Bulldog Bites: The French Waffle at Restaurant Tyler, baseball updates and postseasons beginning

FOOD STUFF

The worst thing about our collective rush to get to work in the mornings isn’t that we miss valuable time with loved ones, that we forget to brush our teeth or that makeup is hard to put on while driving (I assume). It’s that we don’t get to properly enjoy breakfast. And I mean really enjoy it.

unnamedIt’s one thing to wake up early enough to make some eggs or drive through your favorite coffeehouse for a latte and a scone. It’s a whole ‘nother world of syrupy satisfaction to eat a big, heavy food-coma-inducing plate of pancakes with hash browns, bacon, eggs or even a few pieces of fruit (who are you trying to impress with that single bite of watermelon, anyway?) on the side.

Maybe that’s why weekend brunches have become so popular. It’s nice, when we have the time on Saturday and Sunday morning, to really enjoy a meal cooked for us by someone else and that’ll stick to your ribs far after you decide later that afternoon that you can skip the gym today.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, according to commercials for breakfast foods. I assume advertisers to be completely trustworthy, so I’ll take their collective word for it.

The same idea is relevant all over the place. In baseball, for instance, I’m told by those in the know that Friday nights are the most important game in a series. Or Thursdays, if the series starts early. Whenever the first game is, that’s important, and everything is easier with an opening win.

The whole point of both is that it helps to get off on the right foot, start the day on a good note. That really applies to most things in life, but we’re talking about pancakes and pitchers right now.

While I’m ethically barred from picking favorites on the baseball team, I’m fully allowed to choose my top breakfast items in town. And the choices are plenty. Any Sunday morning, dining rooms are full at The Veranda, The Grill and Restaurant Tyler, as well as the tables at several other of Starkville’s breakfasteering establishments. As they should be. And while all are worthwhile journeys to make, one stands alone in my stomach’s eye for creativity and digestive excitement.

The French Waffle at Restaurant Tyler is my Holy Grail of breakfast carbohydrates. It’s a Belgian waffle dipped and pan-fried in French toast batter, topped with butter, candied pecans, maple syrup and caramel sauce, joined on the side by my choice of crispy bacon and buttery cheese grits. Excuse me while I roll my tongue back into my mouth and take a sip of coffee to jolt my brain back into reality.

If it sounds good, it tastes even better. And there aren’t many better ways to start a day that don’t involve winning lottery numbers.

Not the French Waffle, still immensely tasty Restaurant Tyler brunch item

Not the French Waffle, still immensely tasty Restaurant Tyler brunch item

Certainly, we can’t each such items every day. I’m a big breakfast guy in spirit, but I would physically become a big guy, too, if I ate pancakes as often as I wanted. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t eat a good (if not healthy) breakfast with some semblance of regularity. If nothing else, it’s nice to take just a couple minutes to ourselves in the morning before we take on whatever the day has for us.

Having a good meal gets you ahead to start the day, just like winning a Friday night game gets you ahead to start the series. We’ve got a lot going on, and it’s easy to skip steps along the way, but both as breakfasters and baseballers, it’s worth making the extra effort and taking a little time away from other things to be present both in the mornings and on Friday nights.

Plus, everything is better with maple syrup.

SPORTS STUFF

Baseball: Hey, big weekend ahead! This week marks the beginning of SEC play for Mississippi State, which is kind of a big deal. MSU hosts Alabama, a team similar to the Bulldogs in a few ways, having started the season ranked but taken the hit on a few non-conference losses along the way, as well as missing some action due to weather. The Tide are now 9-6, while MSU is 15-4, and Friday’s game (important like pancakes!) will be the 389th meeting of the two schools.

For ‘Bama, the player to keep an eye on this weekend is sophomore rightfielder Casey Hughston. He leads the SEC in batting average (.500), hits (30) and doubles, while tying for the league lead in RBI (21).

