Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Super Dogs

As you know I attempted to predict who would win the world series by correlating which team had the best hot dog at their home ballpark. My belief was that the team with the best dog would win against their opponent. Despite some early success the system failed in the end as a world series soothsayer. There were some mitigating factors: problems in the Middle East and the untimely death of Joan Rivers to name a few.

I decided to give the hot dog-predicto-machine another whirl and see if it could predict the Super Bowl winner. The hot dog vendors are usually the same for MLB and NFL teams in the same city (but not always) so I assume that the players on both teams have the meaty goodness of hot dogs coursing through their veins. Could it be the deciding factor in this years NFL finale?

When I was in Boston testing out the Red Sox hot dog (nestled in that funky New England bun) I was in awe of Fenway Park. It is one of my favorites and the oldest in baseball. I counted the “obstructed view” as part of the old time baseball experience, but the $30 GA ticket was the ballpark’s undoing. Thirty smackers for an obstructed view seat is not old timey. Besides that damn bun, the toppings on the dog were far too scant.

While Boston has an old venue Seattle has a slick new park with a retractable roof. Talk about eras apart. With that, both ballparks scored 26 but for different reasons. Seattle ended up being bit by their dog. While I dislike the New England style bun, at least it was fresh. The bun for the Mariner Dog was stale and didn’t taste all that great. How does that translate for overall scores?

DogBallparkTotal Dog/Game
Portability5GA Ticket Price2
It Factor3.5Fans5

DogBallparkTotal Dog/Game
Portability3GA Ticket Price3
It Factor3Fans4

There you have it. The Red Sox hot dog trounces the Mariners hot dog by 5.5 points. That translate to a huge Patriots win over the Seahawks. Trust me, I have worked out the kinks of the system. And this year's Super Bowl party? Skip ordering the pizza and cook up some hot dogs. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Regional Dog Fight: Pittsburgh vs Philadelphia

This hot dog face off pits the two key teams in the Keystone State against each other. The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies. It’s a close contest and I do my best to keep any influence from my childhood from skewing the results (I grew up a few hours south of Pittsburgh).

Both teams have a relatively new ballpark, and both are nicely done. Citizen’s Bank Park (CBP) sits just south of downtown Philly in a sportsplex area that hosts the NFL football stadium and an arena for one of those other sports I don’t like. PNC Park is just a short jaunt across the Roberto Clemente Bridge from the kernel of downtown Pittsburgh and sits on the banks of the Allegheny River. If you know my scoring system, the Pirate’s digs already smacks down the Phillies home park on location alone. While CBP is a very nice venue that I recommend, it simply cannot match the vibe at PNC Park.

The dogs were a much closer call. Keep in mind that Philly had an edge; I was getting lots of hot dog love from the City of Brotherly Love since it was dollar dog night. Hard to compete with that. Pittsburgh on the other hand had a very good price for the regular dog (best in the MLB) and the softest and tastiest bun of the entire adventure. In the end, Pittsburgh edged out Philadelphia in both dog and ballpark. Plus, I really like saying the word “Allegheny.”

DogBallparkTotal Dog/Game
Portability4GA Ticket Price4
It Factor4Fans5

DogBallparkTotal Dog/Game
Portability5GA Ticket Price4
It Factor4.5Fans5

You cannot go wrong with a dog at either ballpark. There is enough geography between the two as not to interfere with each others fan base, but Philadelphia has some major competitors if you are in the area and can only catch one game; Baltimore, Washington and the NY teams are stiff competition.

The mighty buccos may not be so mighty since the late 70s, but they still swing a mean hot dog

Thursday, January 1, 2015

It's a Whole New Year

Happy New Year fans! Last year was a blast and I hope your 2015 was as good as my 2014, and that mine is even better. Now that it is a new year check out the blog’s new look and send me some feedback, AND it is time to start the countdown to the most important date of 2015: pitchers and catchers report in 51 days.

I suppose it is also time we talk about plans for the new year and those damn resolutions. I really don’t make resolutions, I would vow to get a TV with better resolution as my resolution, but I don’t own a TV (really). I would say I would eat better, but that only means making all of my hot dogs with Hebrew National franks….I am a Hot Dog Explorer; eating healthy is not in my plans.

Oh, the plans. Yes. Well. I thought of going back to work (briefly). The off season has left me a little bored. Now that the winter meetings are over all I have to look forward to is Spring Training. Did I mention that pitchers and catchers report in 51 days?

