Monday, September 18, 2017

GameDay Eating vs. McDonald's McDouble

THE GAME: Dodgers vs Phillies

If you told me that Clayton Kershaw has a losing record against two National League teams, I would have two reactions.

The first would be to say "Really?" This is the seventh season in a row that I have considered him the best pitcher in the NL.

My second reaction would be to try and guess the two teams. It wouldn't be one of the teams in the NL West; the more Kershaw has played a team, the more likely he has a winning record, obviously.

My first guess would have been the Cardinals. I don't have any regular-season anecdotes, just the memory of Kershaw struggling against the Cards in the postseason, so it would seem a logical guess. (And also, you've probably figured out, an incorrect one: Kershaw is 6-5 against St. Louis.)

My next guess would have been Cincinnati. Again, no evidence off the top of my head, but Great American Ballpark is a homer-happy park, so I would have guessed maybe he'd had a couple of bad starts and has a losing record against the Reds. (Again wrong: he is 3-2 against Cincinnati.)

It turns out his losing records are against the Pirates (2-3) and Phillies (3-4).

But the Phillies this year ain't what they have been. So I'm guessing it doesn't happen today.

I decided to do another competition this evening. For National Cheeseburger Day, I'm taking on one of my favorite fast food cheeseburgers.


NOTES ON THE FOOD: 
  • I've mentioned before that I'm not really a McDonald's fan, but for some reason I love their McDouble. 
  • The beef I used is USDA Prime from my local butcher. I grilled it on cast iron, rehydrated some onions, and used Bubbies pickles. 

  • Two patties and a slice of McDonald's cheese weighed 2.54 ounces. How the hell is that possible? One-ounce burger patties?
  • I thought I was making my patties ridiculously small - please believe me when I say that I have made more than 500 burgers in my life, and never have I made a burger patty this small - but mine still clocked in 3.74 ounces, a full 68% larger than McDonald's. 
  • I used a slice of Tillamook cheddar.

  • I'm not scoring this one round by round, because if I did, what I'm about to tell you won't make any sense: I liked the McDouble more. 
  • Every ingredient I used was higher quality - with the possible exception of the bun; I love McDonald's regular white buns - and it's possible that if I served these two burgers to ten friends, every single one of them might prefer mine. 
  • But when combining everything together, the McDonald's burger always provides an umami sensation that my burger just didn't. 
  • I can make a burger that I vastly prefer to the Big Mac - as I did a couple of weeks ago. I can make a version of the Double-Double that I like more. Five Guys, Fatburger, Shake Shack... all great burgers, but I would not be afraid to go up against any of them. But I'm not sure if I can make a better version of McDonald's $1.39 burger.  


NOTES ON THE GAME
  • Chris Taylor hits an inside-the-park home run on the second pitch of the game. How many inside-the-park leadoff homers have you ever seen? Alcides Escobar had one in the World Series two years ago; that's the only other one I can remember. 
  • Justin Turner hits a (traditional) homer run on the 5th pitch of the game.
  • Kershaw gives up an infield single in the first inning that bounced off his glove. That's just bad luck.
  • Chase Utley gets a standing ovation from the Philly fans. So Santa Claus gets booed but Utley and Mike Trout get cheered? That's cool with me. 
  • The last Dodger to lead off a game with an inside-the-park homer? Dave Roberts in 2003. How do you like that?
  • Puig hits into a 5-4-3 double play. Has he gotten slower? (Mike Trout certainly has, so it's possible Puig has, too.)
  • Joe Davis just asked if Orel Hershisher could name the four pitchers who have each won four or more Cy Young Awards. It took him several hints (and wrong guesses) to get them. That surprised me. 
  • Philly gets their second hit - and first non-lucky one - in the 4th inning. Dammit, Clayton, pull your head out of your ass!
  • Justin Turner just made one of the longest throws you'll ever see from third to first base. That's worth seeking out the video if you have a spare moment. 
  • Kershaw has loaded the bases in the 6th - and two of them came on walks. I have a bad feeling about this. He's missing his spots. 
  • Yep, sure enough: the next batter hits a grand slam. That's the first grand slam Kershaw has given up. In his entire career. It's been that kind of September for the Dodgers. 
  • That was the 104th batter Kershaw has faced in his career with the bases loaded. The previous 103 had hit .193 with 34 strikeouts and, obviously, 0 home runs. 
  • The umpires come out in the top of the 9th to check the Phillies pitcher's hat. It's covered with rosin and Hershisher starts complaining about how that shouldn't be allowed. Finally Joe Davis quiets him by saying "Right... it's been checked at this point." Translation: "Shut up and stop whining, Orel."
  • Granderson with a solo homer with one out. The Dodgers have two outs to get one run. 
  • They cannot. Phillies win 4-3. They got all the runs on one pitch. 
  • Kershaw wasn't great in that 6th inning, but the offense scored two runs in the first five pitches and then nothing until the solo homer in the 9th. 
  • If that doesn't cut it against one of the worst teams in baseball, that probably won't cut it in the postseason. 
  • Any rate, Kershaw is now 3-5 against the Phillies and I was totally wrong about him having a great game.
  • The Dodgers are now 5-13 in September. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Tri-Tip Sandwich

THE GAME: Packers vs Falcons

I was all set to watch and write about the Dodgers vs. Nationals on Sunday Night Baseball. As I have written, that's probably my favorite show of all time; there is nothing better than an ending the weekend by relaxing with some afternoon/evening baseball. And those two teams have long been my pick for the NLCS - the Nationals were my World Series pick last year; the Dodgers this year - so it was a no-brainer.

But two things changed my mind. First, Kershaw is pitching against the Phillies tomorrow. Kershaw is one of the great pitchers of all time and the Phillies are one of the two worst teams in baseball this season. That sounds like a more fun game to blog.

Secondly, more importantly, yesterday was the worst decision I have ever made in more than a year of this blog. I thought Louisville was going to give Clemson a good game and I thought USC would manhandle Texas. The former was no contest; the latter was one of the most exciting games I have seen in years.

My instincts failed me. So I'm not trusting them tonight. It's NFL instead.

NOTES ON THE FOOD:
  • Tri-tip is a triangular cut of muscle from the bottom sirloin of a cow. There is not much fat to it, hence not a lot of flavor, so for a long time it was a relatively worthless cut of cattle. Then someone figured out that if you cover it with spices and cook it to medium-rare over oak, it yields a delicious steak. 
  • My technique - which I employed on Saturday for some friends - is too grill it indirectly with a mix of garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary, salt, pepper, and red wine. The corners will be medium, the rest of the meat getting progressively rarer as you move towards the center of the cut.
  • There was plenty left over, so this evening I carved it up and bought a fresh roll at the market. 

  • I steamed the meat for five minutes to warm it up. Under no circumstances would I reheat this in the microwave - more than any other cut of meat, tri-tip becomes rubber when you reheat it that way. 
  • I then placed two slices of Muenster cheese on top of the meat and threw it under the broiler for three minutes. 

