Hot Dogs, Mustard, and Mr. October

A hot dog among hot dogs.

“There isn’t enough mustard in the world to cover Reggie Jackson.” —Darold Knowles, Oakland A’s, 1973

Once a year on the 4th of July weekend, the world focuses its curious attention to the freak-show known as Coney Island for the formerly Japanese-dominated, highly anticipated athletic event known as Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Half drunk crowds watch with glee as contestants literally stuff voluminous amounts of the mystery food down their throats like a starving 2-year-old child to the tune of a 10,000 dollar prize and accolades that only a B-movie actor or 3rd rate hip hop artist could receive.

I attended this event with my bikini-clad girlfriend in the summer of 2006. She had short blond hair akin to Communist-loving Brigitte Nielsen of Rocky 3 fame and turned her nose up to the event. And I, like much of the crowd, was pleasantly buzzed and was absolutely tranquilized by the spectacle. It was a much more desirable choice than loitering on a dusty and windy East Coast beach while Eastern European chess players eyeballed the thin, blonde California girl who had been turning heads since she was a pre-teen growing up in a small town in the north side of the Golden State.

And in my hazy state on that sunny New York day, I started to wonder how eating hot dogs was a gluttonous spectacle, and “being” one in the baseball world was to be the same: an all-encompassing, excessive personality who craved attention and Reggie Jackson certainly was emblematic of this. The parallels were astounding. Like the hot dog eating affair, New Yorkers, who voraciously consumed gossip newspapers, had some sort of love/hate affair with NY Yankee Jackson: the “grotesque” that lovingly had a sprinkle of S&M around the edges. Pure, unadulterated spectacle display for a culture of ostentatious citizens that prides itself on having a vulgar personality and shoving mass quantities down its own throat for the sake of a story.

Pass the mustard.

7 thoughts on “Hot Dogs, Mustard, and Mr. October

  1. Corkywk

    I’ll admit Gary, stomaching Reggie’s ego during the regular season was at times more than I could take. It was like constantly being force-fed — way too much Hotdog! Yet come playoff time, when it really mattered, ‘too much hotdog Reggie’ turned Oktoberfest feast, and then for some reason my stomach felt a whole lot better?

    Looking back today, my perception is totally different. He was who he was. One of a kind. Okay, sometimes you needed something for your stomach to quell that “are you effing serious?” feeling. But all said and done, he was damn-well entertaining, both on the field and off.

    He’d still be the center of attraction if he was playing Today! And Baseball would be better for it! Player personalities man, don’t hide the misfits, their the most entertaining!

  2. Yeah, Another Blogger

    Not sure how many World Series victors RJ was on, but it was a lot. If memory serves me properly, the As won three World Series in a row. I liked that team. Joe Rudi, Vida Blue et al. And then he got more World Series rings with the Yankees.


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