NCAA Tournament Diary

1:41 p.m.

Spotted: TFM – Ole Miss ref giving a charging foul with DX chops. Really should be more of that.

- Nick



Day 2


11:16 p.m.

Harvard got some calls in this game, but I don’t care. It’s always nice to see some Harvard guys catch a break in life.


10:46 p.m.

How fast do you think Larry Eustachy could chug a 4Loko?

SHIT! I guess I am going to make a booze joke. I never stood a chance.


10:45 p.m.

Larry Eustachy is going to end up at another major program sometime soon. Maybe, like, next season. It’s pretty clear that the guy is a great basketball coach. I’ve only interviewed him once, but he seemed genuine enough.

I’m not even going to make a booze joke here. They’re mean-spirited and too easy.

I will say that college coaches have done worse than partying with some co-eds. He’s easy to root for.  Whatever the penance is for getting drunk at a few fraternities (for most guys, it’s a night on the couch), I think Larry has served it.


10:33 p.m. 

Note: Basketball feels a little different when you’re listening to Black Sabbath and not the announcers.


10:27 p.m.

Note: Tequila, grapefruit, simple syrup.


10:07 p.m.

So I’m sitting here thinking:

“I wonder what Jameel Grace is eating right now?”

I mean, other than his feelings.

Love you, Jameel. Hope it’s a cheesesteak.


9:42 p.m.

The following is going to sound snarky and like a dig at sideline reporters. It is neither.  What I am going to type is meant in earnest.

I seriously and wholeheartedly believe that sideline reporters should do away with their worthless lines of questioning. The system simply doesn’t work. Nothing is is gleaned by asking a coach, “Are you happy with your first-half performance” or “what will you tell your team at halftime?”

I almost always tune out responses to halftime questions. I move to replace that shit with any of the following:

– “What’s your favorite sandwich?”

– “Who are you wearing this evening?”

– “If this game were to be settled with an arm wrestling match between coaches, who would win?”

– “When was the last time you cried?”

– “What’s with that weird scar on your face?”

Basically anything but “how will you adjust to this press in the second half?”


9:19 p.m.

Q: If I would have told you this morning that you would have led your team in scoring, what would you have said?

A: I’d have asked where you got your time machine. How were you able to predict the future?

9:19 p.m.

So I guess we’re going to act like the Pac 12 is America’s best conference. Weird. Oregon was under-seeded and I think we knew that. And now we’re acting like Cal knocking off UNLV is reason to give this conference the “respect” it deserves.

The “two 12 seeds, two wins” talking point is a bit misguided.

Look, UNLV is a nice basketball team. It went 25-9 this season. But UNLV is a mid-major. It is a mid-major that lost to Boise State. It’s a mid-major that lost to struggling North Carolina. It’s a mid-major that lost to Fresno State.

Cal did not slay some dragon tonight. It beat a pretty solid mid-major. I don’t care what the seeding says.

Let’s hold off on the Pac 12 celebration.


8:48 p.m.

We definitely have a genie fetish in American society. I don’t know if it’s exclusive to American culture. Probably not. Americans are constantly crediting/blaming America for things that are really just human nature. Stuff like hard work or reality TV. Like people in Bolivia don’t work hard? Like the Swedes aren’t watching terrible television shows? Give me a break.

So it’s probably true that other cultures have fetishized the genie just like Americans have, but it’s certainly a thing in our culture. The genie is always a hot chick who dresses sexy but in a vaguely exotic way. The DirectTV Genie follows this tradition. I couldn’t tell you what nationality she’s supposed to be (and I assume this is an American actress), but you definitely get the feeling she’d have some kind of an accent, don’t you? And that she’d be generally submissive, but also super enthusiastic about meeting a refined gentleman like yourself.

Sex sells, is what I’m saying.

– TC

8:43 p.m.

Watching Dorian Green play for Colorado State and they mentioned he’s from Lawrence, Kansas, which reminded me of the best joke I’ve ever heard. It’s when people will refer to Lawrence as “Low Rents.” It’s such a great dig because it implies that Lawrence is such a crappy place to live that landlords can’t charge very much in rent, plus it kind of rhymes with the actual name of the town.  I wonder who came up with that one. So clever. I hope he has gotten rich from a life in comedy.

