Saturday, January 23, 2016

Breakfast at the Ballpark

Man does not live by hot dogs alone. At least not in the morning. Just as I love beer, I have a hard time downing one before noon. I'd also never eat pancakes for dinner. So what do you do when there is a game time of 10 am? Breakfast at the ballpark.

There is something serene and surreal about taking in your morning sustenance while watching the team take the field. Palm Springs is just springing to life when the first pitch is thrown from the mound. A bite of muffin with each crack of the bat and a swing of coffee between batters. My heart rate rises as the caffeine catches catches up with the innings played. By the fourth inning, I have enough coffee-infused energy that I am ready to take the mound and fan a few batters. Then I remember I can't pitch. And I was not invited to play. And taking the field would mean getting ejected from the ballpark.  By that time the first game is nearly over and it is close to lunchtime and I can start looking forward to doing what I was born to do....check out the hot dogs at the ballpark.

If you have never had breakfast at that ballpark give it a try. Rarely, MLB teams have an early start. Sometimes the Boston Red Sox have a morning game due Patriot's day or the marathon or some other schedule-wrecking event. Minor league teams on the other hand have numerous morning games throughout the season to accommodate their travel schedule.

Trust me when I tell you, a morning  ballgame is a good excuse to call in sick for work. You can always finish that project that was due to your boss last week. How often can you eat breakfast while watching the national pastime live? It really is worth risking getting fired over. And if you do get fired, I need someone to help drive this summer.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Baby, It's Cold Outside

There is a big snowstorm coming. Probably. At least where you live. It’s going to be cold and you can sit by the fireplace and talk about the upcoming NFL championship games.

Me? I will be in balmy Palm Springs to catch a few days of the California Winter League. It’s supposed to be in the 70s. Don’t hate me.

The California Winter League is a short season instructional league consisting of 14 teams and over 300 players. It runs from mid January to mid February and plays all games in two ballparks in Palm Springs, California. Its purpose is to provide coaching for unsigned players and allow scouts to take a look at that talent. About half end up with professional contracts or sign with an independent league.


One ticket (about 8 clams) gets you a seat to all three games for the day. That’s a lot of baseball and of course fans will get hungry. I will be testing the dogs at both venues and adding a little color about the ballparks as well. Hopefully the California Winter League takes hot dogs more seriously than the Arizona Fall League. I’ll try to hit a hot dog hot spot or two while there as well.

So while you are breaking out the snow shovel, I’ll be breaking out the sunblock and trying to decide which tee-shirt to wear for the day. Again, don’t hate me….I do it for you.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

It's 2016!!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! It’s 2016 and with that we at the Blog About a Dog wish you the very best in your endeavors over the next twelve months. With the New Year comes new goals, resolutions and ambitions so here is your favorite hot dog blogger’s resolutions for 2016 and then a few for you.

1.   Finish my book sequel. Yeah, I hoped to have it out before spring training, but I got sidetracked putting the finishing touches on my next non-baseball book (yes, I have other talents). The good news is that it is at the publisher now so Doggone Good is now on my front burner.

2.   I have come in possession of coupons good for 52 packs of my favorite hot dog brand, Hebrew National. It’s my intention that between me and my friends they all get eaten.
3.   Finally visit the Nashville Sounds new ballpark.
4.   Discover at least 12 new badass hot dog joints.
5.   Help at least one minor league team improve their hot dog menu.
6.   Help as many people as possible discover the meaty goodness of the American hot dog.

How about you? Need help with your 2016 agenda? You could help mow my lawn or wash my car, but barring interest in that here is a list of items for you to accomplish this year.

1.   Visit the local hot dog place in your hometown. If you take a road trip, seek out the best hot dog in that town.
2.   Offer to write a guest blog at Blog About a Dog regarding the best hot dog near you.
3.   Tune out all of the negativity about hot dogs in the media. Yes, if you eat hot dogs you will die. If you don’t eat hot dogs, you will die. No one is getting out of here alive….live a little.
4.   Catch a ballgame at the nearest ballpark to you.
5.   Take a baseball road trip.
6.   Buy a copy of Gone to the Dogs for a friend (yes, another shameless plug but somebody had to pay for my processed meat habit).

