A Report on the Big Dogs

Statisticians whose business it is to know such things insist there are three parking spaces for every automobile in America. Willingness to “die in a minute” is assured if their calculations are wrong. This is small comfort–like tinkling brass in a musical world of crashing cymbals–when there are mass searches for spaces on baseball’s opening day. Such pursuit is not unlike “Black Friday,” when hordes seek parking spots at malls, where Christmas-stocked stores draw masses like moths to flames.

Retreat is unthinkable. Finally, fans park in distant lots, pay whatever is asked, walk as far as they must and “spring” for obstructed-view tickets, hang the cost.

After all, it’s opening day, perhaps one that will provide rich stories to tell grandchildren, even if much of the time is spent at concession stands.

Just as predictable as a season that brings heightened allergies destined to hang around until this time next year, concessionaires offer expanded refreshment choices. Most cost more this year than last. Some patrons joke that they only want to purchase hot dogs, not buy stock in the enterprise.

Fans buy them, though, their decision often enhanced by minimal eavesdropping. Hot dogs really do taste better at the ballpark, don’t they?

More than a century ago, peanuts and Cracker Jacks were unduly praised because lyricist Jack Norwood pushed these items in his popular melody, Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Think of the impact he could have musically in 2012 – when fans have more dollars than sense—forking over $26 for a hot dog

Any day now, they may get specific about what to call the monstrosity–one worth many times its weight in free advertising! When ordered at outdoor stands, they’re called “Boomsticks.” At stadium indoor eateries, they’re “Champion Dogs.” Whatever, they are bound to offer challenges, both financially and gastronomically.

Now, back to the weight thing. Major media in the Metroplex disagree on what it weighs. WFAA-TV’s colorful Dale Hansen says the dog weighs two pounds. A Dallas Morning News scribe claims 2.5 pounds, and a pair of Fort Worth Star-Telegram writers reports the weight to be one pound. (They are unanimous on length being two feet.)

A server weighed in on the matter. “If you want it dry, it’s a pound,” he said. “Add mustard, and we can take it up to 2.5 pounds, or even more.”

They sold 191 of the enhanced hot dogs on opening day—about $5,000 worth. (Surely buyer’s remorse comes later, after all the bills are in.)

Funny how fans vigorously defend their purchases. Two guys claimed to have skipped breakfast to share one; another said the exotic “challah bread bun” made it worthwhile. The new item also made for a ton of “photo ops.”

One fan hummed the radio jingle promoting Armour hot dogs a half-century ago. You remember it, too – the ditty described the kinds of kids who like ‘em. It omitted almost no one, citing “fat kids, skinny kids, kids who climb on rocks…tough kids, sissy kids, even kids with chicken pox.”

One patron was puzzled by the “odd” $26 figure charged for the fancy bun, giant wiener, mustard, onions, jalapenos, cheese and chili. Eureka! Add 15% tip, and the figure comes to $29.90. So, just fork over $30, meekly telling server to keep the change.

Big business that professional sports has become calls for all sorts of “cash creativity.” The piper demands payment. What can concessionaires do for an encore in 2013? Much depends on Japanese pitching sensation Yu Darvish. If he has a banner season, watch for him to pop up on billboards—and computer “pop-ups” – munching “sushi dogs.” Then, come next spring, they’ll be offered at the ballpark for $86. With tip, it comes to $98.90. Again, “keep the change” will be the fans’ lament as $100 bills change hands. Teeth will grind with additional tabs if fans have yens for saki to wash the sushi dogs down.

The old line about the birth of fools every second seems ever true – particularly on opening day. For a few magical hours, hurts, fears and disappointments are put on hold, replaced on baseball season’s cusp with hope that springs eternal.

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

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