  • Gates BBQ's original sauce is probably my favorite tomato-based barbecue sauce in America. (Some days it's Rudy's "sause," from Texas - but it's ALWAYS one of those two sauces.) 

  • A local supermarket labels this "Chinese" cole slaw. I have no idea why, other than I guess because it's got some crunchy noodles in it. Whatever, it's still delicious. The sweetness of the slaw is a nice contrast to the peppery barbecue sauce. 
  • As often happens with leftovers, this sandwich was much better than the meat had been on Saturday. 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • I was in high school the last time Los Angeles had two NFL teams. I had totally forgotten how much it sucks to have to watch the local teams on TV when there are better - or at least more interesting - games. Now I remember. Instead of getting to watch the Cowboys at Broncos today, I was shown the Rams and Redskins. 
  • Local commercials - especially on radio - tried to convince us over the last week that the Rams are good this year because they beat up on the (literally Luck-less) Colts last weekend. To the surprise of no one, they lost at home to the Redskins today. 
  • I've been to Georgia five times, but never Atlanta. It's the 38th-largest city in America. The only larger cities to which I have not been are Detroit and the Texas trio of Dallas, Ft. Worth, and Austin. Just thought I'd share that with you. 
  • Al Michaels informs us that this is Mike McCarthy's 12th season with Green Bay. It's funny how fast time goes by as you get older. It seems like McCarthy was just hired maybe 5 years ago. Back when I was a teenager, Mike Holmgren was the head coach for only 7 seasons, but in my memory it feels like he was there 20 years. 
  • It's tied at 7 after one quarter. Neither team looking all that great, but Green Bay looks flat-out bored.
  • 24-7 Atlanta at the half. Aaron Rodgers is 10/18 with 1 interception. That's pretty awful. Did I choose the wrong game for the second night in a row?
  • Atlanta has this game won, right? I'm trying to remember if they've ever blown a big lead before.
  • Commercial Note: Man, Wienerschnitzel is really pushing their "gourmet sausages." I was thinking of hosting an Oktoberfest BBQ in a couple of weeks - to watch college football and MLB playoffs - with some of those bratwurst I wrote about yesterday. But maybe I'll just get Wienerschnitzel catering. 
  • Rogers opens the second half with a fumble - more precisely a perfect lateral that hit the ground - and Atlanta recovers and takes it in for a score. 31-7. 
  • BTW, there is a Chick-fil-A in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but like all Chick-fil-As, it's closed on Sundays. Which means it will be open for exactly one Falcons game this year - a Thursday night game in December. 
  • Chick-fil-A's honey mustard is my favorite fast food honey mustard. That doesn't have anything to do with this game, but there really isn't much else to say. The Packers are getting their asses kicked. 
  • Down by 24, Green Bay kicks a field goal on 4th and goal. That's the spirit, guys. Now you're only down 21. 
  • (The Nationals are beating the Dodgers 7-1 at the moment, so this isn't nearly as egregious as yesterday's decision.)
  • All of a sudden the Packers have scored two touchdowns and it's an 11-point game. I cannot tell you how much I would love to see Atlanta blow a 24-point lead here. (But I would be shocked if that happened. )
  • Yeah, Atlanta wins by 11. It really didn't even feel that close. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Currywurst

THE GAME: Clemson vs Louisville 


It was overcast all morning, with sunny skies and pleasant temperatures in the afternoon - a nice break from what has been a very warm summer. It's not exactly autumn - it doesn't really feel like autumn here until the last week of October or so - but if you squinted your eyes just so, it wasn't too hard to pretend. 

So I decided to make one of my favorite autumn football eats: bratwurst. 

Part of me wants to watch USC vs. Texas just out of nostalgia for that epic Rose Bowl game almost 12 years ago... but I really don't think it will be much of a game. (I've hooked up my desktop monitor to the Roku, and I'll be streaming that game without volume, but I'm expecting USC's offense to absolutely steamroll the Longhorns.) 

Clemson and Louisville on the other hand? The defending National Champions on the road against the reigning Heisman Trophy winner? I can't pass that up. 

NOTES ON THE FOOD: 
  • I picked up a few bratwursts at the butcher, and grilled them in the cast iron pan, with about half a bottle of beer to steam them as well.
  • When finished - it took about 15 minutes - I cut them up into thick pieces. 

  • The wine country of the Central Coast, the Columbia River Gorge, and the French Quarter are my three favorite places in America. But not too much further down the list would be the 50%-off shelves at Cost Plus World Market. That's where I found this bottle of sauce a couple of weeks ago. Currywurst sounded much better than just bratwurst on a bun. 
  • I poured a little less than a cup of the sauce into a small pan, threw in a few hunks of brats, and heated it until it was all warmed through. 
  • Then I sprinkled some curry powder over the whole thing and dug in. I absolutely loved these. I can't wait to make them again (I still have more than half the bottle left) when it actually feels like autumn. 


NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • I got up at dawn and watched all of College GameDay. Did anyone else catch (64-year-old) Rick Pitino wearing a skintight Lamar Jackson jersey? That was... interesting. 
  • Damn, the other TV is showing Vince Young and Matt Leinart sitting at a table in the shadow of the Rose Bowl talking about the 2006 game. I have to remember to go back and watch that segment. 
  • Speaking of SC, the Coliseum looks packed with people having a great time and getting ready to watch an entertaining football team. Basically the opposite in every way of what it will look like for the Rams game tomorrow. 
  • Only four minutes into the game, Clemson goes for it on 4th-and-1 instead of taking the easy field goal. God I love it when teams play aggressive and coaches show faith in their players. No wonder Dabo Swinney's players love playing for him. 
  • Clemson's Tanner Muse is ejected for targeting on what appeared to be a gentle head-butt. Am I the only person who feels like targeting penalties are getting absurd?
  • Either way, the call stands and after the penalty yards are marked off, Louisville scores a touchdown on the next play.
  • I've now put the Rangers-Angels on my laptop, so I'm watching three games at once. It's like having one of those $60k video walls (only slightly less expensive).
  • Clemson's wide receiver got more wide open than I've seen a receiver in years. 79-yard touchdown. 16-7 Clemson. 
  • Another field goal for Clemson and it's a 12 point lead. Meanwhile... USC and Texas are tied with 4 minutes left in the first half and Parker Bridwell is perfect through 4 innings for the Angels. Now, I don't expect either of those two latter things to last a whole lot longer, but they're sure as hell more entertaining than Clemson methodically taking apart Louisville.  
  • (Bridwell gave up a double in the 5th and USC and Texas combined for three touchdowns in the final 2 minutes and 40 seconds of the half.)
  • A few minutes into the 3rd quarter and Lamar Jackson threw a pick-six. 26-7 Clemson. This game has lost its spot on the main screen. It feels over. 
  • 33-7. 
  • Meanwhile it's 14-10 USC and 1-0 Angels. I chose to focus on the wrong game tonight. My bad. 
EDIT 9:31 PM: USC and Texas are going to a second overtime. Yeah, I chose poorly tonight.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Asian BBQ Mini Corn Dogs

THE GAME: Dodgers vs Giants

Very few words in the English language are as overused as "unbelievable." 

The word, according to Merriam-Webster, means "too improbable for belief." Yet when it comes to sports, I hear the word on a daily basis. Just yesterday, I heard a highlight show refer to Cole Beasley's catch in the Dallas-New York game as "unbelievable." 

Really? An NFL receiver catching a football is too improbable for belief? 

It was certainly a cool catch, no doubt. You don't see catches like that every weekend. But it's not like he caught the thing while wearing handcuffs. It's not like he jumped 15 feet in the air. He put his hands on the ball, it bounced around, and he secured it. I had no trouble believing that it happened. 

Anyway, you get the point. There's pretty much nothing in sports that is unbelievable. 

That being said, what's happening to the Dodgers right now is damn close.

Let's cut to the chase: from June 7th-August 6th, the Dodgers went 43-7, the best 50-game stretch since 1912. Sports Illustrated put them on the cover, asking the very legitimate question: "Best team ever?"

But in the last 17 games the Dodgers have lost 16 times, the worst stretch of any team in baseball this season. Their only win? A 1-0 victory that I wrote about on September 1st. Last night the Dodgers lost their 11th game in a row, their longest streak since 1944, when they were still in Brooklyn.

The amount of good luck you need to win 43 out of 50 games is staggering. The amount of bad luck it takes to drop 16 out of 17 is also not small. The odds that both things will happen to one team in a three-month stretch? Well, it's... you know. 

As Brad Pitt said in Moneyball: "How can you not be romantic about baseball?"

NOTES ON THE FOOD:
  • I discovered mini corn dogs - they were called corn dog nuggets - almost 30 years ago at a hole-in-the-wall hot dog shop in my local mall. They quickly became one of my favorite things in the world and all these years later I still love them.
  • Years ago, Foster Farms came out with a frozen version that you can fry up yourself at home. That was one of the top 5 days of my life. (I exaggerate... slightly.)
  • When preparing to fry them, I always defrost a handful in the microwave for a minute at half-power, otherwise the frozen little weenies inside the corn batter don't cook all the way through once they hit the oil. And nobody wants a frozen little weenie.
  • After the defrosting, I fry them in oil for roughly four minutes at 375º, until they turn golden brown. 

  • Back when I was a kid, ketchup and yellow mustard were all I wanted with my mini corn dogs. Actually... now that I think about it, that's about all I wanted with everything I ate. But these days, especially when watching a game, I like to add a little more flavor to my food. 
  • I mentioned Hoboken Eddie's last month when I ate some poutine poppers with their "T-Bone Tickler." He makes some of the best sauces you will every try. Tonight, I opted to use the "Asian BBQ" sauce. As soon as the mini corn dogs came out of the oil, I blotted them on a paper towel and tossed them around with the sauce. 
  • A sprinkling of sesame seeds went on top, along with some chopped green onion. 
  • On the sides of the plate, I squirted a few lines of extremely-hot wasabi, because why not?
  • These were... unbelievable. (Just messing with you. They were extremely delicious, though. I could have eaten at least 25 of them. Which is why I only cooked 10.) 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • I feel lucky to have seen Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux in their primes. I would put Kershaw's prime as the third-best I have ever seen. (With the caveat that it's possible he's still in his prime. Who knows where I will view his career when all it's over?) If anyone is going to stop this freefall, it's Kershaw.
  • Of course, I said the exact same thing last Thursday and Kershaw didn't even make it out of the fourth inning. Because that's how bad things are for the Dodgers right now. (Before that, the team had won the last 16 games that Kershaw had started.)
  • The Angels are playing the Astros tonight: Justin Verlander vs. Garret Richards. If Kershaw wasn't pitching and the Dodgers weren't in the middle of this historic funk, I would be watching that. 
  • Speaking of impressive streaks, the Indians just won their 20th game in a row, tied with the 2002 A's (from the above-mentioned Moneyball) for the most in AL history. 
  • AT&T Park is a beautiful place to watch a baseball game but it's unquestionably the worst at which I've ever seen a football game. From where I was sitting, I could not see any action inside the 15-yard-line of the nearest end zone. None of that was mentioned when I bought my two tickets (which together cost over $200). I was not impressed. 
  • Johnny Cueto has not looked sharp through two innings - he even walked Kershaw - but the Dodgers have stranded four runners and failed to capitalize.
  • Pence and Panik both assumed the other was going to catch Puig's two-out pop-up. Dodgers have men on second and third now with two outs. It doesn't seem like an exaggeration to say the Dodgers HAVE to take advantage of that mental error.
  • Nope. Dodgers load the bases and Grandal strikes out. If you're keeping score at home - though there's no need to, as I'm doing it for you - that's seven left on base through three innings.  
  • Cueto has thrown 77 pitches in only three innings, with three hits and three walks... and yet the Dodgers don't have a run. That's not good. 
  • Oldest rule in the book: if you don't take advantage of the mistakes your opponent makes, you'll pay for it. San Francisco leads off the bottom of the 3rd with Kelby Tomlinson hitting a homer off Kershaw. I had to look up how to spell his first name because I'd never heard of him before tonight. 1-0 Giants.
  • Chase Utley crushes one into the bay, Kershaw hits a double, Seager sacrifices, Puig hits a massive two-RBI double, and it's 4-1 Dodgers. 
  • If they blow this lead with Kershaw on the mound, the team has more problems than any of us realize. I'm guessing they don't, however. Kershaw has only thrown 37 pitches. It feels like he's gonna cruise for the next five innings.  
  • Sure enough, the Giants gets a double and a single in the bottom of the inning but don't score any runs. That's the kind of thing that's been happening to the Dodgers the last three weeks. (And the Angels all season.)
  • I've only had SportsNetLA for a couple of months? How frequently do they use that godawful camera angle from behind the catcher and the umpire? They just used it twice with Kershaw pitching in crucial moments in the 6th inning. It is the worst camera angle I have ever seen for a televised baseball game. Who the hell thinks that's a good shot?
  • The Dodgers have gotten one more run and the Giants two more. 5-3 as we go to the 9th.
  • The Giants load the based with a couple of infield singles with one out and Buster Posey at the plate. It had to happen like this, didn't it?
  • We know how much heart these Giants players have, despite their terrible record this season. What I want to know is what these Dodgers are made of. Are they really going to blow a three-run lead at AT&T? Or are they going to say "enough is enough"?
  • Jansen strikes out Posey and Hundley. Dodgers win. The streak ends. 
  • That felt like a playoff game. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Shredded Chicken Enchiladas

 THE GAME: Patriots vs Chiefs

The NFL is back. That doesn't please me in the same way that the return of college football did last weekend - and certainly not nearly as much as the annual return of baseball every spring - but there is something decidedly comforting about it. 

The County Fair is going on. Traffic in my neighborhood becomes miserable between 2:30 and 3:30 in the afternoon as the elementary, middle and high schools - all within a four-block radius of me - get out at the same time. At night, I turn off the AC and open the windows. 