I’ll work on my list and you work on the tasking for you. Remember how fast last year went by? This year will breeze by even quicker. Remember, pitchers and catcher report in only a few short months. And that Super Bowl party you are planning….serve up some hot dogs. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sausage Greetings

The holidays are upon us. It’s Christmas actually. Here at the Blog About a Dog you can actually say Christmas. Just please don’t mention it until the Thanksgiving turkey has been served.

So….what to get the hot dog lover in your life? Just as I can give advice on which hot dogs are tasty, I can help you find the perfect gift for that person who loves to chow down on the most American food available. Here are my top 5 hot dog related 
gifts for 2015:

5. A hot wheels like replica of the Weinermobile. EVERY hot dog lover secretly wants to drive the Wienermobile. I would personally like to try and parallel park the thing. Now, your loved one can push it along the carpet to their hearts content.


4. Hot Dog underwear. Only you will know about the wieners under your trousers. Plus, chicks dig them. I have a pair, trust me on this.

3. Hot Dog Christmas ornament. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, looks more fashionable than a hot dog hanging on your tannenbaum.

2. Also on my wish list is the hot dog toaster. It warms your weiner and toast the bun AT THE SAME TIME. Who said American ingenuity was dead?

  1. The number one item you should get your hot dog loving friend/lover/coworker/boss/cousin this year? A copy of the timeless literary favorite Gone to the Dogs: In Search of the Best Ballpark Hot Dog. Sure, it’s a shameless plug, but reading this book will make you smarter and more attractive. It is guaranteed to get you promoted at work and laid. It's available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and via TomLohrbooks.com

As baseball fans we got to open one of our gifts early this year as the baseball winter meetings were a flurry of interesting hot stove activity. Hopefully your real gifts will be just at interesting. It has already snowed three times here in northern New Mexico, but we at the blog are already dreaming not of a white Christmas, but a green spring with new grass on the field.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

I Used to Work for the Government, I'm Here to Help

If there was ever a league in need of hot dog help it is the Arizona Fall League. If you read my previous posts you know that the meat menu is, let’s say, lackluster. Fans expect more and deserve better, and ballclubs deserve to turn a modest profit as pushers of processed meat. There is a happy medium.

Some fans really don’t care what they stuff in their mouth, as long as it is a hot dog and a beer to keep the national pastime American. Others hit the ballpark hoping to find something unusual to make their visit to that stadium unique. The AFL teams can do both. I propose offering a regular hot dog menu as they do now, and a limited selection of specialty dogs that can be linked to the home team. The clubs already have the mundane dog thing under control. But by doing some simple math they can figure out how many specialty dogs to have available during any given game. Baseball lives for metrics you know. The data would be easy to compile. Just get a set amount of ingredients ready each day and put the dog on the menu. When they are gone, they are gone.

Pulling from my previous posts, here are my hot dog recommendations for each team:

Peoria Javelinas
The Javelina Little Pig
  1. Hebrew National frank.
  2. pulled pork topping
  3. salsa
  4. OPTIONAL: jalapenos

Scottsdale Scorpions
Scorpion Dog
  1. Hebrew National frank
  2. grilled red peppers
  3. sriracha sauce
  4. OPTIONAL: crushed red pepper

Mesa Solar Sox
Sun Burst Dog
  1. soft bun brushed with cornmeal
  2. Hebrew National frank
  3. man n cheese topping
  4. crushed red pepper

Glendale Desert Dogs
Coyote Dog
  1. Hebrew National frank
  2. pico de gallo
  3. shredded pepper jack cheese

Salt River Rafters
Salt River Sausage
  1. potato bun
  2. Klement’s 1 pound mild Italian sausage
  3. spicy brown mustard
  4. sauerkraut
  5. OPTIONAL: grilled onions

Surprise Saguaros
Cactus Dog
  1. unsteamed bun
  2. Hebrew National frank
  3. sweet relish
  4. grilled green peppers
  5. three small dollops of saguaro cactus jelly

There you have it. Six awesome entrees on a bun. Each worthy of a least a bucket of fan drool. Considering that the AFL is the only place in the nation you can catch baseball that time of year, it falls on the league to carry the specialty hot dog torch. Baseball is always good, but it is always better with a delicious dog in hand.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Arizona Fall League Recap

Just call me the Moses of meat. Like the biblical hero, I wandered the desert for what seems like forever, or at least a week. While the real Moses delivered a people to the promised land, I , as promised, delivered the lowdown on the hot dogs in the Arizona Fall League. Call me conceited, but I think my quest was slightly more noteworthy; at least to baseball fans.

The dude in robe and beard brought forth the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai. I bring forth Ten Tidbits from taking in a week of Arizona Fall League action.

  1. The AFL is one of baseball’s best kept secrets; even to those living in the Phoenix area. Only the most ardent fans even know of its existence.
  2. Crowds are small. Really small. You can catch a game in a spring training facility with a crowd of a few hundred.
  3. Most games are noonish, or at least afternoon. A few are in the evening.
  4. Day games are normally nice weather-wise. If you attend a night game dress warmly.
  5. Tickets are only sold an hour before gametime if getting a seat at the ballpark on game day.
  6. Tickets are very reasonable. Eight bucks.
  7. It’s festival seating at every game, meaning your ticket lets you sit in any open seat.
  8. While you get a great break on ticket prices, you do not on concessions.
  9. The AFL has an all-star game mid-season.
  10. Parking is FREE!
  11. The concessions are scaled WAY back. Expect the basics and nothing more.
  12. You will sit next to real baseball fans, the conversation is amazing if baseball is your thing.

Then there are the hot dogs. I truly expected at least some sort of Fall League dog, or a team favorite or two. By and large the hot dogs fell flat. A few ballparks offered up a slight variation on the dogs but most just offered a regular hot dog. The same ballparks during spring training had some awesome eats.

The Nogales Sonoran Dog. Yes, it is that delicious.
But, I get it. It is hard to offer up some crazy, over-the-top dog when you only have 200 fans in the seats. It is a lot of time and expense to please 60 or so fans that would probably buy a monster dog at an AFL game. Still, each team could offer one with little effort, and I detailed a dog for each AFL team in their respective blog. I’ll recap those in the next post.

Hot dog takeaway? For an afternoon game skip the meal at the ballpark and get a wiener at Short Leash Hot Dogs near downtown Phoenix. Ask for their baseball-themed hot dog. If you are going to an evening game, grab a small snack prior to the game and then after hit the Nogales food truck after 7pm at the intersection of 20th and East Indian School Road; best dog in Phoenix. Tell them Moses sent you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Surprise Saguaros

Typically, the Arizona Fall League has six teams that play in six different spring training facilities. This year, the ballpark for the Surprise Saguaros is undergoing renovation (hopefully including a new hot dog stand). Therefore, the Saguaros are playing this AFL season at Salt River at Talking Stick; the same ballpark as the Salt River Rafters.

For those of you devoid of a desert dictionary, a saguaro is that big cactus with the arms (usually two) bent at ninety degree angles. It looks kind of humanlike in some ways. If you are a Dallas Cowboy fan you may not know that is sort of looks like a referee signalling a touchdown. If you are in or have ever been in the French armed forces, you know this as the international sign for surrender.

Normally, I would rate the hot dog here. But it is the same dog as they serve at Salt River, because you see, they are playing at Salt River. So I’ll spare you the details. Suffice to say it was a larger hot dog.

But not all is lost for the Saguaros, I have designed a special hot dog for the team that they should adopt for next season:

Cactus Dog
  1. unsteamed bun
  2. Hebrew National frank
  3. sweet relish
  4. grilled green peppers
  5. three small dollops of saguaro cactus jelly

Putting jelly and other weird stuff on hot dogs is all the rage, and of course it could be optional. But if you want to excel in the world of hot dogs, you gotta push the envelope.