Joey Chestnut Still The Top Dog

July 5, 2011

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My favorite event of the Summer, the Annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Championship was held yesterday. Joey Chestnut made it 5 in a row downing 62 Hot Dogs and Buns in 10 minutes of time. His nearest competitor – Patrick Bertoletti – set a personal best with 53 dogs consumed. This event also was the first appearance by three competitors from China that were flown in to participate. (Nathan’s coincidentally is opening up a number of chain stores in China, so it strictly is a marketing ploy to be sure)

Meanwhile in the world of competitive eating, controversy still reigns supreme. Across town at another locale, 230 Fifth Avenue – namely a rooftop bar in mid-town Manhattan, six-time champ Takeru Kobayashi downed a record 69 hot dogs to become the unofficial winner of this year’s annual Nathan’s hot dog eating competition.

The establishment broadcasted the sanctioned Nathan’s Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Competition in real-time on ESPN. Kobayashi went up against the competitors on the big screen in a sort of “simulcast eating event” and beat the competitors in the official competition by 7 dogs.

Questions immediately were raised. Are these the same size Hot Dogs at are at Nathan’s? Did the proximity to the boardwalk on Coney Island and the sheer volume of spectators make the conditions more hot and humid versus the high rise, breezier and cooler conditions in which Kobayshi quote “competed” ? Would Chestnut have kicked it into another gear had he had his sights on Kobayashi immediately to his left or right?

Last year in protest, Kobayashi was arrested at the Nathan’s event after he climbed over a barrier and stormed the stage of the Nathan’s contest. He was protesting the fact that he was unable to come to an agreement contractually with the powers that oversee the world of competitive eating. (Which by the way according to an ESPN poll is not a sport….80% of the voters indicated it is cool to watch but not considered a sport)

Catching wind that there may be a simultaneous off site event featuring Kobayashi, MLE (Major League Eating ) president Richard Shea said earlier this week that his organization wouldn’t recognize Kobayashi’s achievement if he wins. “It’s a farce,” said Shea. “He’s not banned, he’s just mad he lost three years in a row.”

Kobayashi claims he has no hard feelings for the MLE. He just doesn’t want to sign a contract that restricts him.

Steven Greenberg, the owner of the bar where Kobayashi “unofficially” broke the record indicated Kobayashi was paid for his hot dog eating appearance but said it wasn’t an endorsement or promotional fee and wouldn’t disclose the amount.

Will this ever be settled? Will cooler heads prevail and we get to see once again Kobayashi versus Chestnut? Perhaps at the Nebraska State Fair?

Maybe they could battle in some sort of neutral food other than hot dogs? A few ideas…Pickled Eggs, Chocolate Ice Cream, Funnel Cakes, or my personal favorite (and yes someone does have a world record for this) Mayonnaise.

A new twist for 2011 – This year for the first time ever, the women got an event of their own and did not compete directly against the men. Sonya Thomas aka, the Black Widow downed forty dogs to take the first official Woman’s’ Title , a check for Ten Grand, and the now coveted Pink Belt.

The winner of the “Real “ Event gets a smooth $10,000 and more importantly the coveted Mustard Belt awarded to the winner of the Nathan’s Competition. For Chestnut he needs to clear out some more wall space.

Somehow I think that Aaron Rodgers with his “Championship Belt “ move on the football field would look better sporting one of the Mustard colored belts that would match the Packer Green just fine….but I digress….

Until Next time…Stay Classy at the unlimited buffet nights!

All Stars and Hot Dogs

July 6, 2010

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Hot Dog

Joey Chestnut defended his title at the Nathan’s Famous hot dog contest over the weekend – but he was overshadowed by the actions of former champion Takeru Kobayashi.  Kobayashi slipped past security and on to the stage following the contest.  He was arrested for trespassing, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and obstruction of governmental administration (yeah, I have no clue what this last one is).  He was released after a night in jail and faces a hearing today.