As it concerns MSU, the good news is that the pitching rotation seems to have more or less settled itself, as John Cohen had hoped it would do. Junior Preston Brown (Friday), sophomore Austin Sexton (Saturday) and sophomore Vance Tatum (Sunday) are the expected starters. It will be interesting to watch MSU’s bullpen after two mid-week games against Western Kentucky put a few more arms into action than coaches may have liked.

Now, on that note, it’s worth mentioning the guy who will be catching those pitches. Sophomore catcher Gavin Collins is finally back in the lineup for MSU, and was actually a little ahead of schedule in doing so after hand surgery shortly before the season. Josh Lovelady has been outstanding filling his spot the last several weeks, but getting Collins back into the lineup both at the plate and behind the plate is a big win for MSU.

IIVSZVPFGNAPZTJ.20150308000834One more player we should talk about before moving on to another sport: Austin Sexton. The sophomore pitcher has gotten better and better with every outing, and even within outings Cohen says Sexton gets better with each passing inning. He’s now 2-0 on the year with four starts under his belt and his 25 strikeouts are third-most on the team. With 20.2 innings under his belt, Sexton has only given up 11 hits and six earned runs, holding opponents to a .155 batting average. And as Cohen has said, he’s only getting better.

Softball: Big series this weekend, but an even bigger win last Sunday. In walk-off home run style, MSU beat No. 9 Georgia in Starkville for a huge victory. Sophomore catcher Katie Anne Bailey was the hero then and she sort of has been all season. Bailey is batting a team-high .387 with a .435 on base percentage, and she’s got four triples in her 29 hits.

This weekend, MSU hosts No. 19 Texas A&M for a three-game set on Friday (5:30), Saturday (1 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.), all broadcast on SEC Network+. The Bulldogs are 18-5 overall.

Tennis: Alright, so let’s talk about the women’s tennis team. I’m planning to write something more extensive on them soon, but they’re doing incredibly well. At 11-3 and No. 41 in the country, it’s their highest ranking in almost a decade. This weekend, they host top-15 squads Auburn (Friday at 4 p.m.) and Alabama (Sunday at 1 p.m.), which are big opportunities. Winning one would be good for MSU, if they could pull off winning both, they’ll vault into the top 25 and be in great shape going forward.

On the men’s side, State is 11-3 and 2-0 in the SEC after beating Alabama and Arkansas last weekend. They’re on the road this weekend playing Florida Friday and Auburn Sunday.

Basketball: There’s nothing going on this weekend, as the men’s team finished its season Wednesday (more on them soon) and the women are off this week waiting to hear their NCAA fates.

However, on that note, MSU will indeed hear about their postseason plans on Monday night. The selection show begins at 6 p.m. and MSU has plans for a watch party in Starkville that night beginning at 5:30. As you have likely learned by now, starting this year, the 1-4 seeds in the NCAA Tournament will host the first two rounds, meaning there are 16 host slots open. The Bulldogs are and have been ranked in the top 16, but with an RPI in the upper twenties, they may be on the outside looking in for one of those top four seeds. We’ll know for sure on Monday evening.

QRCLJROYWCLEQIX.20150122025226Track and Field: There’s some intense competition happening this weekend as four of MSU’s track stars will be in Arkansas for the NCAA Indoor National Championships. Erica Bougard, Ebony Brinker and Rhianwedd Price will represent the women’s team, while reigning National Champion Brandon McBride will be there on the men’s side.

McBride, in fact, has since broken his record he set when winning the title last year and is one of the favorites to win the 800-meter weekend. Bougard, who won the National Championship in the pentathlon as a sophomore, is at nationals for the fourth time in as many years and was recently named the SEC Co-Field Athlete of the Year.

Golf: The men’s team is off this week after a rough outing at the Tiger Invitational, while the women are also enjoying spring break after placing seventh at the prestigious Darius Rucker Invitational in Hilton Head over the weekend.

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