Last week, an idiot fan ran on the field during an Astros game at Minute Maid Park. He juked and jived but was caught by security guards, pinned against the outfield fence and escorted off the field, into the waiting arms of law enforcement.
As usual, TV cameras turned away from the intruder and announcers gave the yadda yadda about about responsible stadium behavior. You do NOT trespass on a Major League Baseball field.
Meanwhile, fans tend to cheer these undocumented fence jumpers, and whoop as they elude the grasp of porky security guards and police. And with cell phone cameras, video of sports interlopers earn thousands of views online. Last week’s Astros scamp is an internet sensation. At least it’s funny when fans in the stands wreck his escape by pushing him back onto the field.
What happens to these rascals, who are usually fueled by demon rum, is unclear. Usually, they’re hauled off to jail, where they are processed, and handed a fine, several lifetime sentences of community service and a short ban from the ballpark.
Yeah, teams hate when a fan disrupts a game by running onto the field.
Well … now they do. Baseball is all grown up. Back in the ‘70s, one team (do you even have to ask with one?) PAID a streaker to leap the rail by first base and sprint to the centerfield wall at the Astrodome.
I had lunch with Bobby Risinger, the Astros former director of public relations and media, a while back. He told me the story. Let’s crank up Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine to 1976.
Risinger said, "I was getting ready for the game, it was a Friday night against the Phillies, when (Astros owner) Sidney Shlenker came up to me in the press box and said, 'I've got a special promotion for tonight.' "
Shlenker began his baseball career in the Astros marketing department, so he was no stranger to, let’s say, creative promotions. Risinger called him a “real Barnum and Bailey kind of guy.” When Shlenker said that night’s promotion was “special,” Risinger knew damage control may be needed.
Shlenker said, "I've hired a streaker tonight, Bobby. Get ready, at the end of the fifth inning, a girl is going to jump over the railing on the first base side and run to the outfield fence and escape through the door we have out there. I've got it all organized; it's not a problem."
When a “Barnum and Bailey guy” says “no problem” … get ready for a problem.
"Streaking was a big fad in the '70s. Mr. Shlenker wanted to do something that would get us a lot of attention. The bottom of the fifth rolls around, I'm watching, and this very shapely young lady takes off her shirt, then her shorts, and jumps onto the field and starts running. She's completely naked.
The two policemen in the Astros dugout start chasing her. She makes it all the way to the outfield fence, opens the door and disappears under the stands," Risinger said.
So where’s the problem?
"The policemen followed her through the outfield door and arrested her," Risinger said.
"She's telling them, 'No, no, no … I'm with the Astros! They hired me to do this!' But the police didn't believe her, and they're getting ready to take her away. Mr. Shlenker hears about this and runs down there. He tells the cops that it's okay, 'She's with us. I'm the one who hired her. We paid her to do that.' Well, the police weren't having any of it.
"The police told Shlenker, 'We don't care who hired her, she's going to jail. You can't run naked in a stadium and not get arrested.'
"Mr. Shlenker pleaded with the cops not to take her to jail, but they did. The poor girl was caught in the middle. She eventually got a ticket and was released.”
There’s only one way to settle this: I’m going to release my own “Top 100 Restaurants in Houston – Normal People Edition.”
No to Michael Vick
I saw a promo for Fox’s NFL pre-game show and, seriously? They’ve hired Michael Vick as an analyst? Fox couldn’t find somebody who hasn’t done prison time for running a dog fighting ring?
Here’s the thing, some things are unforgivable, and torturing and killing animals for fun, is high on the list. That’s what Michael Vick did. Done. Finished.
I’m not against Fox hiring second chance athletes. Bank robbers? Second chance. Hollywood makes comedy films about bank robbers. Dog Day Afternoon and Take the Money and Run are two of my favorite movies ever. When Hollywood makes a comedy about killing dogs by soaking them with hoses and electrocuting them, then I’ll listen to Michael Vick explain the 3-4 defense.
Goodbye chicken salad sandwich, we hardly ate ye
When I covered television for the late Houston Post, people would ask me, “I loved that show! Why did it get canceled?”
Answer: “There’s only one reason a show gets canceled — not enough people were watching it.”
It has nothing to do with quality. Some network would give Kim Jong Un a late-night talk show if he pulled ratings. Joey Buttafuoco once boxed female wrestler Joanie “Chyna” Lauer in prime time. They’ll put anything on TV if there’s a chance people will watch.
Now people are asking, “Why is Chick-fil-A discontinuing chicken salad sandwiches?” It’s flying the coop on September 30. While I don’t sit on Chick-fil-A’s board of directors, it’s a safe bet the reason is … not enough people were buying chicken salad sandwiches.
There may be a couple of other reasons. Chick-fil-A is about smarter choices these days. While a chicken salad sandwich may sound like a healthier option to Chick-fil-A’s original breaded and deep-fried chicken sandwich, their chicken salad sandwich actually has more calories and fat.
Chicken salad sandwich: 500 calories, 21 fat grams. Fried chicken sandwich: 440 calories, 19 fat grams. Blame the mayonnaise in chicken salad. Mayo is the devil’s condiment.
Another reason, and it’s part of Chick-fil-A’s success, CFA has a simple and limited menu. If it sells, it stays. Go into a Carl’s Jr. and checking out the menu board is like reading a phone book. Which leads us to …
Of all the fast food chains in America, Chick-fil-A has, by far, the best sales per store. You may notice the traffic jam in the parking lot. In 2016, Chick-fil-A’s 2,102 restaurants averaged $4.4 million in sales. What chain racked up the second-best average?
I recently had a small, but life-changing, experience in Nice, my favorite foreign city in the South of France. The apartment I rented didn’t have soap in the bathroom (I’m going back to hotels), so I went to the Cours Saleya farmer’s market and bought a bar of locally made “Passion Fruit” soap made with vegetable oil.
Like I said, small thing, but I’d never seen soap like this. I jumped in the shower, and the soap was billowing suds like a car wash. I was covered with bubbles three inches thick. I stayed in the shower until the hot water ran out. Not only did the soap have a delightful fruity aroma, but with a vegetable oil base, I was completely non-stick.
When I returned home, I thought, I can’t go back to Dial soap. It’s so boring and un-sudsy. I figured Whole Foods was my best shot, and there it was, a whole display of “South of France Natural Body Care” soaps. I’m hooked on “Orange Blossom Honey.” Wanna smell me?
Trivia answer: Whataburger, based in Texas, averaged $2.7 million in sales across its 805 restaurants in 2016. For comparison, Subway, No. 1 in locations with 23,700 restaurants in America, averaged only $422,000 in sales.
By the way, if you can’t live another day without Chick-fil-A’s chicken salad, the company has published the recipe on its website — chick-fil-a.com.