These are all reminders far better than an arbitrary date on a calendar: summer is over. It's football season. 

NOTES ON THE FOOD:
  • Enchiladas are the first dish that I ever learned to make. (Unless you count cheese-and-mustard sandwiches. I do not.) My grandmother showed me and two friends how to make them when we were 11 years old and, for some reason lost to memory, we had to make them for our sixth-grade class.
  • My grandmother was a wonderful woman, however she was from the Midwest - born during the Great War and a teenager during the Great Depression - and she had almost no idea what she was doing when it came to Mexican food. So even though she taught me the basics for making enchiladas, I've never again made them using her recipe. Tonight was no exception. 
  • I bought two chicken breasts from the local butcher - already marinated - and roasted them in the oven. 
  • I also purchased a bottle of the marinade that the butcher uses.
  • I shredded the cooked chicken with two forks, threw the pieces in a bowl, and added another half-cup of the marinade. 

  • La Reina is a tortillaria established in East Los Angeles in 1958. I have never had better flour tortillas out of a package. 
  • I've written about Uncle Ben's "Ready Rice" before - the Jasmine and "Spanish Style" rices are a guilty pleasure of mine. 

  • I mixed the heated package of rice with the chicken, layered a good amount into flour tortillas, rolled them up, and placed them in a baking dish. 

  • I baked the rolled-up tortillas in the oven for 20 minutes, until they just started to become golden brown, then I pulled them out. 
  • Unlike the tortillas or rice, I have no preference as to the kind of enchilada sauce I use. Sometimes it's red, though when the enchiladas are chicken, I usually use green. 
  • I emptied the can of sauce over the tortillas and topped it with a mix of shredded cheeses, then put it back in the oven for another few minutes. 
  • At this point, I check on the enchilas every couple of minutes. You want the cheese to melt, of course, but you don't want it to melt too much, otherwise it turns into a pool of grease. 
  • Once the cheese had reached the perfect amount of melt, I removed the dish from the oven, topped it with a generous amount of fresh cilantro, and used a spatula to load two big pieces onto my plate. 
  • I then drizzled it with a bit of "creamy street sauce." I won't lie - this had much less to do with flavor than appearance. There were so many flavors going on here that a bit of insipid, creamy sauce was not noticeable. 
  • This particular batch were the best enchiladas I have ever made. 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • I turned to NBC just in time to see them starting to recap the Super Bowl. I immediately turned. It still makes me want to throw my remote control. As I wrote last February, I have been watching better teams choke against the Patriots for more than 15 years now, but I will never, ever see anything like Atlanta blowing a 25-point lead in the second half of the Super Bowl.
  • Oh Jesus Christ. I turned to the U.S. Open for a few minutes before turning back to NBC, hoping to watch some football. Instead it's Mark Wahlberg live at the stadium, introducing a video of Super Bowl highlights. Maybe watching this game was a mistake. Maybe I need to cross Patriots games off my list this season - just like I have UCLA football - until the playoffs. (For, uh, the Patriots... not UCLA.)
  • I hope this game is really close in the 4th quarter and it comes down to a battle of wits between Belichick and Andy Reid. I feel like there's a good drinking game to be invented there. 
  • Maren Morris is singing the National Anthem. She's a country singer, though I had to Google her to learn that. On ESPN College GameDay Saturday morning, the guest picker was also a country singer of some renown, and I had never heard of him either. I'm not sure if I just don't know anything about country music these days, or pop culture in general. I'm guessing it's the latter. 
  • The Patriots get the ball and score in less than three minutes. Seems about right. 
  • Kershaw is pitching for the Dodgers in 80 minutes - maybe this game will be over by then and I can watch some baseball. The Dodgers have lost 11 of 12 games; the only game they've won in that stretch was Kershaw's start that I wrote about last Friday. 
  • WTF? I went to get a glass of water, came back 90 seconds later, and New England still has the ball. 
  • Ah, apparently Kansas City's rookie running back, Kareem Hunt, fumbled the ball. In four years of college, wanna guess how many times he fumbled? Zero, of course. But, you know, it's against the Patriots now, and even rookies know that they're supposed to make mistake after mistake against New England. 
  • The Patriots now have a 32-yard field. Screw the Dodgers at 7:10 - this game might be over in time for me to watch Pawn Stars at 6. (KC actually stopped them on 4th-and-short.) 
  • Commercial Note: Is a dramatic miniseries on the Menendez Brothers something that the public has been clamoring for? They killed their parents, they confessed, it went to trial anyway, and then they were convicted. Am I missing something? What could a miniseries add to the subject 28 years later? (Or are people just fascinated by psychopathy and greed and there is always a market for both?)
  • Both teams have had impressive drives. New England leads 17-14 at halftime, but after what happened in the first five minutes, Kansas City should consider that a major victory. 
  • I turned to the Dodgers game at halftime. Kershaw has given up 3 runs in the first inning. The Dodgers have plenty of time to stop this free-fall - especially once Seager and Bellinger are healthy - but it's still something to witness. The Dodgers from early June to late August were one of the four greatest teams I have ever seen. 
  • Back in the football game, Alex Smith connects with Tyreek Hill for a 75-yard touchdown and suddenly the Chiefs are up 21-17 with 9 minutes to play in the 3rd quarter. 
  • Commercial Note: Tom Cruise is playing Barry Seal in the new movie American Made. Back in 1991, there was a made-for-HBO movie called Doublecrossed with Dennis Hopper playing Barry Seal, and I absolutely loved it. (Of course, I was 12 years old; I also loved professional wrestling and wearing MC Hammer pants.) 
  • A quick Google search reveals that you can watch the whole movie on YouTube. Now I know how I'm spending my Friday night. 
  • Patriots score again. Kansas City got called for two penalties that gave New England first downs on the drive. It looked like they were good calls, but still, Kansas City has been called for 12 penalties for 119 yards. New England has been called for two penalties for 35 yards. Typical New England home game. 
  • Alex Smith and Kareem Hunt team up for a 78-yard touchdown pass, annihilating former Bruin Cassius Marsh on the play. 28-27 Chiefs in the 4th quarter. This is a much better game than I anticipated. Sorry for being a dick to you earlier, Kareem.
  • NBC with a great stat: the Chiefs have three drives of 90+ yards tonight. They had one in all of 2016. 
  • My new favorite player Kareem Hunt with a rushing touchdown. 35-27 Chiefs. There is no possible way Tom Brady can come back from this. 
  • (For the love of God, that was a joke.)
  • 42-27 Kansas City. They have carved up New England's defense tonight. 
  • That's how the game ends. That was more enjoyable than I ever could have imagined. 
  • Still, does anyone expect that the Patriots won't be in the AFC Championship Game in January? You're crazy if you do. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Watermelon BBQ Meatballs

THE GAME: UCLA vs Texas A&M

I have no idea what to expect of UCLA football this season. I mean, Jim Mora is still the coach, so it's a fair guess that they will lose a few games to inferior teams, not beat any superior teams, commit a lot of penalties, play mediocre defense, and, if everything goes right, play some bowl game in the Southwestern United States on a random night in December.

