6.06.2005

I'm still waiting for my hot dog

I'm so happy about baseball. There's finally something interesting going on here in the summer.

Of course, we keep trying to screw up the simple state of "having a baseball team" in new and unusual ways that even I could not have predicted.

The battle for TV rights between the Orioles and Comcast continues, meaning only half the games show up on my TV. And today, the MASN network truck at RFK lost power and lost its feed of the game, resulting in an old rerun of "MASH" being shown at 1:30. ("MASH" is only one letter away from "MASN", so I guess that's why they picked it.) Coincidentally, the game was also not on Z104, because they apparently, for some reason, only broadcast night games. And I can't pick up the other station, 1050 AM (I'm not fully convinced it even exists), meaning that there was no way for me to see or listen to the game in the early innings today.

Surely this is some kind of Peter Angelos conspiracy.

At any rate, they won the game Sunday to take first place, which is just... astounding. I have almost nothing bad to say about the actual players (the only question marks being strange behavior by Byrd and Ohka this weekend). They've been surprisingly good.

The food service at RFK, to make an ironic transition, has been surprisingly bad. The company in charge, Aramark, has been the bane of my food-consuming existence throughout my life (they ran the food service, poorly, at my high school and college). And now they've brought that trademark crappiness to RFK, where any experience the company has had in providing food to masses of people seems to have been forgotten to the mists of time.

Personally, on opening day, I got in line for a hot dog at 6:30, and actually had to abort mission because the line had not moved, at all, 10 minutes later.

Then, a few weeks ago, the mere act of getting a couple sodas and some Cracker Jack proved to be one of the most challenging undertakings of my life. First, the concession stand I went to did not have any hot dogs prepared, because apparently the workers had forgotten to put more on the cooker after running out. One employee walked back down the line of customers saying, "We're out of hot dogs." They had done the same thing with the pretzels.

This was especially funny because the stand was being manned by three Aramarkians: two slack-jawed worker dudes who looked like they were totally out of it, and one flustered lady who was apparently the manager. Manager Lady would yell at the Worker Dudes for not putting the hot dogs out... but then, bizarrely, she would just stand in between them as they took orders, not actually lifting a finger to help them or speed up the whole food-serving process. Pretty funny. Then, the sequence of events for me getting my food was the capper:

1. I order a soda, a diet soda, and a Cracker Jack.
2. Worder Dude struggles to find right keys for that on his register.
3. Worker Dude takes my money.
4. Worker Dude figures my change and gives it to me. So far, this has taken about a minute and a half.
5. Worker Dude asks what kind of sodas I ordered; I remind him.
6. WD slowly fills up cups, one at a time.
7. Another two minutes later, sodas are filled! Celebration!
8. WD says, "I'll go get your popcorn" and walks away.
9. I hurriedly yell out "Cracker Jack! Cracker Jack!"
10. WD says "Oh yeah" and gives it to me.

Total time elapsed: half my life. I missed a good inning and a half, at least. And this was the game where the grounds crew was unable to pull the tarp over the infield during a rain delay, resulting in the game being called due to a flooded infield. Nats win, Mets protest. That's got to be one of the most hilarious baseball moments I've ever witnessed in person.

All in all, one of my biggest fears about having baseball baseball here -- namely, our inability to separate politics from anything -- hasn't really come true. Until last Friday night. My wife and I had given ourselves the yellow-to-purple seat upgrade, and from my vantage point I saw a little black guy with a bow tie in the mezzanine box to the right of the press box. Who else could it be but The Bowtie? Sure enough, later on Screech the mascot and a video camera showed up so that the mayor could do some mugging.

I will say this: I do give the mayor credit for sitting through an entire 11-inning game. I know he stayed to the end because, as fate would have it, he was walking down the same ramp I was after the game, not too far in front of me. And other people noticed, and shouted nice things at him.

"Hey mayor!"

Tony gives a little wave.

"Thanks for bringing us baseball, mayor!" (ugh) says one woman. Tony waves again. This happened four or five times.

Wow. The Bowtie's scrawny head grew three sizes that day. (I tried yelling "Why don't you stand up to Congress once in a while?" but didn't see him give a wave to that. Oh well.)

So there you go. That sums up Tony, I think; he's willing to take credit for baseball and will try to ride that to re-election, despite whatever other recurring problems D.C. might have.

But despite the political pandering and the lack of media exposure and the undercooked $5 hot dogs... baseball. Yay, baseball.

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