheap, but at least he took them out.
But the revenge of the food gods was not pleasant.
Wednesday’s meal left Hunter feeling like “I was dying” with abdominal cramps, vomiting and nausea.
“How ‘bout that?” he said. “That’s like Russian Roulette – I shot myself. I don’t know if it was that – but everybody that had the chicken Parmesan was out. Six, seven guys.”
Sure, that was a fluke incident. The real question is, why the Olive Garden? Hunter is slated to make $16.5 million this season and has earned more than $60 million in his career, he can afford to eat anywhere. And he chooses the Olive Garden, a favorite restaurant of pre-teens and harried parents.
This pattern repeats itself throughout baseball and professional sports — these guys have the bodies of men but the palates of 12-year-old boys. There are so many good Italian restaurants around, and they are at the Olive Garden. NBA players are notorious for spending their road per diem at the Cheesecake Factory (which is a step up from the OG, at least, but not that far).
Not that every visiting player at to Anaheim should head down to Bayside in Newport Beach, or visitors to Dodger Stadium should go to Urasawa. But in a city with an amazing breadth of great restaurants of all styles and prices, why head to the Olive Garden? Aside from the breadsticks.
We bet next time Hunter heads to the Olive Garden he sticks to those breadsticks, and maybe a salad.
And they need it — the Angels are becoming a feared team in the American League because of their hitting and they will need all of it come the playoffs. Hunter has been their most consistent bat all year and he started the nine-run rally in the 13th inning that gave the Angels another big win Sunday, 17-8 over the Orioles.