– TC

8:23 p.m.

I just ordered a pizza using my phone without having to talk to a human being. 2013 is so awesome. Any app that reduces the need to interact with other human beings is a blessing in my book.

– TC

7:39 p.m.

Michigan is ohsoclose to putting this game away, but the Wolverines are not great at toughness kinds of things. Also, CBS really really tried to convince us this South Dakota State point guard was all that. This guy’s having a terrible game, and I have to think it has something to do with Michigan’s size and quickness.

Over the years you learn to spot these guys. The broadcast crew always has to identify a star player and they have to act like the game that’s happening is a really interesting matchup.

Note: Lundquist is hitting about .450 on correct name pronunciations.

7:23 p.m.

Here’s how I’m dealing with this: I am jumping rope during any timeout, including halftime. I really felt like I needed to work out today, but I also really felt like I didn’t want to get off the couch and I also felt like ordering a pizza and drinking some beer later. I didn’t want to go to the gym and I didn’t want to go for a run, either. But if you add up all the timeouts in a game, you have eight four-minute media timeouts plus a halftime that’s, what, 15 minutes?

That’s a pretty good workout when you add it all up, and it doesn’t feel like I’m sacrificing anything. As I write this, sweat is rolling down my face and I’m using a towel to shield the couch from my sweaty shorts. If I play my cards right, I can stave off obesity for another three or four years.

– TC

5:26 p.m.

Oregon is lambasting Travis Ford’s Pokes. Ford is one of those coaches that doesn’t really have a reputation. You get the feeling that his career could still go either way. He’s had some talented players at Oklahoma State, but has had different levels of half-success since taking over the program.

You know what else he has? An IMDB page.

True story: Ford was in a Marlon Wayans comedy about the ghost of a basketball player helping his former team win games. This movie was called “The Sixth Man.” Ford played Danny O’Grady.

If anyone knows an Oklahoma State beat reporter, we should pool some cash and pay him to ask Ford about his role as O’Grady as the first question after this blowout.

 “So, you guys really could have used that ghost from ‘The Sixth Man’ today, huh?”

 – Rob

4:56 p.m.

The beef wellington playing point guard for Southern can really D up.


4:47 p.m.

OK you know that guy you run into at the rental car counter when there’s something wrong with your reservation and they have to call out the special guy who wears a long-sleeved button down Company Logo shirt as opposed to the polo Company Logo shirt and he shakes your hand and fixes it all up for you?

That’s Marquette coach Buzz Williams.

– Tully


4:24 p.m.

They just showed John Stockon on the Gonzaga broadcast. Never has a Hall-of-Fame basketball player looked so much like an H&R Block accountant. If John Stockon – even in his prime – showed up at your local gym for a pickup game, how late is he picked? We are, of course, assuming nobody recognizes him.

It’s certainly not first. It might be close to last.  There is no doubt that the guy who “looks like he might be able to dunk” is selected over the NBA’s all-time assist leader. The sorta fat guy who “seems like a rebounder” probably goes before him, too.


4:01 p.m.

Sweet mother of deep fried distributers. Southern’s point guard is glorious. This is my kind of player. He’s the kind of dude that makes you feel like less of an athlete in a pickup game and less of a man during the postgame trip to Sizzler.

It appears his name is Jameel Grace. He’s listed at 6-foot, 185 pounds. This is, of course, bullshit. The dude is 5-foot-10, 220.  If ever there was a time for a 16 to beat a 1, it’s now. We can’t lose Grace on day No. 1. He’s too important to this tournament.


3:47 p.m.

Uh, Rob, I think we’ve found your beefy point guard. Look at this guy on Southern.


3:43 p.m.

I was just reading the comments on a story about Naadir Tharpe at, and someone in the comments section actually wrote the following sentence:

These bigtime games seem always to provide extraordinary opportunities for spectacular action.

That sounds like it was written by one of those guys who writes the “reviews” that end up on movie posters. My second favorite aspect of that comment is that it was written as an open letter to Andrew White from Coach Internetz.

Andrew, stay ready. Somewhere in these next six games there just might become a super need for your brand of offense. These bigtime games seem always to provide extraordinary opportunities for spectacular action. Even if you and Rio see very little gametime, this tournament experience will pay huge dividends in oncoming years.

