Craig Calcaterra

End is Nigh

The Braves’ new concessions presage the End Times

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Each year baseball writers are sent a bunch of PR announcements about promotions and concessions at ballparks. Sometimes they’re interesting and we’ll write about them but I’d say we ignore most of them. Oh, you guys added a patch to the souvenir caps? How nice. Pass.

Sometimes, however, we have no choice but to pass along these messages. In some cases because they communicate something new and wonderful. In other cases because someone needs to warn an unsuspecting populace. This latter category is normally for new concession items. There has been a real escalation of the crazy with respect to ballpark food in recent years and, frankly, some of the items are frightening.

I’m not sure how these latest concession items — from the folks at Delaware North, who run the food operation at Turner Field and 10 other ballparks — cuts. They sound sort of amazing in some respects and horrifying in others. I think the sauces are trying to hard and/or suffer from the need for brand synergy, but I guess you gotta pay the rent somehow:

  • Tater Tot Chop – On a comfort food ranking, this one is off the charts!  The “Tator Tot Chop” starts with a layer of tator tots pressed in a waffle iron, loaded with bacon, melted cheese and jalapenos, topped with a second tator tot waffle and served with coca cola infused ketchup.  Described by the unofficial taste-testers as “freaking awesome.”
  • T.E.D.  aka “The Everything Dog” – As indicated by its name, this monster dog includes nearly “everything” available at a ballpark concession stand.  T.E.D. Is a foot long hotdog layered with fries, chili, nacho chips, beer cheese and jalapeños, topped with popcorn then drizzled with coca-cola infused bbq sauce.
  • “Punisher” – This one is so good it hurts.  Country-fried smoked rib meat slathered in a Monster energy drink infused BBQ sauce, topped a fresh cut beer-battered onion and “slawsa” tucked in between a toasted and buttered Hawaiian bun and pinned in place with two slices of bacon… punishingly delicious

After reading these I double checked the calendar to make sure it wasn’t April Fool’s Day. Then I checked again. Then I checked to make sure it was sent from a Recognized Public Relations Professional and, yep, it’s from a person who is both reputable and connected. These items, it appears, are real. All the way down to the Monster Energy Drink-infused barbecue sauce.

Which, um, OK, I’d probably try. If someone else was buying. I’d at least eat a couple of bites. We’re all gonna die one day anyhow, right? You wanna be on your death bed regretting not eating “The Punisher?” Not me, jack. I want to suck the marrow out of life. Assuming the stuff in that sandwich doesn’t dissolve the marrow in my bones first.

Introducing “Sabermedicals”

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 16: Jason Heyward #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals rounds third base after hitting a solo home run against the Miami Marlins in the first inning at Busch Stadium on August 16, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Clubs can analyze a player’s performance to the nth degree, crunch numbers until the sun goes down and build rosters accordingly, but it’s all for naught if a key guy pulls a hammy, strains an oblique or snaps a ligament in his elbow. To that end, the business of keeping guys healthy is incredibly and increasingly important.

To that end, clubs are looking for new ways to not only patch hurt guys up but to keep them from getting hurt in the first place. Today Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes about the Cardinals’ efforts in this regard. Which he calls “sabermedicals.”

You can tell any organization’s priorities by how it’s organizational structure is set up. Not just sports teams, mind you. If a company has its security chief answering to the head janitor, it tells you what they think of security. By the same token, when a team like the Cardinals — like some other clubs — puts the folks analyzing medical data and working on prevention on equal footing with its actual medical staff, you can tell that it’s a priority.

It’s fascinating stuff. It used to be “rub some dirt on it and get back out there.” Then it was “let that ligament heal and get back out there.” Now it’s “let’s see how we can keep you out there the whole time, shall we?”

Fan saves boy from getting hit in the face with a bat

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We’re used to seeing balls going into the stands at baseball games. Bats fly into the crowd sometimes too, but they are a bit less common. One went flying into the stands at the Braves-Pirates game over the weekend at the Braves’ Disney complex and nearly smacked a boy in the face.

He was saved by the adult next to him who shot his arm out just in time to deflect it. The moment was captured perfectly by photographer Christopher Horner of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Note that in the second picture the bat has done a complete 180-degree turn, less than a second later. That suggests it was helicoptering in pretty darn quickly. It also suggests that our hero on the left of the frame has a big, big bruise on his forearm today.

I’m sure he’ll take it, though, given that he saved that boy from some far worse injuries: