Category Archives: Sports

Only in Miami: 160 tropical fish qualify for room and board at a stadium

The 2012 Major League Baseball Season will kick off with its first domestic game of the year as the Miami Marlins will host the St. Louis Cardinals. The game will be played at Marlins Park, a brand spankin’ new stadium located in the Little Havana section of Miami, Florida.

Most fans will be watching the action on the diamond, but other observers will be eyeing the new permanent residents of the stadium. These tenants are 160 tropical fish that are now living in dual 450 gallon fish tanks that are positioned on either side of home plate.

I’ve never been accused of hugging a tree, but there’s something about this whole situation that just seems… well… fishy.

The ballclub isn’t concerned that a misplaced ball will crack or shatter the tanks because they were constructed using bullet-proof acrylic and other similarly impregnable materials. I’m pretty sure that the broader concerns, however, relate to the effects of noise and vibrations generated by tens of thousands of rowdy sports fans and a cutting-edge sound system. Activists are concerned that this environment will critically affect the health of the fish, although the organization believes that neoprene shock absorbers will minimize the impact of the noise and stadium vibrations.

I’m not necessarily sure what to make of the issue, although I will admit that at the very least it would be kind of creepy to share popcorn and cracker jacks with a handful of sea horses and anemones. Here’s the conceptual art and a photograph; judge for yourself:

##

Peanuts and Cracker Jacks? Baseball weighs in with an eight pound burger, a two foot hotdog and a three pound pretzel

Earlier this month, the Washington Nationals unveiled the StrausBurger, a hefty hamburger composed of ground brisket, chuck and short ribs topped with a heck of a lot of condiments.  The damn thing weighs in at around 8 pounds and contains somewhere in the neighborhood of 8,000 to 10,000 calories.

Ironically, the sandwich is named after Stephen Strausburg, a lanky young pitcher who looks like he’s never eaten a hamburger, much less a ball of meat that weighs as much as the human head.

Nolan Ryan, the competitive owner of the Texas Rangers, is obviously not impressed with the StrausBurger.  Earlier this week, his team introduced the Champion Dog, a 2 foot hotdog served on a virtual loaf of bread that weighs in at around a pound.  The monstrosity is complimented by sauteed onions, shredded cheese, chili, jalapenos, and, of course, a side order of french fries.  As you can tell from this picture, it’s about as big as a baseball bat.

Steve Peterson, President of Classic Foods, the producer of the meat used in the Champion Dog, was obviously excited.  When referring to the surreal combination of meat trimmings, fat, flavorings and preservatives, he claimed that it was “the next ka-pow.”  I’m still not sure if he was referring to the hot dog, the 2,000 to 3,000 calories contained in the meal, or its $26 price tag.

It’s not the first time that the Texas Rangers have offered fans the opportunity to stick a foot in the grave.  In 2010, the Ballpark at Arlington began serving a pretzel that tipped the scales at an absurd 3 pounds and topped the charts at between 3,400 and 3,700 calories.  It’s served with a modest sampling of marinara sauce, honey mustard dressing and nacho cheese and served in a cardboard pizza box. At the end of the day, it weights nearly as much as a chihuahua

Ballpark Operations Manager Casey Rapp explained the twisted reasoning behind the knot-shaped combination of flour and salt by reasoning that “[l]ast year during the playoffs, we said, ‘We gotta come up with something that’s bigger than anything else, that really signifies Texas.'”

Mr. Rapp certainly hit a home run – no pun intended – because everything really is bigger in Texas.  Including people.  For those of you keeping score, Arlington – the home of the Texas Rangers – now ranks as the 15th fattest city in the entire country.  Over 35 percent of the city’s population is clinically obese, which is the second highest rate in the entire freakin’ country.

Surprised?

