November 22, 2014

Elyria
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Dan Coughlin: “I’m the fat guy in the middle”

 I’m the fat guy in the middle.
Since I quit smoking, the pounds started sticking to me like Velcro. I saw what the scales said, but I didn’t realize what the mirror showed until we reviewed a videotape of the first “Friday Night Touchdown” of the season on Fox 8.
I don’t like looking at myself on television because it deflates my self-esteem. I like to think of myself as George Clooney but on television I look more like William Bendix.
Well, somebody stuck a video tape in the machine to critique opening night. We looked spiffy on the new set in our black shirts and khaki pants, just like a 1950’s singing group. There was Tony Rizzo on one side, John Telich on the other side and me in the middle. There was a time when, even compared to the Rizz and JT, I looked almost human. Now I’m jumbo-sized. Rizz has taken up karate, JT runs triathlons and I’m the Pillsbury Doughboy.
That’s what happens when you quit smoking. I can’t stop eating.
I never thought I had the will power to give up cigarettes. I loved them. The first thing in the morning, the first cigarette, the first cup of black coffee and the newspaper — man, that was living!
As it turned out, however, it was easy to quit. They used a Black and Decker to saw my chest open, put my heart back together and send me home with a lifetime guarantee.
“They said it will last as long as I live,” I told everybody.
Not even General Motors offers that kind of deal.
About three weeks after open heart surgery, it dawned on me.
“I think I’ve quit smoking,” I said.
I never even had an urge. And look at all the money I’m saving. At five bucks a pack, I’m banking almost two grand a year. Living longer and getting rich, who would have thought?
Although Fox 8 viewers soon will need 50-inch screens to see all of me, my cardiologist doesn’t care. He’d rather see me fat than puffing my brains out.
If only I could turn back the hands of time. Over the course of the 1979 baseball season, I dropped 30 pounds. When I got home after the World Series, even old friends did not recognize me. And it was unintentional.
It all started in spring training in Tucson when the Painted Rose saloon ran out of Coors beer.
“Try a Miller Lite. Tastes just like Coors,” said the bartender.
From that moment on, I switched from Budweiser to Miller Lite and cut my calories in half.
Traveling the baseball beat meant that after writing your game stories, you went to bed hungry. You could usually get a beer, but you often couldn’t find food at midnight.
At this stage of my career, traveling the baseball beat is unrealistic. I’ve already switched to Miller Lite. So I’m out of options.
Pass the doughnuts.