Globe Life Park in Arlington aka The Ballpark in Arlington aka The Home of The Rangers aka Enemy Territory -whatever you call it, it saw the Angels take two of three games earlier this week. But Rangers fans can take solace in beating the Angels in having better stadium food and a better overall baseball stadium.
If you had asked me last week if the Angels should refurbish or tear down Anaheim Stadium, I would have insisted that in my forty-first year of going there as a fan that we keep the stadium. Two games later in a state of the art facility and I am ready to operate the Los Angeles Wrecking Ball of Anaheim on the old concrete heap myself.
For atmosphere, site lines, quality of viewing the game, politeness of the fans, competency/courtesy of the stadium employees, and overall fan experience, the Ballpark in Arlington has good old Angel Stadium of Anaheim beat. The only thing we best them at is better parking, public transportation access, bathroom accessibility, hotness of the chicks at the game and, oh yeah, the team on the field.
That the stadium of our rivals bests ours was tough for me to swallow. But the swallowing was actually the best thing about the Ballpark in Arlington - the food there is amazing.
How amazing? Consider this:
While I was in Dallas on business for eight days I had some great dining experiences. I tried an amazing barbecue place called The Pecan Lodge in the Deep Ellum section of Dallas. Sure, everyone has their favorite particular place but this is a highly regarded top-tier Texas barbecue joint. The barbecue I tried at the stadium was not as good as the Pecan Lodge, but it was close enough. Think about that. There is no food in Anaheim Stadium that is almost as good as the best available food of whatever type of food you are eating there.
I had what is called a "Hot Mess" which is a salted baked potato with cheddar cheese, butter, sour cream and beef brisket. Had to tell 'em to hold the jalapeños. It was $9.50 - fifty cents more than the same offering at the Pecan Lodge. It was amazing and would serve as a meal for me ordinarily. But, well, everything is bigger in Texas. I found out the reason that people in Texas are fat is that the food there is so damn good. If the tongue is the doorman and the stomach is the party, in Texas the mouth just says "everyone's invited in" and the party is on no matter the stomach's capacity.
I ate my "Hot Mess" so fast that I did not get a picture of it. Instead of ordering another I ordered bacon on stick.
It was perhaps the greatest thing ever served at a ballpark. The picture here does not do the thickness of that slab any justice. It was thicker than a fast food hamburger patty and was a thousand times tastier. Was it greasy? Of course it was, that is the best part. There were other choices of bacon at the BACON stand...
It is obvious the Rangers love their fans. Look closer at the menu...
But a baked potato and bacon goodness is hardly the end of it. I was too full to try the "Fried Everything" booth but if you are hungry for junk food check it out...
...and the prices (compared to a lot of ballparks) are about the same, but here the portion sizes are large and filling...
...well, ordinarily I would say the food is filling but there were some BIG Texans around that probably could down more than one deep-fried pickle. But wait, there is more...
That is basically the closest thing to healthy in the upper left, a Kabob. Below that is a taco sort of hot dog wrapping and on the right is a large LARGE hot dog. how large? Two feet long. Note that stuff is being grilled on a Mongolian barbeque back there - not pulled out of tinfoil-wrapped food warmer...
This looks like a sloppy-joe kind of hot dog, also two feet long, and also freshly cooked.
This is the Beltre Burger. I dare you. DARE ya. I wish the Angels had signed Beltre and I wish that Angel Stadium of Anaheim served anything approximating the hearty, tasty and guarantee-fill that is the Beltre Burger.
The stadium has many other concession areas with more traditional ballpark food fare. The portions sizes all top Anaheim's and the prices are pretty close to what you pay to Arte.
There is a "Country Store" in the outfield with healthy options. I got a fruit cup there for roughage. Rangers fan sits next to me, sees I am an Angels fan and says "Okay, we're not gonna have any trouble here tonight are we?" and I say "I'm a fifty year old guy eating a fruit cup, shit's about to get real." We laughed. A few beers later the guy was still cool so there you have it.
When I went looking for ice cream I was told that due to a recall of all Bluebell™-brand ice cream products there was no ice cream available in the stadium. Now you cannot blame the stadium for that, it is a problem with the supplier. BUT, here is something to consider: a food service employee in Anaheim would stare at you and say "No Ice Cream" and you would ask for clarification and they would stare longer and say "No Ice Cream" and you would be left wondering why anyone ever breeds and not be satisfied at all. Here in Arlington I got an answer that preserved the integrity of the team and its stadium operations not to mention giving me a feeling that transparency is a policy here. Just think about it.
A lot of the stadium experiences at ballparks are becoming codified. What works in one fan experience quickly spreads to other teams. We should all hope that Anaheim soon gets some of the deliciousness that is the dining experience of Arlington's ballpark. Otherwise many things we have in Anaheim the Rangers fans have at their place:
•They have well-stocked team store kiosks just like us.
•They have full stadium access so if you have a cheap seat nosebleed ticket you can still get close to the players during BP just like in Anaheim.
•They have the "Six Shooters", pregame souvenir girls just like our "Strike Force" girls.
•Their "Rangers Weekly" hostess is Emily Jones, same job as Alex Curry but nowhere near as hot.
But other stuff they have, WE don't have...
But there IS a twenty-first century championship trophy in Anaheim, so for all the superiority of the Rangers ballpark and dining, that is one fan experience I would never trade.
If you are thinking of going on a team road trip, airfare to Dallas is cheap, the city is hopping with all sorts of stuff to see. If you are Irish Catholic, you can now drive in a convertible downtown without fear of getting shot from sixth floor windows or grassy knolls. The food is the best I have ever had and I have one of those high maintenance California diets that means I have to ask forty questions every time I order and I had a great time.
And the locals - at the stadium and around town - are unfailingly polite.
Oh, and I took a beer tester along. Well, like everywhere, the stadium has high beer prices, so OMAHAHALOFAN took a pregame detour to Redneck Heaven. Combine Hooters with the Dukes of Hazard and you get an idea of what the place was like.
I will be back to try a Nolan Ryan Burger. If my wife kicks me out of the house, I will be back to try a burger and a waitress.
So the final thing to test was the beer at the stadium. Again, my brave companion took the plunge and, well, look at the ninth-inning zen-like satisfaction on OMAHAHALOFAN's face and you tell me if the beer selection at the stadium is not worth the trip:
Of course, the Angels were winning when the photo was shot and he might still have been thinking about those waitresses, right?