(And before all the southerners call foul… yes, I live in Texas.  I used to live in Arlington.  But I’m still alive)

##

On a slow news day, correspondents author stories about athletes exercising until they puke

It’s that time of year again.  Pitchers and catchers have already reported, hungry rookies are trying to earn a spot in the majors and aging veterans are scratching and clawing to hold on to their jobs.  Baseball is in full swing, and the countdown to opening day is well underway.

It’s also the time of year where the 24-hour-news cycle demands that local beatwriters and correspondents break news about local teams.  That’s not necessarily as easy as it may sounds.  Absent a handful of trades, a few injuries and a certain arbitration hearing, the early days of spring training aren’t the most fertile ground for compelling stories about local franchises.   Major leaguers are simply arriving at facilities, running around the diamond, playing catch and taking batting practice. Uh… woohoo?

Not surprisingly, in the collective wasteland of lackluster events, local correspondents are more than willing to author stories about sluggers exercising until they puke.

I’m talking about you, J.D. Martinez.  The 24-year-old Astros outfielder recently explained that he hired a personal trainer to help with his conditioning.  Martinez selected Nick Casazza, because the slugger wanted a trainer to use a program that would cause him to vomit.  From the Ultimate Astros blog:

“I told him, ‘If you don’t make me puke in the first week, I’m not going to come back’ ” Martinez said.

Nick Casazza needed about 10 minutes to accomplish that.

“When he went outside and threw up, he was looking at me like I was the craziest person he ever met in his life,” Casazza said. “But you know what? The kid showed up the next day. He kept coming back. I said, ‘This guy is the real deal.’ ”

Martinez, 24, remembers that first week for “puking everywhere” and for this: “I knew then he was going to be the trainer I was going to be with.”

Uh… J.D….  Nick… your realize that you can get in pretty darn good shape without puking, right?  It’s probably not the best of ideas unless, of course, you’re recycling last night’s StrasBurger.

##

The National Pastime: Peanuts, Cracker Jacks and… an EIGHT POUND hamburger?

Stephen Strasburg is bringing hope to baseball fans in our nation’s capital.  The highly-touted 23-year-old pitcher for the Washington Nationals has taken the mound seventeen times over the past two years, limiting opponents to a .211 batting average while recording 116 strikeouts, .98 WHIP and 2.40 ERA.  Loosely translated, he’s pretty darn good, and the peripheral statistics suggest that he should develop into a perennial All-Star.

The lanky phenom has a new claim to fame: the organization is now cleverly marketing a hamburger dubbed “the StrasBurger” as a homage to the pitcher.  The burger is sold at the Red Porch Restaurant, located in the Center Field Plaza of Nationals Park.  It almost makes too much sense: hungry fans can eat a Strasburger while watching Strasburg.

So far so good… except… the StrasBurger weighs in at EIGHT POUNDS.  It consists of a virtual buffet of ground brisket, chuck and short ribs, topped with an unidentified “special sauce” and a smorgasbord of condiments – and, of course, it’s complimented by a basket of french fries and a pitcher of a soft drink.  When served, the StrasBurger weighs about as much as 32 Quarter Pounders and slightly more than the average newborn baby.

Prepare to be surprised: the StrasBurger is a pretty darn unhealthy dish.  Colleen Greg, a Registered Dietitian who specializes in adult and pediatric weight management and cardiovascular nutrition, provided NBC Washington with the following breakdown:

the StrasBurger is somewhere between 8,000-10,000 calories, packs 600-700 grams of fat, 200-300 grams of saturated fat and 2,500-3,000 milligrams of sodium. It seems that the Nationals are advertising the burger as something to be shared, but even then, it still packs a wallop….  If the burger is split four ways, each person’s portion would therefore be at least 2,000 calories, 150 grams of fat, 50 grams saturated fat and 625 mg of sodium… All of these are higher than what many, if not most, people need in an entire DAY, except for sodium.

What ever happened to peanuts and Cracker Jacks?

##

EXTREME SPORTS: have unusual diets, candy bars and sugary nuggets of bliss resulted in record-breaking success?

