Ladies and gentlemen, baseball is back.
Each year, we hear that hope springs eternal. No matter which team you cheer for, every baseball fan of any team—both young and old—has a reason to be optimistic. Unless you live in Kansas City, Houston, or Seattle.
While the passing of the vernal equinox promises renewed life for all sentient beings in the northern hemisphere, the summer of 2012 threatens to eclipse this notion by offering a smattering of opportunities for baseball fans to watch life slip away, all whilst enjoying our nation’s pastime at the local stadium. If you support a terrible team, this may come as a welcome change from suffering through a miserable 162-game slog to the familiar confines of the musty cellar.
Whatever your reason for attending a game, fans of all ages will gain unprecedented access to a level of baseball enjoyment in 2012 that will surely test the bounds of mortal life. I am not talking about experiencing your team winning the World Series, witnessing a no-hitter, or catching a free t-shirt fired out of a cannon.
I am talking about baseball’s foray into the latest innovative, delectable stadium junk food that promises to draw millions of fans through turnstiles across the country.
Sure, every stadium has its signature bite, whether it’s a cheesesteak at Citizens Bank Park in Philly, Rally Fries at Safeco Field in Seattle, or the overrated Dodger Dog in Los Angeles. This season, however, will see the birth of a new and improved species of foodstuffs that will leave thousands exiting the park on stretchers.
It is 2012 – the year of the heart attack.
A look at some of the notable additions to the rosters of several stadiums’ food vendors will explain why.
Orioles Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore
When you have one of the worst teams in baseball, you have to respond with desperate measures. Desperately awesome freaking measures. It is a well-known fact that bacon is the greatest invention of all time. Baseball embraces this tradition by offering fans, non-fans, and dignified food connoisseurs bacon-wrapped hot dogs at many parks. While this tender morsel deserves its place in Cooperstown, Oriole Park at Camden Yards boasts one of the hottest prospects in all of stadium food, with particular appeal to pork purists. Ditching the tradition of baseball and hot dogs, vendors at Camden Yards will be delivering the goods without the filler this year.
I present to you what is perhaps the greatest sentence I have ever typed.
Bacon. On. A. Stick.
[Ed. Note: It felt so good, I had to cut it into four separate sentences.]
To top it off, this divine manna from heaven is served on a long skewer, half of which is bacon-less to allow for it to be served standing up straight from a bottle of ice cold Natty Boh beer (that’s Natural Bohemian for the neophytes).
Also serving: Double-double hamburger/crab-cake monster…burger(?) or is it a crab-cake burger sandwich? Whatever it is, it’s huge; and should you keep it down, it will also satisfy your daily caloric intake for two weeks following ingestion. More information on pending heart attacks in Baltimore here.
See you at Camden.
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas
If you are like me and are sick and tired of hearing “everything is bigger in Texas,” get ready for a “bigger” dose of clichéd bull plop this summer. Rather than mask an apparent instability with penis size through unbridled megalomania, the Texas Rangers are taking on the proverbial Lone Star State adage with a literal and hilarious twist of irony. Behold, the “Champion Dog” – an enormous two-foot-long hot dog that weighs in at an even 16 ounces and will set the customer back $26.
Calling it a “tremendous wiener,” team president Nolan Ryan also guarantees Rangers fans that, thanks to the Champion Dog, 2012 will also include major choking and sudden cardiac arrest as it did in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series.
Who says you can’t be a champion without winning a World Series?
Nationals Stadium, Washington D.C.
Have you ever shied away from ballpark burgers because they’re overpriced, too small, or have not been anointed with a catchy name? Have you ever wondered what would happen if baseball was combined with competitive eating? If you answer “yes” to either question—and plan on going to a Nationals game in Washington—you are in luck, my friend.
Behold, the ballpark burger world’s King of Kings: The StrasBurger.
Named after Washington’s phenom starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the StrasBurger outweighs the average newborn human at a walloping 8lbs. Unlike your typical burger, the meat is not merely comprised of a blend of scraps from the slaughterhouse floor, but rather, a tantalizing combination of rib meat, chuck, and brisket.
The Nats’ PR team didn’t let the puns stop at the patty and buns. As part of the meal, customers will be able to wash the StrasBurger down with a pitcher of soda. A “pitcher,” get it?
It remains to be seen whether the burger’s namesake actually lives up to his hype as a top-of-the-league starting pitcher, but the legend of the StrasBurger has already etched its name into the history books as the largest piece of food to ever be sold at a baseball game.
And now onto the biased Shameless Predictions for 2012
AL East: Tampa Bay Rays
I love Rays manager Joe Maddon and I envy the young talent Tampa Bay boasts seemingly every year. Oh, and really dislike New York and Boston, so “go Rays.”
AL Central: Detroit Tigers
Like everyone else, I already marvel at the 1-2 punch of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. They’ll lead the Tigers’ charge to blow away the rest of the AL Central in a boat race.
AL West: Los Angeles Angels
At the risk of jinxing my favorite team in all of sports, I still pick them to win the AL West because of their starting pitching. FanGraphs agrees with me here, ranking them as the #1 rotation in the majors, and their improved offense should translate into several additional Ws in the win column, just enough to eclipse Texas and their lineup of mashers. Oh, and the Angels picked up some dude named Pujols.
Wild Cards: Texas Rangers, New York Yankees
The one-game playoff/play-in game is sure to finish off what the Champion Dog could not and cause thousands more heart attacks. This is also why I picked LAA of A to win the division because I can barely handle watching a best-of-five series, let alone a winner-take-all game, and I would like to avoid a visit to the emergency room in October.
NL East: Philadelphia Phillies
Yes, they’re old, but they can still pitch. Miami and Atlanta will probably challenge, and if Washington can score enough runs to make their solid starting pitching hold up, they will also enter the picture. Probably the most interesting divisional race in my mind because I can see at least three or four teams challenging for the top spot. I also look forward to another season of Ozzie Guillen running his mouth, who is already off to a hot start with his latest comments of admiration toward Fidel Castro.
NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals
After winning one of the more exciting World Series in recent history (Game 6 might be one of the best WS games of all time in my mind), St. Louis lost a manager as well as a baseball icon during the offseason. Yet, young talent and solid pitching should allow the Redbirds to remain competitive in a relatively weak NL Central. Milwaukee will certainly challenge, but Prince’s production will be sorely missed.
NL West: San Francisco Giants
Pitching is good. Offense is not. Arizona will challenge, Dodgers stay close, but Giants pull it off.
Wild Cards: Milwaukee Brewers, Arizona Diamondbacks
World Series: LAA vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Pitching vs. pitching
Pitching will be a wash, Angels’ offense trumps Philly’s, and the Angels win the final World Series before the end of the world on December 21, 2012.