Image for article titled The Ballpark Demands Better Food Etiquette

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God, I love baseball. The crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, the vague urinal cake smell of the stadium. The sheer ubiquity of Dippin’ Dots. It’s America’s favorite pastime, a great equalizer—and, in my experience, an excuse for people to shed any and all social graces and behave like complete maniacs. That collective mania is part of the fun; if you’re lucky, you’ll see your high school principal mooning the Kiss Cam while armed with a 32-ounce beer and a giant pickle spear. But this week, the MLB was embroiled in not one, but two hot dog scandals that led me to an unsettling conclusion: baseball fans have completely forgotten how to behave around food.

The first hot dog scandal erupted on Friday, April 22. Nicolas Heller tweeted a video of a Yankees fan Dunking a hot dog into a beer under the caption, “Arrest this man.” There are a lot of things wrong with this behavior, most notably the way the anonymous fan gently taps the hot dog on the rim of his beer before taking a bite. Truly chilling stuff.

The second incident was less of a scandal and more of a party foul. On Tuesday, April 26, Phillies announcer John Kruk suffered a bit of a head injury during the customary mid-game hot dog toss at Citizens Bank Ballpark. Kruk was hanging in the booth with the Phillie Phanatic, one of the MLB’s supreme mascots. The two were chucking hot dogs out of the booth when, egad, Kruk’s giant hot dog hat fell off. He bent down to pick it up, and the Phanatic’s flailing sent Kruk flying headfirst into the wall of the booth. Kruk was fine, but I see this—along with the beer-dunked hot dog—as a cautionary tale about ballpark mayhem. Thus, let’s review the basic principles of ballpark food conduct.

Do: Remain in control of your faculties

John Kruk’s unfortunate head bonk wasn’t anyone’s fault, but it’s a good reminder to keep your wits about you at the ballpark. When you think about it, a baseball game is one giant accident waiting to happen. You could trip and fall down the steep stadium stairs while eating a hot dog, killing you instantly. You could slosh beer onto a small boy seated below you. A foul ball could render you unconscious just as you’re biting into a fried Snickers. Just keep it tight, folks. Keep it tight.

Don’t: Do weird stuff with hot dogs

Listen, I’m not gonna tell you what to do. If you truly need to dip your hot dog into a 16-ounce Coors to feel alive, I’m not stopping you. But there’s no reason to waste a perfectly good dog on a viral stunt. If you must, mess around with a chicken finger or a tortilla chip. Ballpark dogs are sacred.

Do: Spring for novelty dishware

The Takeout team boasts a few baseball fans, and we all agree: the souvenir ball cap bowls are primo. Yes, they’re adorable—but they’re also the only vessel that allows you to consume your cheesy nachos or melty ice cream sundae with zero chance of spillage. Eating an ice cream cone during the sixth inning? Foolish. Eating an ice cream sundae out of a giant plastic bowl during the sixth inning? Genuinely foolproof.

Don’t: Spring for the $25 root beer float

I’ve fallen prey to the giant ballpark root beer float more times than I can count. It’s usually after two or three beers, when I’ve convinced myself that I’m invincible and can conquer a giant soda pop mixed with three cows’ worth of dairy. When it comes to sweet treats, trust me: get the smallest option possible. If your ballpark only offers the big guns, recruit a few members of your party to help you tame the best.

Do: Stay hydrated

Ballpark rules vary; some allow guests to bring their own water bottles, and some do not. My beloved Guaranteed Rate Field allows guests to bring in sealed water bottles, so I’ll usually bring four or five just for me. This is especially important if you’ll be drinking, which I… typically am. Just don’t get too hydrated—you don’t want to miss entire innings queuing up for the bathroom.

Do: Clean up after yourself

Take it from me, a former movie theater employee: someone has to clean up your spilled peanuts and Cracker Jack. Back in my projectionist days, my coworkers and I had to trawl the theaters for detritus after every screening—and you would be shocked to hear about some of the things we found. That was at a movie theater roughly 50,000 times smaller than your average MLB park. Moviegoers and sports spectators all seem to think that their discarded nacho containers will simply evaporate into thin air, but that is not the case. Someone has to pick up after you. Please keep that in mind the next time you decide to leave ketchup-covered napkins crammed into your cup holder.

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