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Dogs, Games & The Fourth

What could be more American?

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What could be more American than baseball, hot dogs, and the Fourth of July? Well, I guess counting your insider trading profits while taking a break from counting the threads on the percale sheets that bear your name (potentially from your tastefully decorated federal prison cell) might qualify. And maybe shooting off some Chinese fireworks while drinking a German beer and bitching about how the "gummint is taking away yer rites' comes in second. And we can't forget Kirsten Gum. Still, baseball, hot dogs, and the Fourth of July easily rank in the top five. Let's take a look at how this particularly American trifecta pays off in Charlotte.

Carolina Pride Hot Dogs (Knights Stadium) -- In my book, Charlotte Knights baseball is without a doubt the best sports entertainment bargain in the area. While the team is struggling in the standings, they still offer first-rate games in a comfortable stadium. You'll see major league stars at Knights Stadium; you just won't realize it for a few years. (As an example, Joe Crede will be one of them.)

Pros: The regular concession stands feature standard stadium dogs, but you can get grilled versions at the Picnic Pavilion grill up the third base line where you can also get grilled Cajun Brats. Directly opposite is your choice of numerous premium beers.

Cons: Jose Canseco has retired, which means the only hot dogs are now at the concession stands. Much like Canseco, they can be entertaining when not overdone.

Price: Regular dogs are $2, jumbos are $3. Brats are $3.50. Game tickets range from $6 to $9 but there are various 2-for-1 deals available.

Fun Facts to Know and Tell: Thirsty Thursday home games feature discounted beer and soda until 8pm. Bring any non-perishable Kellogg's brand food item to a Wednesday night home game and you'll get a free Knights duffel bag and Second Harvest Food Bank will get the food. While you're at it, send Second Harvest a check, they deserve your support.

Ruthian Hot Dogs (Qualcom Stadium, San Diego) -- Charlotte, if you hadn't yet noticed, has many big league aspirations, not the least of which is in regards to a baseball team. While I'm not going to get into the argument over whether or not Charlotte can legitimately support major league baseball (at this point, the answer is no), I'll use San Diego as our big league culinary comparison because San Diego and Charlotte have many similarities. San Diego's weather is much like our own. San Diego is in the process of building a new downtown stadium to replace an existing decent stadium in a remote location. It has a wonderful trolley line in place to get around town and to the ballgame.

The team plays up to kids, picking one out at random at each home game to shout "Play Ball!' over the Diamond Vision screen for example. And I happened to have gone to a game there in May.

Pros: The 10" Ruthian Dogs are named after Babe Ruth because, much like the Bambino himself, these legendary dogs are larger than life. Of course it probably would have been more accurate to name them after rocker Tommy Lee, but short of former wives Heather Locklear and Pam Anderson, who would be confident enough to bite into a Tommy Lee Dog? These Porn Dogs are truly a meal in and of themselves. Aside from their size, they're quite tasty with an appealing snap when you bite through the skin. There is just enough saltiness in the dog that, when teamed up with a big beer (wide assortment of brands available), makes it good to be the king.

Cons: Probably best to avoid on a first date. Unless you're Tommy Lee.

Price: Ruthian Dog is $4.75. Krispy Kremes (for God's sake, is it possible to go anywhere without seeing these things?) are 4 for $4. Game ticket prices range from $6 to $26 (airfare extra).

Fun Facts to Know and Tell: I almost felt obligated to tip the California-beach blonde who was sitting in the section over from me when she ate a Ruthian Dog.

Hot Dog Combo (Batting Cages at Celebration Station) Let's say you're not content to simply watch baseball and you want to get into the game. Well, as Jose Canseco recently showed us, it ain't that easy. Instead, you might want to head out to the batting cages and pretend you are Jose Canseco, or even possibly someone who still has game. Afterwards, celebrate your athletic prowess with a dog or two.

Pros: It is virtually impossible to screw up a hot dog. Steroid free.

Cons: It is virtually impossible to get someone to pretend that they care about serving you hot dogs when they work for minimum wage behind a snack bar counter. Beer free.

Price: Hot dog combo (includes bag of chips and soda) is $3.99. Single dog is $1.89. Two dogs are $3.00. Batting cage prices start at $1 for 16 pitches. Cage rentals are $15 for half hour $20 for an hour.

Fun Facts to Know and Tell: While Babe Ruth is best known for hitting home runs, he was generally regarded as an off-field triple crown winner for most of his career. Though official records do not exist, he is regarded as eating more hot dogs, drinking more beers, and bedding more women than any other athlete of his era. Both Jose Canseco and Tommy Lee would have been proud.

You can e-mail Gene Lazo at GeneYouIgnorantSlut@Yahoo.com.

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