July 4th in New York used to mean baseball.
Now it means Wieners.
On past Independence Days, the Mets or the Yankees would have a double-header at home. Family would hover around the radio and listen to the game while at the beach or while shooting fireworks at each other in the park.
This year, the Mets are in Colorado, playing a night game. The Spanks are home but who really cares?
That leaves only one real sporting event in town tomorrow: Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, in Coney Island, NY.
The 91st annual contest will be held July 4, 2007, and will be televised live on ESPN at 12 p.m. EDT. Six-time defending champion Takeru "Tsunami" Kobayashi will attempt to win his seventh straight contest.
This year’s meal-to-the-death may be the most dramatic ever. According to Smiley Buzz:
American Joey Chestnut destroyed the hot dog eating world record during a qualifying event in May, consuming 59-1/2 hot dogs in 12 minutes. (That's right – nearly 5 hot dogs a minute.) This eclipsed the previous record of 53-3/4 hot dogs held by Japanese chomper and six-time Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating contest winner Takeru Kobayashi. It also marked the first time in over ten years that the record was held by an American (1996 - Ed "The Animal" Kratchie).
Adding to the thrill, Kobayashi has come down with a mysterious jaw malady. He has been working out furiously, trying to get into eating shape before tomorrow. This is what these athletes train all year for. Wish them luck.
Why else should Met fans care? Two reasons:
- Nathans held one of the qualifying heats for the Independence Day championship at Shea June 3.
- According to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, Met fans are the biggest fans of hot dogs. Ever. In the council's 2007 survey of the most passionate hot dog fans in Major League Baseball ballparks, Shea Stadium came in first. Will Citi Field keep that tradition alive?
BTW, The Council also says the Fourth of July is the high point of summer's hot dog eating: Americans will scarf down 150 million of them that day alone. Most of them will be eaten in Coney Island.