What’s at the heart of this issue?  A contract.  Partipants at the contest must sign contracts witg Major League Eating.  This contract prevents the eaters from participating in contests not sanctioned by MLE.  MLE says that this is to protect sponsors.  Pepto Bismol is a sponsor of the Nathan’s contest.  If the contestants were to compete in a Tums-sponsored even on the 3rd (or 5th) this would dilute the value of the sponsorship.  Kobayashi insists that he just wants the freedom to participate wherever he wants.

The solution to this seems pretty straightforward – allow for a sponsor’s exemption.  If all the sponsors for an event agree to allow a non-member to compete, then MLE would waive the requirement.  This isn’t a completely foreign concept – the PGA and LPGA golf tours have sponsor’s exemptions for tournaments.

I’ve always been a bit fan of Kobayashi’s, but I was very disappointed to see him stoop to this level.  I hope that he and MLE can reach an agreement at some point.

All Stars

The Major League Baseball All Star Game will be played next Tuesday night.  Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez was named to the team.  Jimenez was rocked for 7 runs against the Giants on Saturday, but escaped with a no-decision and currently stands with a record of 14-1.  Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was named to his first All Star game, but will be unable to played due to a broken wrist.  Rockies outfielder Carlos “Car Bomb” Gonzalez is on the “Final Man” ballot.  Vote for him, please …

Matt Holliday (formerly of the Rockies and currently with the Cardinals) was named to the National League team, to the surprise of ESPN, who said “One surprising pick was St. Louis’ Matt Holliday. In the first year of a seven-year, $120 million deal, Holliday is batting .209 with runners in scoring position and has 39 RBIs — fourth-best on the team.

It’s a shame that the dominant provider of sports entertainment would make such a gaffe.  First of all, RBI has long been consider a poor way to judge the value of a player.  The statistic is heavily influenced by the players hitting in front of the batter.  If they don’t get on base, he can’t drive them, in.  The batting average for runners in scoring position hasn’t been ridiculed as much as RBI, but many observer feel that that “clutch hitting” is much more rooted in luck than skill. 

What, then, would I suggest using?  Maybe something like Wins Above Replacement (WAR).  WAR measures a player’s offensive and defensive value, adjusting for their positon and for the value a replacement-level player could provide  (get more info on WAR here).  Where does Holliday rank amongst National League outfielders in WAR?  Yep – first.

Hots dogs, Tiger, and Larry the cable guy

July 7, 2009

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As covered last week by yours truly, the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Championship lived up to all the hype.  Joey Chestnut became a three time champ downing a new world record 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes.  Amazing.

Tiger Woods outdueled the field and won for the third time this year.  Hunter Mahan threw an impressive final round 62 at Eldrick at Congressional, but it was not enough. Woods had his game face on all day and won for the third time this year.  He heads to the Open Championship in two weeks and if he can play like this should be considered the favorite..then again…when isn’t he?

Tragedy hits the NFL.  Seems like we have been talking too much lately about untimely deaths of popular figures of American culture.  The more details that are coming out the less the local community feels like they really knew Steve McNair.

Roger Federer wins an unprecedented 15 grand slam title.  While last years match was considered “the greatest game ever played” we do not seem to be hearing the same talk this year about this 2009 version of the Mens’ Wimbledon Final.  Roddick and Federer went more games this year than Nadal v. Federer last year.  Nike wasted no time in having a smooth looking velveteen jacket that was gold and white with a nice “F”  on the front and a smooth number 15 on the back…..wonder how long it will be before that is outdated?

Lance Armstong is making a comeback to vie for the Tour de France this year after retiring some years ago.  The seven time winner finds himself in 3rd place behind current leader Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland just 40 seconds behind.  Can  Livestrong continue this feat and win an 8th Tour?  Either way it will be an amazing story and it will be especially with the French Media, who has looked for every possible angle to try an diminish the great cyclists record in this prestigious event.

For you fantasy geeks out there remember that most Fantasy Football drafts are just around the corner.  Many of my co-workers are already buying magazines and laying out the big plans for the boys bachelor party weekend…errrrr…Draft Collaboration.  It is truly amazing how much wasted efficiencies are realized each year by millions of workers surfing the net and trying to figure out who is a better pick, Adrian Peterson or Michael Turner.  Count me among those that love the fantasy leagues and the draft parties.  I am just not a rabid fan as many I know.  Look for some upcoming fantasy football articles from the Goodman file later this year.

