I gorged myself at Dodger Stadium's all-you-can-eat pavilion.

The stadium scene.
April 18 2007 1:33 PM

All-You-Can-Eat Baseball

I gorged myself at Dodger Stadium and lived to tell about it. Barely.

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"I believe it will be a more highly evolved form of nacho," he said. "It still contains all the basic elements."

He took several studious bites.

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"It's fantastic," he said. "It represents the best of American and Mexican culture on one bun. Welcome to L.A."

That's pushing it a bit far, I thought.

He tossed me a bag of peanuts.

"Here," he said. "You need some protein."

By the second inning, the Dodgers were down 6-0. The Padres had Jake Peavy, possibly the best pitcher in the National League, on the mound. I had time to do the math. My three sodas would have cost $14.25 at a normal game, though these were 12-ouncers instead of the usual 24, so let's divide that in half and say $7. I wouldn't have purchased three sodas for myself at a normal game, of course, but I was working with Pavilion Logic here. The water was a $3.75 value, and the two orders of nachos I'd consumed would have set me back $12. Add a $4.50 bag of peanuts to the equation, and that came to $27.25 worth of food on my $35 ticket. Of course, this is according to a horribly inflated ballpark pricing scheme. Also, beer and sweets, what you crave after eating a metric ton of salty carbohydrates, weren't among the all-you-can-eat offerings: A stick of cotton candy is an extra $5.50.

Last season, I could get in and out of Dodger Stadium for $30. Of course, I park in the neighborhood, hoard my food, and usually sneak around to better seats. I realize that all fans aren't as enterprising. Still, according to Pavilion Logic, I'd gotten my money's worth. Which was good, because I was already starting to feel sick. So was The Rabbi.

Then, out of nowhere, guys began running through the aisles and flinging bite-sized Baby Ruth bars into the crowd. The crowd went berserk, clawing their arms in the air like starving zombie prisoners of war at a brain buffet. I later learned that some MLB teams are allowing Baby Ruth to sponsor the seventh-inning stretch this season. The Dodgers are one of these teams. They've sold "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" to Nestlé, a European corporation. Paging Lou Dobbs!

*****

As we walked down the hill toward our car, the concessions guy who'd been serving us nachos all night skipped along beside us. He liked working the pavilion, he said. He didn't have to deal with arguing with people over change. It was easy and fun and he got to give people what they wanted. Plus, he lived in the neighborhood and could walk to work. What a Utopian dream, I thought, as I clutched my stomach. I felt dizzy and wretched.

Twenty minutes passed in a hazy blur of reduced vision and clammy skin. The next thing I knew, I was moaning for seltzer and The Rabbi was pulling into the parking lot of an ampm minimart. What a coincidence, I thought, since ampm happens to be the sponsor of the ampm All You Can Eat Pavilion.

This irony was further compounded when I got out of the car, bent over a parking pylon, and upchucked a cupful of partially digested jalapeños and nacho cheese. And then I did it again, followed by a magnificent spray of liquid vomit.

When I'd agreed to this assignment, I'd anticipated something a little gross, and a little seedy, but mostly fun. It hadn't occurred to me that I'd be undertaking a baseball-themed cut-rate Morgan Spurlock experiment. In my heaving misery, I stared at my excrescence and thought, this puddle of putrid poison vomit is brought to you by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Six decades ago, as ESPN interminably reminded us Sunday night, the Dodgers took a major step toward integrating American society by sending Jackie Robinson out to play first base. Thanks largely to the Dodgers' efforts, America now lives in a state of permanent racial harmony, and the team can occupy itself with more contemporary matters. We may be 3,000 miles from Brooklyn, but these are still the Dodgers, in all their deep-blue-clad nobility. This offseason, channeling the franchise's generous spirit, current Dodgers owner Frank McCourt made his own contribution to baseball's tradition of spiritual uplift. He transformed the right-field bleachers at Dodger Stadium into the ampm All You Can Eat Pavilion. And Saturday night, as I leaned out the window of The Rabbi's car and trailed the contents of my stomach, like a stream of airplane vapor, down the street where I live, I realized that baseball, and America, will never be the same.

Neal Pollack is the author of Alternadad. He lives in Austin, Texas.