Opening Day and hot dogs

For years, at two different employers, I had a Tuesday-through-Saturday work week. One of the few times I miss that schedule is on Opening Day Monday, when the MLB Extra Innings package is free on DirecTV, and it is thus possible to watch local baseball coverage all day. At least I get home from work around 4:15 (Pacific time), so I’ll be able to watch much of the “prime time” games. Tomorrow night, I’ll definitely be watching the Rays’ home opener — I think this may be the first time they’ve ever opened the season at home, albeit shoved to Tuesday, probably so their proximity wouldn’t taint last night’s Red Sox-Yankees game. (Incidentally, the L.A. Times baseball writer actually picked the Rays to finish first in the AL East.)

And as seen on The Consumerist: since hot dogs and baseball go together like, um, hot dogs and buns, here’s a press release from the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council with more details than you’d ever thought possible about ballpark hot dog and sausage menu options and consumption. I can definitely vouch for the Fenway Frank and, especially, the Dodger Dog. I cannot vouch for the hot dogs served at Wrigley Field, which aren’t very good — I suspect the reason they sell so many is that there aren’t a lot of other food options at Wrigley Field, particularly

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at the upper-deck concession stands.

Many of the “specialty” dogs mentioned in the press release sound good to me — but not necessarily while I’m at a baseball stadium, where I don’t particularly want to get hot dog toppings all over myself. I’m happy with just mustard (and I prefer “spicy brown” to yellow), and maybe onions.

Opening Day: Coda

Some of the posts below have been updated with illustrative screenshots. Not to be confused with the photographs-of-a-television-screen that have been used here in the past, these are literal screenshots — each a single frame of broadcast television video, provided through the courtesy of my recently hacked TiVo.

And we do it all to make you smile.

P.S.: Yankees 15, A’s 2 (still not as many runs as

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the Cubs!).

Opening Day: Hour 10

7:00 — New

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York Yankees at Oakland A’s (ESPN 2 and YES)
7:10 — Johnny Damon’s visage is filling me with melancholy. I’m out.

Opening Day: Hour 9

6:09 — The last instruction on the packet of McCormick taco seasoning is “Serve with toppings, if desired.” I’m sure there are people who don’t desire toppings on their tacos, but I don’t think I want to meet them.
6:10 — Hey, I got a message from DirecTV: “Stop writing about our negotiations with SportsNet New York.”
6:11 — No, seriously, it’s promoting the fact that their phone system is now an interactive voice response system. Good thing I call them so rarely.
6:12 — Meanwhile, the Astros have the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh.
6:20 — I forgot — I generally desire to put in the lettuce first and then the cheese, but I did it backward. These tacos are ruined!
6:21 — Something must have happened while I was busying myself with taco preparation, because the Astros now have a 1-0 lead.
6:24 — I swear the announcer says the Giants are putting Jeremy Pardo into the game, and I try to think of a couple good jokes relating to “Saturday Night Live” (as opposed to good “Saturday Night Live” jokes, which are few and far between), but it turns out his name is actually Jeremy Accardo.
6:25 — One of the Astros announcers says that the Rockies are leading the Diamondbacks 3-2 in the 11th. That game ended two hours ago. Apparently, during the offseason, someone has forgotten what it means if you get a score update showing the home team leading in the ninth inning or later, even if it doesn’t expressly say “final.”
6:38 — It ends in a double play in Houston: Astros 1, Marlins 0.
6:39 — Meanwhile, it’s likely Barry Bonds’s last at-bat of the day in San Diego, and he’s out 4-3 (the second baseman playing very deep). No home runs for Barry today!
6:40 — Moises Alou drops a double into center field, just out of reach for Dave Roberts.
6:42 — Pedro Feliz is out 6-3, it’s Padres 6, Giants 1, and I’ve got no baseball to watch for the next 18 minutes! I’ll see you on the other side…

Opening Day: Hour 8

5:03 — Angels go ahead 5-3 in the top of the ninth.
5:13 — Roberto Petagine hits a pinch-hit home run for the Mariners, and it’s now 5-4 with one out in the bottom of the ninth.
5:18 — Los Angeles, or perhaps Anaheim, wins: Angels 5, Mariners 4.
5:19 — I only have two games to watch now. Giants and Padres tied at 1, Marlins and Astros tied at 0. I’m paying more attention to Giants-Padres.
5:21 — And now both games are in commercial. It would be more fun if there were more Bay Area or Houston-specific commercials, but no such luck.
5:31 — Vital bottom-of-the-screen ticker as the Padres take the lead 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth: “The Sharks @ Dallas game is airing live right now on FSN Plus on Comcast digital cable channel 410 and on analog channels 11, 14, 27, 32, 33, 69 or 77, 655 on DirecTV and 453 on Dish Network. The Sharks game will also be joined in progr–” and then the ticker disappears at the end of the inning so that they can switch to an exterior shot of American Airlines Center in Dallas (with the light rail going by!) and the announcer essentially saying the same thing as the ticker — but fortunately for everyone, he doesn’t have to read off those channel numbers. This is all because FSN doesn’t have a full-time second channel in the Bay Area the way they do in L.A.
5:36 — No, wait, now the Giants announcer has to read off those channel numbers. Wow.
5:38 — And the announcers spend two minutes joking about having to read off all those channel numbers (specifically, the fact that the music bed almost ran out).
5:40 — Barry Bonds flies out to center and is soundly booed.
5:48 — The honking vehicle is back, but honking from slightly farther away than before.
5:49 — Khalil Greene hits a 2-run homer to put the Padres up 4-1. The ball is caught by a guy who wore a brown monk’s robe to the game. He’s not fully dedicated to the Padres, though. He has not cut his hair — in fact, he has long, luscious, curly locks of the type that I’d probably have if I let my hair grow, ladies.
5:58 — I think the last few innings of the two games currently in progress would be best enjoyed with tacos. I’ll go make some right now!

What, you thought I was making up those channel numbers? I would never joke about something so serious…

Opening Day: Hour 7

4:00 — Florida Marlins at Houston Astros (FSN Houston)
4:00 — San Francisco Giants at San Diego Padres (ESPN 2 and FSN Bay Area)
4:01 — The National League champion Astros are being feted at Enron Field — I mean Minute Maid Park — before the game.
4:03 — Jon Miller and Joe Morgan are back on TV after having stayed up very late last night. I’m not sure if they even know where they are right now (San Diego).
4:11 — Former Devil Ray Danys Baez is in the game for the Dodgers in the top of the ninth. Vin Scully helpfully spells his name for the benefit of the radio listeners. The “S” is silent, you know. Hmm, how’s his belt?
4:16 — Danys Baez held the Braves scoreless in the top of the ninth, so now the Dodgers need to provide some offense.
4:17 — Jake Peavy of the Padres retires the Giants in order in the top of the first, so Barry Bonds will lead off the top of the second.
4:19 — Bonds makes a catch for an out in left field and is soundly booed.
4:21 — It went final in Colorado: Rockies 3, Diamondbacks 2 (11 innings).
4:22 — The Dodgers made it up to 11-10 with 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth — and Olmedo Saenz hit a 5-3 grounder to end the game (a leaping throw by Chipper Jones certainly helped). Braves 11, Dodgers 10.
4:24 — In Petco Park, where it’s hard to hit home runs, Barry Bonds leads off the second inning with a ground-rule double.
4:36They reached the agreement — no DirecTV logo for Wednesday’s Mets game.
4:48 — I’m posting a little less here because I’m trying to catch up on a message board and watch baseball simultaneously. The Angels and Mariners are still tied at 3 in the top of the ninth, and there was just a loud train whistle to mark Cesar Izturis getting a base on balls — authentic, unlike any train whistles that may be heard at Enron Field — I mean Minute Maid Park.

As far as I’m concerned, Texas is a strange and bizarre alternate universe where highways have numbers starting with “FM” (and car dealerships are named after game show producers)…

Opening Day: Hour 6

3:00 — No game starting this hour.
3:05 — What looks like dust is getting in the way of the centerfield camera on the Tigers-Royals game, but it may well be mist from the outfield fountain.
3:10 — For the last 10 minutes, a vehicle on the street in front of my apartment building has been occasionally honking its horn, as if the driver is waiting for someone who has not arrived at the vehicle yet. Doesn’t everyone have cell phones now that they can use instead of a horn?
3:18 — One of my neighbors yelled, “Lay off the horn!” This is slightly more interesting than the Dodgers game, in which the Braves are now leading 10-5.
3:20 — The vehicle with the horn is gone. The yelling worked!
3:26 — Every year about this time, I get some kosher-for-Passover Coca-Cola, and every year I forget that because I’m used to regular Coke sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, the kosher Coke sweetened with sucrose has what I perceive to be a weird aftertaste. Also, it’s foamier than regular Coke.
3:28 — Oh, yeah, it was Cardinals 13, Phillies 5. 3 runs fewer than the Cubs!
3:34 — The Angels were leading 3-0 at one point, but now the Mariners have tied things up in the bottom of the 5th.
3:43 — Attendance at today’s Dodgers game is announced as 56,000, which happens to be the exact capacity of Dodger Stadium. Hmm… According to Vin Scully, it’s never been that high for a regular-season game before. (But I happen to know it’s been higher for postseason games, which is a neat trick.)
3:44 — Many of those 56,000 have already left, and even more start to stream out after Ryan “Islets of” Langerhans puts the Braves up 11-5 with a solo home run.
3:47 — I really haven’t been paying attention to this one, since it’s the other game not available in DirecTV’s MLB Extra Innings package today, but I happen to see on the Dodger Stadium out-of-town scoreboard that the Diamondbacks and Rockies are tied at 2 in the 10th inning. Only 2 runs apiece at Coors Field? They must have lowered its altitude during the off-season.
3:49 — Speaking of which, I take a quick look at this webcam — looks like the new Busch Stadium is all ready to go for its opening game a week from today.
3:54 — Wow, the Royals seem to be entirely composed of people I remember from other teams — one of them, Reggie Sanders, grounds into a 6-3 play, and the game goes final as Tigers 3, Royals 1.
3:57 — Olmedo Saenz of the Dodgers pretends to have been hit by a pitch. No one is fooled, but the ploy apparently rattles Braves pitcher Blaine Moyer enough that Saenz hits a 2-run single after

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heading back home. Now the Dodgers are only down 11-7.

Opening Day: Hour 5

2:00 — Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Seattle Mariners (FSN West)
2:00 — Confirmed that FSN West is still FSN West, at least until they decide to rename themselves FSN Z Channel.
2:01 — The weather looks pretty nice in Seattle, too.
2:02 — Finally, in Baltimore, the bottom of the fifth comes to an end with the Orioles leading 7-4.
2:03 — The Dodgers are on the board! It’s 4-1.
2:04 — Vin Scully is being simulcast on the radio, I am reminded when he says “on television, we’re looking at…”, which continues the old-timey feeling.
2:06 — I finally see a score for the Cardinals-Phillies game, not being carried by DirecTV’s MLB Extra Innings package. The Cards must be trying to outdo the Cubs in runs scored — it’s 13-3 in the sixth.
2:07 — As the family of rookie Devil Rays pitcher Johnny Childers is being interviewed in the stands, Travis Lee hits a 2-run homer into a different part of the stands, and the Rays have cut the Orioles’ lead to 1.
2:10 — Hmm, I wonder if that Japanese ad for “Nintendo DS Lite” behind home plate at Safeco Field indicates that this game is being shown in Japan. I mean, there must be a few people who speak Japanese in the Seattle area.
2:14 — It’s the bottom of the ninth in Arlington, and the Rangers are keeping it interesting with a couple of hits.
2:15 — I’ve been forgetting to watch the Tigers-Royals game. Their Aflac trivia answer was Kenny Rogers, presumably meaning the starting pitcher for the Tigers and not the roasted-chicken impresario.
2:18 — Another final: Red Sox 7, Rangers 3.
2:19 — I’m getting the “for ordering information, call…” notice on that channel, so the Pirates-Brewers game must have gone final while I wasn’t paying attention to that one. Yes: Brewers 5, Pirates 2.
2:20 — It’s the bottom of the eighth in Cincinnati, and a lot of fans have left the ballpark, even though the Reds are only down by 5.
2:26 — Vin Scully: “You know how you dress up the house when company’s coming? Well, they have dressed up Dodger Stadium — and the company’s here!”
2:27 — But they obviously haven’t installed cell phone jammers at Dodger Stadium, as a quick look at the fans sitting right behind home plate makes all too clear.
2:28 — They also haven’t dressed up the Dodgers enough, as Atlanta gets another run to go up 5-1.
2:29 — Reds relief pitcher Rick White is wearing number 00. I like him almost

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as much as Brandon Watson.
2:30 — And then there’s Cubs rookie outfielder Angel Pagan. I wonder which god (or gods) he worships.
2:33 — The Cubs are up to 13 runs — same number of runs the Cardinals currently have.
2:34 — Now the Orioles are ahead 9-6, and the Braves are ahead 8-1.
2:35 — A Devil Rays promo promises that this season, they will be “bringing endless energy every single game.” I’ll believe it when I see it.
2:37 — The Cubs have now equaled their run total from last year’s Opening Day, which was a Cubs Opening Day record. It’s 16-7.
2:39 — Now I hear that Albert Pujols had home runs in his first two at-bats — but he’s no Tuffy!
2:40 — I assume the roof is closed at Safeco Field so the wind doesn’t mess up the “2006” spelled out in light-colored dirt on the infield.
2:42 — The Orioles’ costumed mascot has black wings with orange tips on his back, which I guess is semi-accurate, except that they look like the hand-held lights that are used to direct airplane pilots into the proper stopping position.
2:43 — Joe Maddon has changed from sunglasses to his regular glasses. Now the Rays need to come back to win, so that retro-hipster eyewear is encouraged.
2:46 — The Dodgers are slowly working their way out of the hole: it’s now 8-4.
2:47 — Okay, there may be lots of people on cell phones at Dodger Stadium, but at least they’re blase enough not to wave like an idiot when they’re on camera, unlike a certain man in the third row in Cincinnati.
2:48 — His waving like a maniac didn’t help, because the final is Cubs 16, Reds 7.
2:53 — It’s the top of the ninth in Baltimore with the Devil Rays down by 3 runs.
2:56 — The Rays are unable to come back. Orioles 9, Devil Rays 6. Oh, well, it’s still possible for them to finish 161-1.

That Japanese ad at Safeco Field…

Opening Day: Hour 4

1:00 — Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers (FSN Prime Ticket)
1:00 — Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals (FSN Detroit)
1:00 — It’s final in New York: Mets 3, Nationals 2. That DirecTV logo is still there. And that means it’s time to, yes, activate the blackout on ESPN. I’m being forced to watch the Dodgers on FSN Prime Ticket…
1:01 — …so let’s see if we can get this straight. First there was a local cable movie network called Z Channel. Eventually, they added Dodgers games and became Z Plus. Then they got rid of the movies and became Prime Ticket. I’ve got a Los Angeles TV Guide from 1995 that calls it “Prime Sports,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean that was their actual name. Then they became part of the Fox Sports family and became Fox Sports West. Then Fox added a second channel, which they called Fox Sports West 2, and moved the Dodgers to the second channel so they could get both carried by cable operators. Then Fox thought people might not know they were a network, so they became Fox Sports Net West and Fox Sports Net West 2. Then Fox got tired of always saying “Fox Sports Net,” so they became FSN West and FSN West 2. And as of today, FSN West is still FSN West, but FSN West 2 has become, yes, FSN Prime Ticket. Fox Sports’ web site acknowledges this in that they don’t show any listings for today for FSN West 2, but they don’t seem to offer listings for FSN Prime Ticket.
1:08 — While I was typing up that long explanation that probably put everyone but me to sleep, the Devil Rays went up 4-2 in the top of the third. I like them again.
1:13 — FSN Prime Ticket’s audio level is about as low as MASN’s, which is making it hard to hear Vin Scully as he talks about the umpires getting a flat tire on the way to the game. But you don’t have to hear Vin Scully to see the new pastel color scheme at Dodger Stadium — it’s 1962 all over again!
1:16 — Also, for some reason, although they’ve successfully got the FSN Prime Ticket logo at the top of the screen in some of the camera shots, they don’t have the score strip at the top of the screen. It’s 1962 all over again!
1:18 — The Milwaukee Braves — I mean, the Atlanta Braves; I somehow got the impression that it was 1962 — have a 4-0 lead in the top of the first.
1:20 — While I was trying to figure out the FSN Prime Ticket situation, the Cubs went up 11-5 in Cincinnati, and they still have the bases loaded with no outs in the top of the sixth. Clearly, part of a plan to outdo their crosstown rivals and the 10 runs in their opener last night.
1:25 — Alas, a check of my e-mail informs me that friend of and Cardinals fan Rachel (she was one of the attendees at this Angels-Devil Rays game last year) will soon be moving out of Los Angeles and back to her home state of Illinois.
1:30 — FSN Prime Ticket got their score strip working. There is no need to panic. What their logo actually says is “Prime FSN Ticket,” I notice, so perhaps that’s what I’ll call them from now on.
1:31 — As always, every time Vin Scully finishes a sentence, I expect someone else to start talking, but no one ever does. It is quite a refreshing change from every other baseball game, particularly those featuring Tim McCarver.
1:33 — Back on February 22, Vin Scully signed a contract extension that will keep him as the Dodgers broadcaster through the 2008 season, when he claims he’ll retire. At the press conference to announce this, he said he liked it better when the Dodgers had the names on the back of their uniforms. Team chairman Frank McCourt immediately vowed that the names would be back in 2007. There must be some bizarre reason why he couldn’t bring the names back for 2006 — probably part of the same agreement that required that “used with permission” disclaimer I remarked upon back at 10:18 A.M.
1:35 — Wait a minute, it’s pronounced “Nessen” and not “N-E-S-N”? Yikes.
1:43 — Luis Matos and Melvin Mora hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the fifth, and the Orioles now lead 5-4. There’s the Devil Rays we know and love!
1:48 — The top of the third in the Dodgers game begins with a look at the new new seats in Dodger Stadium, which are literal box seats, complete with a little table.
1:50 — Long line for Dodger Dogs at the concession stand. Mmm, a Dodger Dog would be even tastier than those potato chips and onion dip I had an hour and a half ago. But I have no hot dogs, just ground beef for tacos.
1:52 — Now it’s looking sunny in Milwaukee, except for the Pirates, who are down 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth. I assume the Miller Park roof is closed, but the sunlight is coming through the glass. That’s something Tropicana Field could use — windows! But it’d probably be impossible to cut into the walls to add them now.
1:54 — An ad for “Scary Movie 4,” directed by David Zucker — and starring Craig Bierko, who I’ve closed-captioned on “Days of Our Lives.” Um, I think I’ll wait until it’s on HBO or perhaps Showtime, where I’m sure it will be shown while DirecTV is having a free weekend (that’s how I saw “Scary Movie 3” recently).
1:58 — Clearly, baseball hasn’t been engrossing me enough if I’m thinking about Craig Bierko.