NOTES ON THE FOOD

  • I've lived all but four years of my life within 60 miles of the Rose Bowl - the vast majority of it within 10 miles - and I don't ever remember humidity like we've had over the last 48 hours. (My friends reading this in Oregon, Texas and New York might not have heard, but we are in a massive heat wave all over the state. San Francisco set a record on Friday at 106º.) 
  • I've had this bottle of watermelon BBQ sauce since last summer but haven't opened it until today. The cool, sweet taste of watermelon sounded like a good complement to my beloved meatballs. 
  • I baked the meatballs in the oven for 45 minutes then blotted them on a paper towel to remove the grease. Normally, I enjoy the fat that melts away from beef and pork, but in this case I didn't want it to distract from the flavor of the sauce. 
  • I tossed the balls in a bowl with the sauce, plated them, and added cold crumbles of queso fresco.
  • They were phenomenal. I split them with two other people and we all agreed that I should have bought a second package of meatballs. Next time. 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • I met a lot of A&M fans in Old Town Pasadena last night. They were a very nice group of people. 
  • For the record, I'd say the Alabama fans were the nicest I've ever met, with Nebraska fans coming in second. Oregon and Fresno State are easily the worst.
  • Apparently Jim Mora claims he "doesn't feel a lot of pressure in Westwood." Yeah, I wouldn't think so. UCLA tolerates and excuses mediocrity in their football program in ways they never would in basketball. Four years ago, Ben Howland was fired as the head basketball coach after winning the PAC-12. Meanwhile, in football, Karl Dorrell and Rick Neuheisel were allowed to lead the program for a combined nine seasons. In five seasons, Mora hasn't beaten a single top 10 team and yet here he is back for year six. 
  • Lots of people - not just UCLA fans but in the media - have said that they love UCLA's new Under Armor uniforms. I wonder if they mean they like the actual color, or if they just like the fact that it's a return to the uniforms of the 80s. I'm not a fan.
  • On UCLA's first drive, they had a first down on A&M's 12-yard line and settled for a field goal. Classic Jim Mora team. 
  • On A&M's first drive, UCLA committed a personal foul out of bounds. Classic Jim Mora team. 
  • UCLA fumbles on consecutive offensive plays and A&M is now up 17-3. 
  • 24-3. If this were the last game of an injury-filled season, UCLA's lethargy and apathy would make sense. But for the first game? This performance is just... weird.
  • I wrote last season - Jesus, I've been doing this blog for more than a year now - that until Rosen stops throwing off his back foot when he's rushed, he will never be the great quarterback that everyone has already anointed him. It seems no one else has told him that yet. 
  • 31-3. Jim Mora is staring ahead glumly. He's probably thinking Hmm, let's see, who can I blame now? I'm on my third offensive coordinator and third defensive coordinator in six seasons. All the players have changed. And yet we still play like complete pussies.... Do you think anyone is going to figure out that I'm the only common denominator? 
  • UCLA safety Jaleel Wadood made a tackle 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage then started gesturing wildly with his hands as if he'd just made a game-saving tackle. Dude, you're down by 28 at home in the first half. Pump the brakes.
  • The Angels lost 2 of 3 to the Rangers this weekend, despite scoring 22 runs. The Dodgers have lost 8 of 9 games. The weather, as I mentioned, is miserable. The largest fire in the history of Los Angeles is burning at the moment. There are lots of weekends in my life that I would love to relive. This has not been one of them. 
  • I guess UCLA turned it over again, but I'll be honest: I've been watching West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech for the last 15 minutes. It's tied in the 3rd quarter and is much more entertaining than this UCLA game.
  • To be fair, Kangaroo Jack is more entertaining than this UCLA game. 
  • Also, the Yankees and Red Sox are playing on Sunday Night Baseball. I'm going to watch that, too. 
  • Last season, I didn't give up on UCLA football until the fourth week of the season (when they blew a lead to Stanford with twenty seconds left). This season I didn't even make it to the fourth quarter of the first game. 
  • I'm probably not going to watch any more of their games this season. I suppose Dan Guerrero could do something to show the fans and alumni that this level of play just isn't acceptable - i.e. fire Coach Mora. 
  • But that's the thing - like I wrote earlier, I feel like this level of play is acceptable to the school. 
UPDATE: After I stopped watching, UCLA scored 35 straight points to win (after A&M lost their starting quarterback). Cool, I guess. I imagine that will be all the ammunition needed for Mora to keep his job all season. His next win over a Top 10 team will be his first.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Big Mc

THE GAME: Dodgers vs Padres

It feels a little weird to say that a team with 91 wins on September 1st is in need of a stopper... but that's where we find ourselves today. Because the Dodgers also had 91 wins last weekend. They lost their fourth game in a row - for the first time all season - on Wednesday and then added a fifth straight defeat yesterday afternoon. This madness has to end. 

Fortunately for the Dodgers, they have one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball returning to the mound tonight for the first time since July 23rd: Clayton Kershaw. 

It was 106º this afternoon where I live, and the start of a long weekend. Nothing sounded better than sitting in the air conditioning, watching baseball, and cooking up a great dinner. I had an idea. 

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Marina texted me that she was going to Canada and asked if I wanted anything. I replied, not surprisingly, that I would love some kind of condiment that is not available in America. 

She brought me back several things - more will almost certainly feature here in the coming weeks - including a bottle of Canadian Big Mac sauce. I'm no fan of the Big Mac - I loathe the meat and the bun, which, obviously, are the most important components of a burger- but I am a big fan of the sauce. 

So I decided to make my own version. And call it the "Big Mc." (Like McDonald's, my last name starts with those two letters).


NOTES ON THE FOOD: 
  • I have only eaten one Big Mac in my adult life - although I did eat one a few months shy of my 18th birthday, in.... Rome. Seriously. I was on vacation in Rome and I went to McDonald's. Youth is truly wasted on the young. 
  • I formed two USDA Prime beef patties, making sure they were 4 ounces each, and grilling them in a cast iron pan. So right away there are three things superior to the Big Mac. 
  • American cheese is just not for me. (It's also not actually cheese, but that's a whole different argument.) So it was Tillamook exra-sharp cheddar for me. In the last two minutes of cooking the beef, I let the cheese melt on top. 
  • Rehydrated onions from Ralph's for that classic fast food burger taste, and Bubbies pickles, too. (Although I actually like the pickles that McDonald's uses.) 
  • Shredded lettuce, a brioche bun with an extra slice in the middle, and a very generous deluge of the Big Mac sauce. 
  • It was fantastic, of course, but it was too big a burger for me to finish. 
  • Well, okay, I finished it anyway. But it took quite an effort.
  • I will definitely make more burgers with the Big Mac sauce, but they will be made with a single patty. 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • Oh, wonderful, Charley Steiner is calling this game. There may be somebody somewhere who doesn't find him incredibly boring, but I have yet to meet that person. 
  • And Cowboy Joe West behind the plate! This keeps getting better.
  • The Padres are wearing their brown and yellow jerseys. I think they wear those on Fridays at home, though I'm not exactly sure. (I watch 5x as much AL baseball as I do NL.) At any rate, they remind me of the uniforms the Padres wore when I was a little kid. (And Tony Gwynn was on the team - probably my favorite player ever who did not play for the Angels or Dodgers.) 
  • Kershaw is through two innings. He's thrown 18 pitches, 14 of them for strikes. That's what we call efficient, folks. Wanna guess how many pitches it took the Angels pitcher, Tyler Skaggs, to get through two innings tonight? 65. (Not a misprint.) 
  • Through four innings, we're tied at 0. Pretty boring. But, like my grandma used to tell me, it can always be worse: Toronto and Baltimore are also tied at 0... in the 13th inning. 
  • Kershaw was expected to go about five innings and 75 pitches. He's only thrown 42 pitches through four. 
  • I won't lie, I've been sneaking a lot of peaks at the Angels-Rangers; it's 9-9 in the 8th inning. (Much more exciting than the Dodgers and Padres tied at 0 in the 6th. The Padres are one of the worst teams in all of baseball. The Dodgers need to pull their heads out of the asses.)
  • Chase Utley heard me and gets the RBI single. 1-0 Dodgers. Chase was born in Pasadena, BTW. 
  • Andre Ethier makes his season debut, pinch-hitting for Kershaw. Clayton's line for the night: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, and 70 pitches. Welcome back. 
  • Jansen gets the save. Dodgers win 1-0. The losing streak is over. 
  • I wish I'd had more to write about this game, but it was pretty much the most boring game I've seen all season. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Beer & Bacon Cheeseburger

THE GAME: Angels vs Rangers

One of my best friends from high school sent me a beautiful text on Saturday morning. It was three sentences long but here was the heart of it: "This is the last Saturday without college football until 1/6/18."

I don't know about you, but that makes me really happy. Baseball and college football are my two favorite sports, and I love the two months when we get to watch them concurrently.

Tonight, the Angels (with sole possession of the second Wild Card as of first pitch) start a four-game series against the Rangers (2.5 back). I won't lie: I don't have a good feeling about this series, especially tonight's matchup against Cole Hamels.

But this Angels team has surprised me all season. They are 13th (out of 15 teams) in runs scored, average, and on-base percentage, but somehow their patchwork pitching staff has performed well enough for the team to hang around.

I have no illusions about them playing in late October, but it's late August and the team is four games over .500, which is more than I ever expected.


NOTES ON THE FOOD: 
  • I picked up a patty of USDA Prime ground beef, stuffed with cheddar and bacon. You can try cooking this on the grill, but the cheese melts and the bacon fat renders and you will create a massive flame. It's cool to look at and it smells wonderful, but it ruins the flavor.
  • In a cast iron pan, nothing flares up, and the beef cooks in that wonderful grease and pork fat. This is what you want. 

  • A couple of years ago, I saw a BBQ sauce online made with beer and bacon. I ordered it on the spot. It's delicious. Once I felt my patty had cooked long enough, I slathered the sauce all over it, turned off the heat and covered the pan for a couple of minutes. 
  • This is not the kind of burger you want to eat on a hard or fancy roll. You just want something to hold it together and not interfere with the flavors, so I opted to use a soft white bun, slicked with a little bit of mayo.

  • Yes, there was bacon in the patty and bacon in the barbecue sauce. You didn't think I was going to stop there, did you? I cooked a few slices of thick bacon in the oven, drained off the fat, and layered them on top of the patty.

  • Months ago, I realized how much I enjoy rehydrating dehydrated onions and adding them to my burgers. It provides that classic fast food/roadside stand taste. Sometimes I'm making a gourmet burger and that flavor isn't welcome. Sometimes it is. 
  • I used a tablespoon of Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale to rehydrate the onions. 20 seconds in the microwave and then 20 minutes of resting. Pale Ale is one of my least-favorite styles of beer - I actually drink very little ale (and a whole lot of lager) - but Deschutes does one of the best examples of the style.

  • I saw this bag of garlic fries on sale at the store the other day and took a chance. Sometimes Kroger-brand items are surprisingly good. This one was not. I ate all the fries I cooked, with aioli and Irish ketchup (with stout), but I threw out the rest of the bag and will not be purchasing these again.

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • The last time Tyler Skaggs faced the Rangers (in April before he got hurt) he got hit pretty hard. (Though the Angels scored four runs in the 9th and 10th innings to win the game). Texas is playing well right now. Like I wrote, I don't like this matchup. 
  • C.J. Cron is batting cleanup tonight. I suppose that's worth a try - he's been having a great August. 
  • Of course, Albert Pujols is batting third, permanently entrenched behind Mike Trout. I don't even get upset at this point. (Well, not too upset.) I don't think that will change as long as Mike Scioscia is the manager. (Which means... it may never change.)
  • Josh Hamilton's time with the Angels is almost exclusively referred to as a "disaster." Yet in two seasons, his average was .255, his on-base percentage was .359, and his OPS+ was 110, (meaning 10% better than the league average). I would fucking kill to have him batting behind Trout instead of this broken-down version of Pujols. (I mean, I wouldn't kill a person, but a wild animal for sure. Possibly even a family pet.)
  • 5 pitches into the game, Skaggs has hit a batter, given up a hit, and thrown a passed ball that could well have been a wild pitch. 
  • How many times did you hear "Total Eclipse of the Heart" today? I heard it five times: local news, hardware store, grocery store, car, and now at the Angels game. That's neither funny nor clever, but, whatever. 
  • Adrian Beltre with a fielders choice RBI. You know, I was at Dodger Stadium the night he made his MLB debut - June 24, 1998. If you had told me that 19 years later Adrian would have 3019 hits and I would be sitting at home blogging about him, I would have said "Cool." And also "What the fuck is 'blogging'?"
  • Trout just misses one. He's now 0 for his last 9. This team is not fun to watch when he slumps, even if it's just for a game and a half. 
  • Pujols rolls over the first pitch. Hamels only needed six pitches to get through that inning. Way to make him work, Halos. 
  • Funny, Skaggs only needs eight pitches to get through the second inning. 
  • Beltre with a 3-run homer in the third inning, his 43rd career homer against the Angels, more than any other team. 5-1 Rangers. Can't say I'm the tiniest bit surprised. The Dodgers and Pirates are in the 11th inning right now, I'm gonna watch that for a bit. 
  • The Dodgers win in 12 innings. Because that's what they do. They are now 88-35. They have lost 10 games since... June 6th. They have gone 53-10 in that stretch. This is almost beyond my ability to comprehend. If they "only" go 29-10 to finish the season, they will win 117 games... more than any team in the history of baseball.
  • Let's see what I've missed with the Angels game... huh, not much. The score is the same. The Angels have added one measly hit. 
  • Tim Salmon says Adrian Beltre will finish his career as the greatest third baseman of all time. I'm a big Beltre fan, he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but Mike Schmidt won three MVPs and 10 Gold Gloves. 
  • The Angels have loaded the bases in the 8th inning, which is somewhat interesting... 
  • ... but Jefrey Marte is coming up, which is not. He's hitting .163 this season - I just looked it up and, frankly, I'm shocked it's that high. 
  • Also, who spells their first name "Jefrey?"
  • Yeah, the Angels don't get any runs there. 
  • Ballgame. 5-3, Rangers. Pujols grounds out to end the game. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Memphis BBQ Chicken Pizza

 THE GAME: Angels vs Nationals

I'm not one of the Angels fans - and there are many, many - who desperately wants to see Mike Scioscia fired.  I thought he should have lost his job after the team failed to make the postseason in 2012, but I don't hold him accountable for the last two seasons; there is not a team in baseball that could be without its top four starters for almost two entire seasons and expect success.

Some days it feels like Scioscia is just mailing it in, and he is definitely a dinosaur in his love of platoons and fixed bullpen roles, but overall I think he is one of the top ten managers in the game, and I'm not sure whom the Angels could hire to replace Scioscia at the moment who would be any better.

But... let's just say there are days when I can certainly understand why so many people can't stand the guy.

Today is one of the those days.

C. J. Cron has been the Angels hottest hitter of late, hitting .458 with 3 home runs in the last seven days and .372 in the month of August. But he's sitting today because the Angels are playing at Washington and so there is no DH. Which means Scioscia has put Albert Pujols at first base instead of C.J.

A decade ago, Albert was one of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball. This season, he possesses a WAR of -1.6. That's negative. If you replaced Albert with an average player, the Angels would have 1.6 more wins. His OPS is .648, a truly atrocious number for a DH, and the fourth-lowest among all batters in the entire American League.

But he's a veteran, so Scioscia is starting him. Against Gio Gonzalez, who has the fourth-best ERA in baseball, behind Kershaw, Scherzer, and Sale.

This is the most Mike Scioscia-ist of Mike Scioscia moves: sitting the hottest bat on the team in favor of a broken-down veteran. (By the way, when Pujols bats, he ALWAYS bats behind Mike Trout. Because veteran.)

I had actually planned to write about tomorrow's Angels-Nationals day game, but this has the possibility to be a special game. (And not for the Angels.)

NOTES ON THE FOOD: 
  • Back in June, I went to a Quakes vs. 66ers minor league game with a few friends. Before the game, my friend Nikki and I stopped into the bar at Lucille's Smokehouse to have a few happy hour drinks and eat some snacks. I bought this bottle of Memphis BBQ sauce. (Technically Nikki bought it... with a gift card that I gave her for Christmas. These things become increasingly complex the more you think about them.)
  • Trader Joe's dough is tasty, cheap, and incredibly easy. If you feel like going through all the steps to make fresh dough, God bless you. Tonight, this was enough for me. 
  • I used my deep dish pan and layered in some leftover chicken from a salad I made a couple of days ago. I added diced red onions, poured on lots of sauce, and covered it with five kinds of cheese. 
  • It baked in the oven for 25 minutes, and then I let it cool for 10, then added fresh cilantro.
  • It was spectacular. 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • Gonzalez throws Trout seven balls. The ump calls two of them strikes, but Trout still draws the walk. No perfect game for Gonzalez, at least.
  • Pujols waddles up to the plate and the announcers briefly mention that he's hitting .230 before going on to talk about how he hit his 500th home run in this ballpark... three and a half years ago. Glancing over Pujols's crappiness and focusing on his past glories. Not too hard to see the metaphor there. 
  • And Pujols grounds into a double play! Who could have seen that coming? The Nationals second baseman even bobbled the ball, but still made the play, because Pujols is the slowest player in the game. (I'm not exaggerating to make a point here: that last statement was a fact.)

  • By the way, every time Pujols grounds into a double play, he sets an MLB record. No one in the history of the game has GIDP more than he. 
  • It's just not fair to fans to have a player on our favorite team as great as Mike Trout, only to see him not get thrown a single pitch to hit because a terrible, slow player is hitting behind him. 
  • Howie Kendrick is up for Washington. For years he was my favorite Angel. He got a lot of shit for not living up to the massive expectations he built up while in the minors, but overall he played very good second base while batting .292 in nine seasons for the Angels. The team made the postseason in four of his nine years. I got nothing but love for Howie. 
  • In the second inning, Tyler Skaggs gives up a double but walks the #8 hitter to face Gio Gonzalez, whom he retires in three pitches. Exhibit #1 why I don't understand why the NL still uses the DH. Was that fun for anyone?
  • Skaggs is batting #8 for the Angels today. It's not THAT uncommon for an AL pitcher to bat 8th in an interleague game, although with this Angels offense, it's entirely possible that Skaggs is better than the #9 hitter. (He strikes out on 5 pitches, never taking the bat off his shoulder.)
  • Skaggs gives up a leadoff homer to Kendrick, then two more singles... and then retires the next three batters to limit the damage. Still, 1-0 Washington after 3 innings, and that might be all Gio needs today.
  • Gio gives up another walk but still hasn't allowed a hit through 4. 
  • Simmons leads off the 5th by getting out to a 3-0 count... and then stares at three strikes in a row. Excellent at-bat, Simba. 
  • Still no hits through five. 
  • Gonzalez strikes out Pennington in the 6th on a pitch clearly off the plate. Geez. He's already pitching really well, if he keeps getting several inches off the plate, the Angels probably won't get a hit.
  • Cameron Maybin finally gets a hit with two outs in the 6th on a little dribbler up the middle. 
  • Trout follows up with another single, bringing Pujols to the plate. Anyone want to guess what he'll do?
  • Pujols walks and Daniel Murphy makes a beautiful jumping catch to rob Marte of at least two RBIs. Damn baseball is a cruel sport. But that really was a great catch. 
  • Bud Norris - he of the 13.50 ERA in the month of August - comes in for the Angels. Maybe Scioscia figured "Woah, my hitters almost tied the game! This is getting close - I should bring in my worst reliever."
  • The Nationals get another run thanks to a Pujols error. Awesome. He's a terrible batter, he's the slowest player in baseball, and he can't field anymore. The Machine!
  • Bud Norris just got the benefit of a call that was twice as far off the plate as the one Gonzalez got last inning. So the ump isn't biased... he's just really awful. 
  • Trout strikes out to end the 8th inning on a pitch several inches above the strike zone. The announcer says what everyone is thinking: "That's awful."
  • It was awful. See for yourself: 
  • I've watched about 300 different games this year, and this is the worst I have seen a home plate ump. However, he isn't favoring a team, he's just truly terrible tonight. 
  • Nationals win 3-1. On a 1-10 Scale of Painful Losses, that was pretty close to a 1. The Nationals are a much better team than the Angels; they're not in the same league, let alone division, so there's no rivalry; Gonzalez is pitching great this year; everyone saw how many bad calls went against the Angels; old friend Howie Kendrick hit two home runs. 
  • Nolasco pitches for the Angels tomorrow. He has given up more home runs than anyone else in baseball this year. THAT game could be ugly.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Poutine Popper Bacon Cheeseburger

THE GAME: Yankees vs Red Sox

Yes, the Yankees and the Red Sox are two of my four least favorite teams in baseball. But hey, it's Sunday Night Baseball. What else am I gonna watch?

Besides, baseball is just better when those two teams are good. I don't like USC and Notre Dame football, nor the Knicks and Celtics, but their respective sports just don't feel the same when those teams are having down years. 

(Actually, let me take that back about the Knicks. Fuck the Knicks. They haven't been relevant since before I was born.)

My point is, I can watch the Yankees and Red Sox and enjoy the moment for what it is, even if I don't like either team. This game deserved a great meal. 

(Note: when I first came up with the idea for this burger, I thought it would be perfect to make for a big Blue Jays game. But there are no big Blue Jays games this year, as they have been pretty awful.)

NOTES ON THE FOOD: 
  • The base for this burger was a beautiful bacon-and-cheddar patty from my local butcher. It was really hot outside so I decided to cook it in a pan indoors. (And my cast iron pan was filthy and I was too lazy to clean it, so I used a cheap nonstick pan. Whatever.)

  • When the patty was done to my satisfaction - which means pretty rare when it comes to these burgers; I wouldn't eat a burger in a restaurant if it came out this rare unless I was positive about the source of their meat, but I have been eating meat from this butcher for more than three decades and never once gotten sick - I placed it on a soft bun. 
  • Next, I added some rehydrated onions, which have become a favorite of mine over the last few months. 

  • That butcher shop also sells wonderful bacon, which I cook in the oven at 375º until browned but not burnt. It's a delicate balance and usually takes about 45 minutes, though sometimes more and sometimes less. I check it frequently during the last 10 minutes - it can go from perfect to ruined in a matter of seconds. Like the Washington Nationals season. (Too soon?)

  • Poutine is a beloved Canadian dish of fries, cheese curds, and gravy. I wrote about these poutine poppers back in March when I ate them by themselves. Now it was time to eat them with a burger. I fried them for a couple of minutes (I first defrosted them for about thirty seconds in the microwave) and then added a few on top of the bacon. 

  • I considered making my own gravy, but again, I was feeling pretty lazy. And this jar was on sale for $1. If there hadn't been so many other flavors going on, I probably wouldn't have used this, but it was just a drizzle on top of the poppers.
  • The burger was great. A little heavy - I mean, I'm not sure there's any way around that when you take a patty stuffed with bacon and cheddar and then add more bacon and fried cheese curds - so I'm not sure I would make one again. But it was delicious and befitting this game. 

  • I cooked a dozen poppers. Only five of them fit on the burger. So I ate the remaining with Hoboken Eddie's "T-Bone Tickler." 
  • Hoboken Eddie's is one of the three things I miss most about living in New York City, behind the pizza and not having to ever look for parking. The sauces are made with all-natural, fresh ingredients and never include oils or fats. They are, not surprisingly, on the expensive side, and they're not available anywhere on the West Coast. But they're also pretty much the best sauces I have ever had, and once a year I find myself craving some and place an order online. I'm never disappointed.  

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • ESPN starts the broadcast by talking about Aaron Judge's "struggles." Now there's a shock. You mean that .426 BAbip that he put up in the first half wasn't going to continue? Look, he's a fun player to watch, he has a lot of power, and he seems like a good guy, but you made him out to be Babe Ruth in the first half of the season because you're ESPN and that's what you do. Don't act surprised when he turns out to not actually be Babe Ruth. 
  • Speaking of ESPN, here was the headline on their website this morning when I woke up: 
  • How good is that? Harper's possibly season-ending injury could be a problem for the Nationals. What a ballsy prediction! 
  • Seeing Aaron Hicks make a diving catch for the first out in front of the Dunkin Donuts sign brings back memories of stopping by a DD in Brooklyn on Saturday mornings. Their ice coffee was fantastic but their donuts were crap. 
  • Aaron Judge takes a hack at the first pitch and crushes it... ten feet foul. Dan Shulman was about ready to orgasm if it had been fair. 
  • Woah, the announcers are actually mentioning that the Angels are one of the two Wild Card teams at the moment. I'm surprised anyone at the network is aware of that fact. 
  • Sale hasn't allowed a hit through three innings. Who was the last person to throw a no-hitter against the Yankees? Kevin Costner?
  • Well, Yankees get a two-out hit in the 4th so that's over. 
  • Mookie Betts completely misplays a fly ball and Austin Romine ends up with a triple. (Though the inning ends without him scoring and we are still tied at 1.) 
  • Austin Romine's brother Andrew had 174 plate appearances over the course of four seasons with the Angels, and I honestly can't remember a single one of them. 
  • Benintendi got on first, but I don't know how, as I missed the start of the inning watching some Breaking Bad on AMC. I always get sucked in for at least a few minutes. 
  • Leo DiCaprio is in the stadium wearing a Yankees cap. I would love to ask his thoughts on Judge's BAbip in the first half and whether he thought that was sustainable.
  • That reminds me of an anecdote. Six years ago I was attending a late-summer barbecue at a friend's house and found myself sitting at a table with four self-proclaimed Yankees fans. Inside the house, the Yankees were playing the Angels and all four of them were giving me a hard time, proclaiming the Yankees superiority. I asked how many of them could tell me who was pitching for the Yankees that night. (Predictably, none of them could.) 
  • It was C.C. Sabathia, by the way, and the Angels won 6-0 on the back of Dan Haren's complete game. I just looked up the box score on Baseball Reference. You know, if I were stranded on a desert island with a computer with unlimited power and internet access but only Baseball Reference as a working website, I wonder how long it would take before I got bored. I feel like it would be at least two or three months. 
  • Still 1-1 at the 7th inning stretch. I'm not gonna lie, I hope this game goes to extras. 
  • Chris Sale is done for the night with 12 strikeouts. That's his 16th game of the season with more than 10 Ks. Only one Boston pitcher has ever had more: Pedro in 1999... which just happens to be the greatest season I've ever seen any pitcher have. 
  • Matt Barnes comes in to pitch for the Sox. Imagine if the Sox face the Astros in the World Series and Matt Barnes is brought in to face Derek Fisher. 
  • The Yankees get one run in the bottom of the 8th and now Aroldis Chapman is coming in for the save. It's still weird not seeing Mariano. 
  • Chapman hits 103 mph in striking out the first batter, gives his usual "I'm a badass" glare... and then gives up a home run to the rookie Rafael Devers. 
  • That's the first homer Chapman has given up this year. 
  • The Yankees strand a runner on third and we're going to extras, just like I hoped for an hour ago. Free baseball! 
  • ESPN is promoting their Monday and Wednesday Night Baseball broadcasts. You'll never believe this, but they're showing the Yankees vs. the Mets both nights. 
  • The Red Sox draw a hit-by-pitch and two walks and Benintendi hits an RBI single. 3-2 Boston in the 10th. I know I've written this before, but it amazes me that the Red Sox were able to trade for Sale without giving up Benintendi. 
  • Kimbrel gets the save. Great game.