- tc


3:26 p.m.

What was Bob Knight’s greatest skill in life? It was being a dick. That’s what he was born to do. He was born to be a gray salty ice cube in your lemonade. His total lack of empathy or desire to be liked made him great at getting people to play basketball right.

– Tully

Remember what I said about people from Kansas going absolutly berserk over Wichita State for a  week every year?

All of these people are fans of either KU or K-State

Next week, WSU will go back to being the commuter school in the hood. I’m not complaining or judging. It’s just a thing that happens.



3:15 p.m. 



3:11 p.m.

Wichita State has a guy named “Cleanthony.” When I first saw that, I read it as “Clean Tony.”

– Tully


It’s not a huge deal, but I don’t know why they ever made the NCAA Tournament floors uniform. There was a certain charm to basketball being played on funky-looking neutral courts.

We’ll never forget that Tyus Edney’s buzzer-beater happened in Boise because of the floor. There were a couple orange Broncos on the hardwood and the area inside the three-point line was multi-colored.  Now what do we get? The name of the host city printed on the baselines? Where have the Broncos gone?


2:33 p.m.

I did most of my growing up in Hutchinson, which is less than an hour from Wichita, and yet I never went to a single Wichita State basketball game. We had season tickets to the Blue Dragons at HCC, and that was awesome. I cut my basketball teeth watching junior college basketball. A bunch of guys like Ricky Clemons going 9-for-23 every night.

Anyway, my perception of Wichita State as a 12-year-old: I’m not sure exactly what sort of basketball Wichita State plays, I just know it’s not the same as KU and K-State but it’s not the same as the Blue Dragons either. It’s probably some weird thing that only old ladies watch.

Not much has changed, honestly.

– Tully

2:28 p.m.

I ducked into the sports bar across the street to grab a mediocre tuna melt. One of two things is going on over there:

Either Zipps Sports Grill is the Phoenix headquarters for Wichita State fans or there is a group of about 15 people that share the same sophomoric sense of humor.

 “Dude, Shockers. Get it? It’s, like,  a euphemism for sticking your pinky in a girl’s butt. I know, bro. Totally hilarious. We should get shirts and hats and root for them. Because Shockers.”

WSU is going to win this game because Pitt hasn’t been any good since lovable doughboy point guard Lavance Fields left school. I loved that dude. I’m a bit of an expert on chubby guards. Love them. All of them. Always have. I’m sure there is one in this Tournament. As soon as I become aware of his existence, I’ll talk about him non-stop.

That brings us to this:

All-Time portly guard power rankings:

1. Khalid El- Amin (Connenticut)

2. Lavance Fields (Pitt)

3. Sherron Collins (Kansas)

4. Byron Eaton (Oklahoma State)



2:21 p.m.

Back in the day before television and radio, if your team won the championship but you didn’t know about it until you saw it in the newspaper the next day, would you still jump up and down freaking out?

– Tully

2:10 p.m.

Doug Gottlieb is all fired up about this elbow rule in college basketball and it reminds me that railing against some rule is one of the safest rhetorical positions you can find. You ALWAYS come off as noble and selfless when you speak out against a rule. You’re just concerned for the welfare of The Game. This new NFL rule about ballcarriers lowering their helmet is going to turn us all into little Mother Theresas.

– Tully

1:31 p.m.

Random thought: It seems like college basketball players are better clutch free throw shooters than they were 15-20 years ago. I have absolutely no statistical evidence to back up this thought, and I won’t strongly defend it, but it does seem to me that modern college basketball players are less fazed by heading to the line in the final minute than they were when I was a kid. It used to be that good foul shooters would “feel the pressure” in those situations and the results would be dramatic. Nowadays, it seems more like players shoot about as well in clutch situations as they do any other time.

If anybody has any evidence to prove or debunk this, I’d look at it.

Furthermore, and way more interestingly: If this is the case, Why is this the case? What has changed about college basketball players in one generation that makes them handle pressure better? I’m sure we can come up with all sorts of cockamamie theories about video games or The Internet or whatever. For example: When you play video games, even if they aren’t basketball games or sports games at all, you are placed into pressure situations at an almost overwhelming rate. From a young age now, kids are prepared to handle pressure. Granted, video games are not real life, but maybe you can get the same mental muscle memory from them.

– Tully

1:22 p.m.

I need to tell you that I am ashamed of what I’m about to write. And I need to point that out because I want you to know I am aware of how disgusting a person I am. But here goes:

I find it really annoying that I have to flip back and forth between CBS, TNT, TBS and TRUtv all day. It takes freaking forever. I don’t know the numbers for any of those channels so I just have to go on a hunt. And yes, I know, boo frickity hoo. File this under First World Problems. I am awful. I know this.

It’s just one of those minor inconveniences — like how you have to press the hotel TV remote buttons so damn hard — that really gets under my skin.

– Tully

12:54 p.m.

The guy wearing No. 31 for Wichita State is dating my friend’s sister, who happens to be a dancer at WSU.  I say “dating” because it’s the only tasteful way to describe what men and women do in college.

Sister-dater kind of looks like a floppy-haired asshole to me. But, hey, the power of athletics is strong in the dating world.

There also seem to be 90 people in the arena for this game. I can’t blame people for not showing, though. I covered the NCAA Tournament in Salt Lake City once, and a group of reporters were forced to drive 90 miles to Wendover, Nevada in search of something to do.

Plus, Wichita State is one of those schools. Nobody in Kansas really remembers it’s there unless the Shockers are playing in the NCAAs. Then it’s suddenly EMAS (Every Man a Shocker). The Shockers are a lot like pumpkins, really; totally useless for 11 months out of the year. But for a few weeks annually, people go berserk over the things.

WSU’s campus is located in a sketchy area of town, but there’s a great hipster bar called “Kirby’s Beer Store” (great name) across the street.


12:24 p.m

Holy Shit, the top songs of 1998 suck. What an awful year for music. This stuff is deplorable. I think I liked some of this stuff once, too.  That Offspring Song, “Pretty Fly for a White Guy”, is putrid. Also, I think I just heard Godsmack.

When I was in high school, we’d play Presidents and Assholes at parties. When you won a few games in a row, you’d get to make a rule. The go-to rule for my friends was to make a player speak like the corny-ass Godsmack lead singer for the duration of the game.  Guess you had to be there.

Anyway, Valpo and Michigan State are at the break and Butler is Butler-ing on TruTv. I bet fans of “World’s Wackiest Police Chases” are furious right now.


11:55 a.m

Man, Bryce Drew is an NCAA Tournament hero. On top of “the shot”, he has this Valpo team back in the event and is lauded as an important figure in college basketball history.

Meanwhile, his brother at Baylor has the bigger job and the better career. He’s also, fairly or not, labeled a cheater and one of the worst in-game coaches in the country. Oh, then there’s the whole thing about his peers hating him.

Quick anecdote:

When Frank Martin was the head coach at Kansas State, he used to tell me that he was forced to play mediator between Scott Drew and the rest of the Big 12 coaches. Martin could tolerate Drew. The two had some for of relationship.  He would relay everybody else’s fury to Drew and advise him on how to fix what he’d done.

That’s not really important here, though. Still, I often wonder if Scott would trade identities with Bryce if given the choice. He’d take a pay cut and vacate a ton of good wins but would be granted a fresh start and be universally loved. I don’t know Scott Drew well enough to say if that kind of stuff matters to him or not, but I think he’d at least give it some thought.

It’s a “Freaky Friday” reboot I would watch.


11:37 a.m.

What are the chances Bryce Drew is the coach at Valparaiso today if he misses that shot against Ole Miss in 1998? His father, Homer, was of course a legendary (?) coach at the school, so he had that going for him. His father is the one who hired him to be an assistant in 2005 (his first coaching job) and it was totally one of those bad HCIW (head coach in waiting) situations that basically never work out. I suppose it’s possible Valpo would have gone with him just because of his dad, but I have to think Valpo would have a lot harder time selling that to the boosters if he hadn’t made everyone so happy back in ’98.

So congrats to Bryce. I’m going to celebrate for him by listening to the top songs of 1998.

We got the dreamer’s disease.

– Tully

9:23 a.m.

Valpo and Michigan State are playing in Detroit. I can’t think of this arena without thinking of the time Ron Artest punched a fan.  The way this game is starting makes we wish Ron would show up with brass knuckles. At least it would give me something to talk about. Michigan State is missing layups and Valpo is air-balling open jumpers.

It seems obvious that the NCAA tournament model doesn’t work. They should just let No. 1 and No. 2 play each other on a Monday night and call it good. I’m sure there’s some kind of computer formula that can determine the participants.

– Rob

8:22 a.m:

I don’t consider myself to be a total moron.

Daylight savings time never fails to turn me into one, though. I never know when we’re on it and never know when the time change is coming. I have no idea if the world is on regular time or DST right now. No clue. There’s a chance this tournament tipped off last Tuesday.

Moving to Phoenix didn’t help. There is no daylight savings in Arizona. People here can’t be bothered to change a clock. There’s no time for that. There’s too much yoga, too many 50-50 raffles and there’s probably a sale on men’s tank tops at Pacific Sun. Sometimes we’re on Mountain Time. Sometimes we’re on Pacific Time. That’s all to say there’s a reason I’m awake and watching “CBS This Morning”.

Valpo and Michigan State get started in 30 minutes. Until then, it’s listening to news anchors feign excitement over a nine-year-old girl finding dinosaur remains.









The trash sandwich

Something new and fleetingly exciting has been happening in my house recently. I have stopped buying “formal” lunch meats. This isn’t to say there aren’t some in the fridge right now, but the wife is not much of a sandwich eater, and she goes most of the grocery shopping, so it is not uncommon for us to be totally out of what you might consider proper sandwich meats.

In years past, I might have taken steps to change this, but in years past I lived closer to the grocery store and, besides, I have found a way to turn lunch into a little dose of chaos. I have started making sandwiches out of whatever I happen to have laying around. I have started making “trash sandwiches.”

Most of them are not repeatable. For example, today our fridge included leftover cheese soup, a small bit of raw ground beef, a slice of leftover prosciutto, some havarti cheese, an onion and condiments. I turned these into a sandwich in the following manner:

1) Used cheese soup as an egg wash on the bun, seared bun face-down on skillet until cheese soup caramelized.

2) Pan-fried prosciutto.

3) Cooked ground beef patty on skillet.

4) Briefly touched the onion on skillet.

5) Melted havarti over beef.

6) Added condiments and combined into a sandwich.

This, as you might imagine, was delicious. My only regret is that I did not add a fried egg and some hot sauce, although that would have been one of those “how fat do you intend to get today?” decisions. Maybe I’ll save that for a weekend.

But this was not my finest work. My finest work was a sandwich that combined my homemade baked beans recipe, bacon, two unmelted chunks of brick cheese, a heavy slice of raw yellow onion and mustard. The key to this sandwich is the baked beans, and I know when I say “baked beans” you’re imagining a can of Van Camp’s on a piece of bread, or whatever gross combination of canned beans and barbecue sauce you’ve been served at family cookouts over the years. This is not that.


I’m not going to get all into the recipe, but it has several ingredients and the beans are actually baked for 2-3 hours, so that the end product is not at all runny.  Although the beans maintain their structural integrity, you can scoop it with a fork sort of the same way you can with mashed potatoes or potato salad.

It is a trash sandwich, but a totally delicious one, one I am confident Guy Fieri would describe as “money.” I will make it again.

The undying coolness of the BLT

I am at the forefront of the next tiny cultural renaissance, because I know and understand one thing: That which is complex and new and fancy is out, and that which is classic and reliable is in. The age of designer jeans, gourmet burgers and wine tastings is sooo 2007 housing bubble, and the age of regular-ol’ Levis, a decent piece of meat and cheese and Budweiser is the age for the common man, sent back down to earth with a newfound appreciation for that which has always been. That which can be trusted.

I am at the forefront of this, and here’s how I know:

Today for lunch I stood in my kitchen in Levis and a wifebeater, an I smoked a Winston, and I made myself a BLT.

That’s right. Bacon. Lettuce. And Tomato. Sandwich.


This is not the Team America World Police America. That’s ancient history. That America was the kind of place where you got your BLT topped with a cheeseburger and ate it with a dipping sauce made out of petroleum. I mean, people still do that, and it might even be “awesome,” but it isn’t cool anymore. What’s cool now are diners with not-that-large portions, where you get a piece of apple pie and a cup of black coffee and call that dinner, not desert. What’s cool now is a good, broken-in pair of shoes, some good-fitting pants and a shirt that’ll last you a while. With no dragons on it.