The new Prime FSN Ticket logo (seen at upper right) scares kids in the stands at Dodger Stadium…

Opening Day: Hour 3

12:00 — Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Baltimore Orioles (FSN Florida)
12:00 — Hooray, they’re using FSN Florida’s coverage of the Devil Rays-Orioles game, so I get to see their opening reel of highlights from last season. 45 seconds later, it’s time for the game!
12:01 — And another

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technical flub: a graphic at the bottom of the screen says “Marlins Baseball.” I’m sure under normal circumstances, FSN would wish it were something other than the Devil Rays, but this season, the Rays may well have a better year than the Marlins.
12:02 — Full disclosure: I’m wearing my Devil Rays Rocco Baldelli T-shirt.
12:05 — As seen during the “Devil Rays baseball is brought to you by…” billboards, Quikrete has a special Opening Day logo that someone took about 5 seconds to draw. So was Opening Day built by The Home Depot out of Quikrete?
12:06 — It’s Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon and his retro hipster glasses, which are no doubt reminding many Devil Rays fans of the glasses their kids or grandkids wore back in the 1950s.
12:09 — The Devil Rays’ first batter of the year, Julio Lugo, hits a double off the Camden Yards right-field scoreboard. Cubs vs. Devil Rays in the World Series!
12:11 — Scott Hatteberg hits a 3-run homer for the Reds, so now the Cubs are only leading 5-4. Well, maybe it’ll be Devil Rays-Cardinals or something.
12:13 — Julio Lugo scores on a sacrifice fly, and the announcer claims that it’ll give “fans who are watching on the big board at Tropicana Field something to cheer about.” Given the usual attendance at Tropicana Field when the Devil Rays are actually playing there, I’m picturing a large, cavernous space with plenty of elbow room. But maybe I’m underestimating the level of Rays excitement in the Tampa Bay area, given the new ownership and team manager.
12:17 — Wait a minute — this whole time while the DirecTV logo has been on Channel 744 instead of SportsNet New York’s coverage of the Mets-Nationals game, Channel 745 has been showing the MASN coverage of the Mets-Nationals game.
12:19 — Boo to Southwest Airlines for referring to “Tampa Bay” when they really mean “Tampa,” unless they’ve outfitted their 737s as seaplanes and I’m unaware of it. (In the past, other airlines have used a similar trick to disguise the fact that they fly into St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport — but Southwest, being an airline you’ve heard of, actually does serve Tampa International Airport.)
12:25 — MASN’s audio level is very low. The classic rock accompanying the DirecTV logo is much easier to hear. Incidentally, MASN is not to be confused with “M*A*S*H,” or the NASL.
12:33 — MASN presents the “Chevy Drive of the Game,” in the bottom of the seventh. Someday there are going to be so many sponsorships sold during baseball telecasts that it’ll be something like this: “And the first pitch of the game — in there for a strike! And now the Hostess Twinkies Pitch of the Game…”
12:34 — Jonny Gomes leads off the top of the second for the Devil Rays with a home run. I’m liking these 2006 Devil Rays so far.
12:40 — While I haven’t been paying attention, the Red Sox have gone up 5-0 on the Rangers.
12:45 — Well, now Joe Maddon is wearing non-retro sunglasses, although it’s kind of a hazy day in Baltimore. I know this because he came out to briefly suggest to the umpire that he might want to watch for fan interference if there are any future ground balls that carom down the left-field line. He should be talking to the Camden Yards security people — there’s a very good replay showing a fair ball encountering 1) a hat, and 2) a beer.
12:51 — The Orioles have scored two runs in the bottom of the second. These 2006 Devil Rays are impressing me a little less right now.
12:55 — And now it’s 5-5 in Cincinnati. So maybe the Cubs and Devil Rays won’t make the World Series after all.
12:56 — We’re in the top of the ninth in New York with the Mets leading 3-2. I do like the Nationals’ away uniforms.
12:59 — Nobody’s IMing me, perhaps because I’m the only one watching baseball on a day when normal people are at their jobs.

Devil Rays announcers going undercover…

The special Quikrete Opening Day logo…