Herschel Junior Walker was a heck of a football player. He set a high school record by scoring 86 touchdowns and added another 5,259 rushing yards during three seasons at the University of Georgia. He was a set 10 NCAA records, was a three time All American, won the Heisman Trophy and was later named to the College Football Hall of Fame. Herschel also enjoyed a productive and successful professional football career, busting tackles and dodging defenders in both the United States Football League and the National Football League, where he played for the Dallas Cowboys, the the Minnesota Vikings, the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants.

The man has appeared on the cover of nine editions of Sports Illustrated. Nine! Enough said.

You’d think that Herschel would have adhered to a restrictive diet complimented by enough supplements to make the average person radiate a glowing hue of chartreuse. Not so. In fact, at one point while he was steamrolling through the collegiate ranks, he ate nothing but candy bars. Herschel recently described how Snickers, being packed with peanuts and other junk, really satisfies:

I remember when I was at the University of Georgia, I started eating Snickers bars. I actually loved candy bars and I ate Snickers bars. For almost a month and a half, that was my one meal of the day was Snickers bars. And I was fine. Nothing ever changed. I worked out. I had the energy… I went out and did what I was supposed to do and I don’t know whether you’re naive or stupid, that God just takes care of you because I wasn’t thinking about all the cholesterol, all the calories, all this. All I was thinking about was getting my job done… It was probably about ten Snickers bars. My one meal was probably about 10 of them. So it wasn’t just one, I had a bunch of ’em.

Still, there’s more to the story. When he was a teenager, Herschel adopted a mostly vegetarian diet and began eating only one meal a day. The diet has remained consistent, and his single daily meal now mainly consists of bread and soup or a salad. That’s it.

Most folks would likely suffer increases in total cholesterol or problems with blood pressure or glucose. Surprisingly, though, eating only one meal each day has apparently worked for him. Herschel has since represented the United States in the 1992 Winter Olympic two-man bobsled team, now carriers fifth degree black belt in Taekwando, and has competed in professional mixed martial arts. He won his first match at the age of forty seven, defeating Greg Nagy. Forty Seven! Not a typo!

The world may, however, never see another athlete like Herschel Walker… and we can blame Snickers for the loss. Mars, Inc., the corporate manufacturer of Snickers, is slimming down the candy bar. The company has announced that it plans to restrict its sales to candy bars that do not exceed 250 calories by the end of the year, meaning that the king-sized and super-jumbo-turbo models will disappear from the shelves in the fairly near future.

Mars Spokeswoman Marlene Machut said the plan was part of the company’s’ “broad-based commitment to health and nutrition.” According to Mars’ website, this commitment is a component of a systematic plan to promote wellness while still peddling chocolate, caramel and that odd coarse nougat that conquered the three musketeers. Again, according to the website, the Mars is globally committing to:

  • Not to buy advertising time or space if more than a quarter of the audience is likely to be under 12 years of age; nor will we advertise on websites aimed at those under 12
  • To implement Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) nutrition labeling on the majority of our chocolate and confectionery globally by year-end 2011 and will continue to roll out GDA across our entire food portfolio
  • Not to ship any Mars chocolate products that exceed 250 calories per portion by the end of 2013
  • To reduce sodium levels in all Mars Food products globally by 25 percent by 2015, from a 2007 baseline. We are doing this by participating in government initiatives and agreeing to voluntary reduction commitments in different regions.

Hershel Walker is not happy, but the NBA’s Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard and the NFL’s Marshawn Lynch are breathing a collective sigh of relief. They’re obsessed with Skittles. Even though these candies are manufactured by The Wrigley Company, which is owned by Mars, the nutritional initiative will not affect them. Skittles aren’t chocolate products, and therefore Mars doesn’t plan to take any action that will affect the health, wellness or nutrition of consumers of the little drops of hydrogenated palm kernel oil, modified corn starch, titanium dioxide, carnuaba wax and yellow 5 coloring.

Whew.

##

%d bloggers like this: