Scenes from Spring Training: What the heck is a feetlong hot dog?
I met a cool guy today. That’s him. His name is Kwang Min Park, a baseball journalist from South Korea. His nickname, however, is Agassi. Yes, because he likes Andre Agassi. As you might expect, Agassi was here today to cover Shin-Soo Choo. I saw him interviewing Choo in the clubhouse, and he sat next to me in the press box.
The pic to the right was taken during the bottom of the seventh after Agassi bought the giant chili dog he’s holding. He set it down and took a picture of it and then considered it for a moment. Then he asked me what I’d call it.
Me: A footlong hot dog.
Agassi: A ... foot?
Me: Yes. Like the English system of measurement. It’s 12 inches, and 12 inches is a foot.
Agassi then did something with his phone. I think he was using a visual measuring app of some sort. After looking at it he seemed a little confused.
Agassi: Why is it not a “feetlong” hot dog?
He then showed me his phone, which revealed the true measurement to be around 13 inches. It thus gave him a read out of 1.08 “feet.” With some difficulty -- using my actual feet as an example -- I explained to him the difference between the singular and the plural of “footlong hotdog.” He shook his head and said “I feel like I’m in kindergarten.”
I tried to tell him that the real problem was our failure to adopt the metric system, but I don’t know that I salvaged his self esteem on the point. Matt LaWell, a freelancer who had been hanging out with us, suggested that he call it a “third meter dog,” but Agassi was clearly of the “when in Rome” school.
Agassi dutifully typed in his impressions of his feetlong chili dog to his computer. He then cut the dog into sections. I declined a taste. Matt accepted. At which point Agassi asked him if it was any good compared to other feetlong chilidogs Matt had consumed. Matt writes about food as well as baseball, so he was prepared to give a full review: the dog and chili were acceptable, but the bun was a tad crunchy as opposed to spongy, thereby harming one’s first impression of the dog. On a scale of one to ten, Matt gave it a six.
At that point the conversation spun into a debate about the merits of Cincinnati chili vs. Texas chili and poor Agassi’s head was close to exploding. Matt and I explained that, no matter what he took from today’s events, he must be clear on the point that people in this country will kill one another over their love of a particular regional style of chili, and he best not forget it.
Agassi nodded. I could be wrong, but I think he then changed his plane reservations to get himself out of this insane country and back to South Korea as fast as he could. I mean, sure, people may start killing one another on the Korean peninsula any minute now and that’s awful, but at least there are better reasons for it than one’s taste in chili.
Just another day at the ballpark.