Monday, March 31, 2014

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Welcome to opening day. The first Major League Baseball (MLB) games for the 2014 season begin today with the minor league opening day a few more days away. Soon you will hear the smacking of leather and the cracking of bats at a diamond near you. Opening day is where every team begins in first place, visions of championships dance in players’ heads and is one of the milestones that marks the advent of warmer weather. I realize that there are still flurries in parts of the nation, but rest assured….the boys of summer have taken to the field so sunshine is on its way!

It’s time to check on tickets to see your favorite team toss the around horsehide, plop your ass on a bleacher and take in the grandeur that one can only experience in the cathedrals built to house our national pastime. Not to do so would give me pause and suspect you of being a communist. Marx and Lenin didn’t play no damn baseball.

While you are sitting in the stands and heckling the ump the odds are you will have dog in your hand. In major league games alone this year it is estimated that fans will consume 21,357,361 hot dogs. Despite going to school in West Virginia I will do the math for you...that is 4,395 dogs per game (not figuring in that I will probably account for 10% of that number).

Don’t like hot dogs? Again reason to be suspected of being a communist.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Bracketology Take Two

While you are watching the condiments duke it out on the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (NHDSC) Facebook page, you might be wondering if this is the first hot dog contest they have sponsored. The first NHDSC dog duke out was last year when regional hot dog and sausages vied for the revered spot of "top dog."

Many well known styles of dogs were compared by fans of the wiener including the venerable Coney and the vaunted Chicago style dog. Who won? See the bracket below for the 2013 results. The West Virginia version was the "underdog" (I couldn't resist) but talent and taste bested the better known competitors. 

In case you missed it, I grew up in West Virginia and can vouch for the tastiness of the winner. If you have never had one take a detour on your next road trip and stop by one of the quaint small town hot dog joints for one of Appalachia's true treasures....the (now world renown) West Virginia Hot Dog. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hot Dog Bracketology

By this time you are hoop deep into the March Madness college basketball circus. You probably spent hours figuring out your brackets to test your clairvoyant sports skills. But did you know there is an even more important and interesting contest involving brackets unfolding?

The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (NHDSC, and no I did not make that up) is sponsoring the ultimate hot dog condiment matchup in conjunction with the annual college hoops contest. And while you can’t help your favorite team on the floor, you can help your favorite hot dog topping get the respect it deserves.

The condiment bracket functions just like the college brackets with wet and dry toppings in their respective divisions. You can watch the hot dog fixings duke it out for the top spot on the NHDSC facebook page. If you like the page you earn the right to vote on condiments each week. This week’s matchup is between cole slaw and mustard. Easy choice in my opinion….who desecrates their dog with a picnic side-dish anyways?

Baseball season starts in a few days, but right now it is basketball on center stage. And while not nearly as astute, intelligent, good looking or likeable as us baseball fans they do like their dogs. Join in the fun and lets help mustard reign king of condiments….I mean vote for the topping of your choice.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I'm on a Mission from God (or at least Oscar Mayer)

The countdown begins!
Last year I indulged in two of my passions: road tripping and going to baseball games. I incorporated a drive of the entire length of Route 66 with attending as many baseball games along the way as I could. That morphed into a larger road trip that allowed me to visit about 11 Major League Baseball (MLB) ball parks as well as some minor league venues. Sitting in the stands for three hours watching America’s past time works up an appetite, and it only seemed right to eat the one food so strongly assoicated with the sport: the hot dog.

Yes, I know….hot dogs are made by the anti-Christ and part of a secret government conspiracy to save social security by having people drop dead before they can collect by killing them off with a heart attack or stroke via hot dog consumption. Sure, there are healthier choices, but I liken it to my version of riding a motorcycle without a helmet: there are risks but life without risk is pretty damn boring. Plus, ALL of us put things into our body that we enjoy but are not exactly the best for us (beer, wine, whiskey, tabacco, pizza, anti-depressants, etc.). Hot dogs are my vice….cut me some slack.

In 2014 I intend to eat a hot dog in each of the 30 MLB ball parks. This blog will chronicle the journey that I estimate will consist of 11,000 miles of driving, 2.5 months on the road, a boatload of money, 3 bottles of peptobismol and a 5 gallon bucket of rolaids. In between the majors I aim to catch as many minor league games as possible. At each, I will eat the best dog each venue offers and grade them accordingly (the grading scale is still in developement and I welcome your input) as well as giving an overall impression of the park itself.

I blast off on April 12 with the first stop being a test run of the system at a minor league game in Oklahoma City