In college sports news “of sorts”  The University of Nebraska allowed comedian, Larry the Cable Guy, to perform a 4th of July concert at Memorial Stadium.  This is big news to those of us here in Nebraska as the last time a “non-football” event was held at Memorial Stadium was the Farm Aid concert some time in the 1980’s.  The only reason that year the University allowed the Farm Aid concert was because they were going to tear up and replace all of the Astroturf in the stadium.  Larry who is a native Nebraskan, charged a whopping $4-$6 dollars for tickets depending on seating and where you purchased them.  You can catch the action on Comedy Central likely in a month or two as the event was taped to be shown on TV at a later time.  Nice Job packing the house with over 50,000 who watched the concert this past Saturday.

Until Next week….GIT – R- DONE!

Hot Dog!

June 30, 2009

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While most of us revel in the fireworks of the Fourth of July or the backyard barbeque, I for one take in a sporting event unlike any other. It is my favorite hour of television for the entire year. The Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Championship.  2009 ushers in the 94th installment of this major eating event. The contest takes place every year where it all started at the company’s flagship store in Coney Island on July 4.  This year will be a fierce rematch of two-time champion Joey Chestnut against six-time champion Takeru Kobayashi.

According to legend, on July 4, 1916, four immigrants had a hot dog eating contest at the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog stand on Coney Island to settle an argument about who was the most patriotic. After ten minutes, Neer Sehgal had eaten thirteen hot dogs and was crowned the victor. The contest has been held nearly every year since, in conjunction with the fourth of July at the site.

To add to the dramatic theatre of the event, there is a weigh-in with the Mayor of New York City prior to the contest. On the day of the contest, the contestants arrive in the “bus of champions” and are announced to the eating stage much like Heavyweight boxing champions are announced in a Rocky Movie. Competitors arrive with props and the list of “eating accolades” which include world record holders in such culinary delights as hot wings, crab cakes, pickled pig’s feet and my personal favorite … mayonnaise.

It will be very hard to duplicate last years event, where Chestnut and Kobayashi wolfed it out bite for bite against one another. Kobayashi narrowly escaped a “reversal of fortune” at the buzzer, ( eating terminology for losing your lunch). After the end of the 10 minute regulation, both were tied at an amazing 59 hot dogs a piece. Next what ensued is one of the most exciting fifty seconds in the history of organized sport. This is way better than Elway’s’ drive against the Browns, MJ’s shot at the buzzer to beat the Utah Jazz, more climatic than Tiger Woods dropping in a long put to send the US Open Last year into a sudden death playoff. Heck I will even say it was better than the 1980 “Miracle on Ice”

I am talking about the monumental yet slightly constipating five hot dog overtime.  Chestnut won, but Kobayashi immediately vowed to return to reclaim the Coveted Mustard Yellow Belt which ranks up there with the WWE title belt in terms of prestige.

“Each July Fourth I am thrilled as an enormous crowd gathers in front of the original Nathan’s Famous,” said Wayne Norbitz, President and COO of Nathan’s Famous, Inc.  “We value our association with this great American holiday and I appreciate the fans, who come from around the world to witness the spectacle first hand while millions more watch on ESPN.”

Last year, Coney Island authorities stated that 40,000 fans crowded the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Coney Island to witness Joey Chestnut’s rematch with Takeru Kobayashi.  Amazingly, more than one million households tuned in to the contest’s live telecast on ESPN.

To add to the spectacle this year The 2009 contest will be preceded on July 3 by a hot dog bun eating contest, in which three professional eaters will take on three semi-professional eaters..elephants from Ringling Brothers Circus.

Vegas has the Pachyderms as the early morning line favorite.

I for one know exactly where I will be at high noon come this Saturday. Smack dab in the middle of my couch watching the battle for the bejeweled mustard belt…likely while enjoying a wonderful Johnsonville bratwurst and a beer.

Have a Happy and safe fourth of July!