What’s cool now is, in essence, the BLT.

It took a weekend in Kansas City and Iowa for me to realize this. I went to a wedding in Ames recently, and while I was there I went to a hipster place that made a sandwich with peas on it. This place described its fare as Brazilian, and I assume it was, although I wouldn’t know any better. The sandwich was delicious. There’s no question about that. But it didn’t feel quite right. This was a place that should have been cool. It had all the markings of coolness and hipsters are all about being cool. But I just felt like … what are we trying to prove, here? That we can make a Brazilian sandwich in Ames, Iowa? That I am the kind of sophisticated person who can appreciate something so zany as peas on a sandwich? That’s nice, I suppose. I like variety. And I liked the sandwich. But it seemed pointlessly self-indulgent and narcissistic. And the reason it felt that way was this: There is no reason a Brazilian restaurant needs to exist in Ames, Iowa. Is there a robust Brazilian population there, pining for native cuisine? No. Is Brazilian food popular in the United States? No. Was this particular restaurant exceptionally good? No. The reason there is a Brazilian restaurant in Ames, Iowa is so people can tell other people they went to a Brazilian restaurant. It could have been anything and the effect would have been the same.

Now, I am not criticizing this restaurant or the people who go there. I hope it enjoys great success, and I will probably even go back if I ever visit Ames again. But then, the next day, I went to The Peanut in Kansas City. And I asked some friends what I ought to order, and the answer was pretty unanimous: Three wings and a BLT.

There is nothing wild about this BLT. It’s good B, cheddar cheese, mayo and LT on wheat bread. It’s a classic. And you know what? It’s the best sandwiches I’ve had in months. Because it is delicious, of course. It has bacon on it. But it is also the best because a good BLT means everything is OK, and there’s a lot to be said for that.

Yu Darvish: a look through the prism of sexy

Yu Davish, man. Yu Darvish.

I’ll need to see him throw a few pitches and do a few interviews before I solidify my stance, but I think I’m a superfan.

If you’re unaware of his existence, as I’m sure many are, allow me to fill you in here. Yu Darvish is the latest, greatest, Japanese baseball player to make the trip to America for a chance to play in the majors. The Texas Rangers paid a pile of money ($111 million) to sign him. He’ll make his debut this spring.

He’s already a big name in Japan and in American baseball circles. He’s twice been photographed wearing a shirt adorned with a giant pot leaf and doesn’t seem to speak much English.

The important part of this, though, is that he’s also apparently some kind of sex symbol. Or so I’ve recently been led to think.

My friend Mike was interviewed by a Japanese television station while having drinks in a Phoenix-area bar on Wednesday night. Said television station didn’t care about the pot leaf shirt. It wasn’t interested in what American baseball fans expect from the hyped pitcher when he takes the mound for the first time, either.

No, the female reporter simply jammed a camera in my buddy’s face and asked him if his girlfriend, who was seated next to him, would mind jumping in bed with Davish. (“Does your girlfriend think he’s hot,” was the exact wording.)

The lady also asked how Mike thought Darvish would “do with the ladies of Arizona” while in town for spring training.

This is interesting for a treasure chest full of reasons, but I’ll list two.

Reason No. 1: Here’s a picture of Yu Darvish:

It's the only shirt he brought with him to America.

Now I’m no expert judge when it comes to the male form, but this doesn’t look like a guy who should be inspiring this type of buzz. He’s no Ichiro Suzuki and he’s certainly no Tom Brady. He’s also not Randy Johnson, which is to say he isn’t ugly enough to make the line of questioning ironic.

Yu Darvish is, at best, a tweener — a regular rich dude who happens to be good at his job

In essence, the interview was the equivalent of me going over to Japan and asking people in bars about the sex appeal of — I don’t know — John Smoltz.

I’d expect the reaction to go something like this:

“Well, he’s a guy. He’s not offensive to look at, I guess. Wait. Why are you asking me this again? This is weird.”

Reason No. 2: It proves that, once again, the Japanese are ahead of the curve.

This time it’s journalism. We all know every player is in the “best shape of his life” before the season. We all know that the team’s chemistry is “better than ever” heading into the year.

What we don’t know is what percentage of half drunk girls in a Kansas City bar would do Bruce Chen. We don’t know where and when Jeff Francoeur lost his virginity.

And we sure as hell don’t know what Ned Yost’s favorite “position” is.

That’s where we in the American media have let everyone down. Might be time for us to take a cue from Japan. Might be time to insert a bit of sexy.

Guest Post: The Sausage Sundae

This is the first of many guest posts we hope to bring to you here at the Sandwich Blog. Stepping up to the plate first is The Daily’s Dan Wolken.

Guest Post By Dan Wolken

Most people are into ballpark food because they like to eat, which is perfectly reasonable. I like to eat, too. But when I cover games in stadiums I’ve never been to before, I attack the concession stands for an entirely different reason.

It’s my family’s business.

Since the 1930s, my family has been in the concession industry. At one time my great-grandfather, who started the company, even had the food and beverage contract for the Rose Bowl. For the most part, the company provided concession services for racetracks – mainly Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., and Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky. So even as a child, when I’d go to sporting events with my father, part of the experience was going around the entire stadium and surveying the concession stands. How they looked. What they offered. What kinds of prices they charged.

Even to this day, when I go to a new place, my dad asks me to send him cell phone pictures of concession stands so he can see what other people in the industry are doing.

I remember when I started in this business, it was like a really big deal to go to San Diego when the Padres played at Qualcomm Stadium and get their garlic fries. Now everyone’s got garlic fries. I know it’s hard to imagine now, but there was indeed a time when garlic fries were hard to come by at baseball stadiums.

In fact, most places – and baseball parks, in particular – have great food. The outfield plaza at the Mets’ Citi Field is probably the best I’ve ever seen with options ranging from Shake Shack burgers to a seafood stand to Blue Smoke BBQ (the Chipotle wings are amazing). At the new Yankee Stadium, they have a freaking butcher’s window where you can watch high-quality Lobel’s beef being aged before it becomes a $15 steak sandwich that is among the best things you could get anywhere.

But I saw something recently that tops anything I’ve ever seen at a sporting event – if not in taste, certainly in originality and (food) pornographic imagery.
Behold the “Sausage Sundae.”

Rarely do you find something at a stadium that you know you can’t live without trying. But as I walked through the concourse of The Ballpark at Arlington before Game 3 of the World Series, this thing stopped me in my tracks.

A smoked cracked pepper sausage, split open like a banana and filled with a scoop of mac-and-cheese, a scoop of chopped bar-b-que and a scoop of mashed potatoes with a hot pepper on top.

Yes, this was something I had to try.

I started digging in on the mashed potatoes side, which was kind of disappointing initially. I mean, mashed potatoes aren’t really that exciting. Even at a restaurant, if I ordered a bar-b-que plate, I would rarely choose mashed potatoes as a side. But I’ll admit, when you take a bit of them with the sausage, the texture of the potatoes makes more sense.

The bar-b-que was solid, not great. I kind of preferred to eat that either with a bite of the mac-and-cheese or the potatoes, but not with the sausage. The flavor combination just doesn’t work for me, perhaps because of the saltiness of the sausage, which was fantastic on its own, by the way.

Obviously, the mac-and-cheese was the star of this thing. You could eat a little bit with the bar-b-que, a little bit with the sausage. It was fantastic.

Overall, I was pleased with the dish, though it’s a little hard to eat for a ballpark. I appreciate the fact that they didn’t feel the need to shove any bread in there and try to make a sandwich out of it, which would’ve made it too heavy and too confusing. I also appreciate a dish where you don’t need any condiments (though some hot sauce would be perfectly appropriate). My suggestion would be to do two scoops of mac-and-cheese instead of the potatoes, but I’ll admit that the unique look with the different colors makes it look more like a “sundae” and is just kind of cool.

I think this would actually be a good idea for a bar-b-que restaurant to try, since they could do it with components that are even better quality than what you reasonably pull off in a ballpark.

It’s certainly one of the top-5 things I’ve ever eaten at a sporting event, and I highly recommend it for anyone who comes to a Texas Rangers game.