And I will be right behind them. That’s right, your intrepid hot dog explorer is headed to Arizona to find out who in the Cactus League has the best hot dog. It has to be done and what better time to do it than to escape to the fabulous February Phoenix weather when it is cold as a well digger’s butt in Tulsa. I will hit all Spring Training facilities and catch a game and report back to you which ballpark had the tastiest dog using my previous scoring system.

Then, in April, the regular MLB season begins. That’s where I need your help.

Last year I discovered which MLB ballpark had the best overall baseball/hot dog experience. I used the combination of ballpark and hot dog scores to determine the winner. This year, I intend to repeat my journey but judge the SPECIALTY hot dogs offered by each stadium. I need you to help me figure out a grading system for the specialty dog. What factors should it be graded on? Also, do you want to know just straight up who has the best specialty dog or the overall baseball/specialty dog experience? Your input is valued.

Lastly, need a break from the winter weather? Come to Arizona and catch a game with me. I will shower beforehand, I promise.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Hot Dog Hot Spot: Moe Dogs

As was during the regular season, this blog will not only keep you apprised of the best ballpark hot dogs, but inform you of the best hot dog hot spots around the nation. Ballpark Hot Dogs’ travels frequently happens upon some of the best dog joints in the land and what better way to keep the taste buds in tune than to down one between games.

This Christmas holiday had your intrepid hot dog explore underway to the mountains of New Mexico. The halfway point between hot dog HQ and the Land of Enchantment is Amarillo, Texas. It is home to a place I had stopped at twice before but had the bad luck of it being on a Sunday when Moe Dogs is closed. Working closely with the NSA, I arranged to pass through Amarillo on a Saturday and cruise down Amarillo’s 6th street, which also happens to be Route 66.

Housed in a former old-time Diamond Shamrock gas station is Moe Dogs, home of the tastiest dogs in the Lone Star state’s northern panhandle. What was once the service station’s garage area is now a portion of the dining room and the grill where Moe serves up an array of meat rockets that will send your palate into orbit. Some of the menu entrees include the: Moe Killer Dog, Sherpa Dog, Thunder Dog, Lightning Dog and other magnificent meals of meat.

I ordered the Moe’s Spicy Tex-Mex dog and was not disappointed. The German sausage, jalapenos, onions and sweet peppers left my tongue smoldering and satisfied. One dog was a complete meal and every customer seemed to have a similar opinion.

Can it get better? You bet. Amarillo hosts an independent league baseball team that plays at the ballpark near the fairgrounds. In summer you can eat at Moe’s and catch some great indie action. Add in that Moe’s sits smack in the middle of Amarillo’s Route 66 kitsch hub and you can make a great getaway of dogs, baseball and Americana. Check out the video below for more on Moe Dogs.

You can’t get gas there anymore, but you can still eat at Moe’s. A highly recommended Hot Dog Hot Spot.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Regional Dog Fight: Tampa vs Miami

It has been a while since my last post. Why you ask? Partly because it is the off season, but mostly because I have been editing my book. You know, the one you can’t wait to buy.

Since much of the nation is mired in cold weather and we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring training, what better time to turn the regional dogfight looking glass onto the teams of the Sunshine State? Everyone wants to be in warmer weather this time of year, so let your mind wander south as we test the toasted weenies of the Tampa Rays against their rivals on the peninsula the Miami Marlins.

It really is a tale of two cities. Miami in on the bejewelled south coast with all of its multicultural flair, food and festivities in a place as much noted for its nightlife as it is its weather. Across the state, situated on the Gulf of Mexico, is the much lower key town of Tampa. That may not be confusing, but consider this: the Tampa Rays actually play in the city of St. Petersburg. Miami has baseball’s newest and most modern ballpark that could be mistaken for a museum of modern art, while Tampa has an old dilapidated dome that could be mistaken for nothing but an old dilapidated dome. Perhaps the threat of hurricanes is the only equalizing factors for both the cities. Tampa does have one HUGE thing going for it: my brother lives about 45 minutes south of the city and he is related to me. When you are a city on the brink, having a close relative of a famous hot dog celebrity within an hour’s drive can make or break you.

So how did the sausage showdown of the south pan out?

DogBallparkTotal Dog/Game
Portability2GA Ticket Price3
It Factor2.5Fans3

DogBallparkTotal Dog/Game
Portability5GA Ticket Price3.5
It Factor3.5Fans3

What we have here is a good old fashioned blowout. The Marlins take the Rays to task in this matchup. The biggest reason is the ballpark's location and cleanliness. Miami's stadiums is located in Little Havana with good access and is spic and span. Tampa is located in the wrong city and out of the way and needs a hosing down (by a hose, not a hurricane). 

The killer for the dog portion was the toppings. If you read my blog on this you know that the lower levels in Tampa have a great selection of toppings, while the fans that bought the cheaper tickets have a very paltry pick. Not cool...and it cost them. 

But be not troubled, you can put the Florida dogs to test yourself, and soon. I  will be flitting about the Cactus League in Arizona this spring and testing the dogs, you can check out the Grapefruit League and let me know how those are. And if you want to leave now and wait for the pitchers and catchers report date while basking in the sun no one will blame you. Send me a postcard. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Off Season Doldrums

So I was wrong about who would win the world series. I said I was a literary genius and prince of processed meat...not a fortune teller. But now that the world series is over, depression sinks in. I think it was Rogers Hornsby that said when asked what he does in the off season, “look out the window and wait for spring.” I feel his pain. To make matters worse I was in Kansas City last weekend and my hotel had a splendid view of Kauffman Stadium. Talk about a tease.

So what does a vaunted hot dog explorer do now that baseball has finally come to a close? Work on my book of course (you are buying my book aren’t you?). It has been sent to the publisher and being edited as you read this. After that I have to approve the edits, assist in designing the cover, submit photos for the inside and figure out a marketing plan. Look for a Valentine’s Day release. I had planned to play a lot of disc golf, but it just dipped below freezing here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I am no fan of disc golf in the cold.

I could go back to work I suppose, but I figured I would leave that to you people. Persons in my exalted position of hot dog expertism should not be made to work anyway, how else would I share my new found wisdom? Besides, there are a few things to keep up on during the off season. The players and managers of the year have been announced, along with the Silver Slugger, Golden Gloves, Rookies of the Year, Cy Young Award winners, etc. Then there are the winter meetings where the most significant trades happen. Lots to follow actually, if you can find it among the TONS of pro and college football coverage. Is college football fervor a sickness?

Model of Nashville's New Ballpark
Then there were the flurry of new minor league affiliations. Most exciting was that the Dodgers moved both their AAA and AA teams to Oklahoma. I now live about two miles from the Dodger’s AA team, the Tulsa Drillers. AND….two new ballparks are being built that I have to see in 2015. There is the awesome new facility being constructed in Nashville and a team is moving to my home state of West Virginia and will play in Morgantown next year. Gotta see both.

I also made a calendar that includes 13 of my best photos from my 103 day journey to over 70 ballparks. Message me if you are interested in acquiring one. They are fantab. I should be a photographer...preferably for for Playboy magazine, but I will take what I can get.

So how are you spending your off season? Remember, pitchers and catchers report in late February.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Regional Dog Fight: Texas vs Houston

Regional dog fights pits the titanic twosome of the Lonestar State against each other for a fur-flying showdown of who has the best MLB baseball/hot dog experience in Texas. While Texas is a huge state, both teams are a mere 4 hours apart in the two major metropolitan areas of DFW and Houston. This high plains dog-off will be fierce, with one team pulling out the biggest gun in the west.

I love Houston. I lived there for over three years. I love jogging in a tee-shirt in January, I love the humidity, I love having a ton of entertainment options in the nation’s fourth largest city. The traffic is as horrendous as they say it is, but you gotta sacrifice something for the privilege of living in the Bayou City. The poor hapless Astros have been one of the worst teams in baseball for several years running, and their attendance bears that out. I still like Minute Maid Park, aka “The Juice Box,” because they can close the roof when it gets oppressively hot. It is in a great location as well, and they have a tremendous hot dog selection. If their on field play matched their dogs, they might actually get above .500 someday.

DogBallparkTotal Dog/Game
Portability3GA Ticket Price3
It Factor4Fans5

Meanwhile, in Arlington, the Rangers put up a fair fight until they tear up the Astros by whipping out the biggest, baddest hot dog in all of baseball: the monstrous, several pound, two-foot long beast called the Boomstick. Not only is their ballpark more basebally (yes, I made that word up) but the boomstick is the atomic weapon of regional hot dog fights. Unfair? Perhaps, but you don’t build a nuclear arsenal unless you intend to use it and the boomstick is the processed meat equivalent of a Minuteman II missile. Don’t mess with Texas.

DogBallparkTotal Dog/Game
Portability5GA Ticket Price3
It Factor5Fans5

It's a good thing the Rangers had the nuclear option, they edged out the Astros by one point and it was the "it factor" that put them over the finish line first. The Boomstick won the day for Arlington. You can't go wrong with a game and a dog in either ballpark, but the Rangers have a better overall experience. And if you try to Boomstick DO NOT attempt on your own. Nuclear weapons are painful enough, but they taste really nasty on the way back up. You have been warned.