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The Texas Rangers Will Win the World Series and The James Beard Award for Best New Restaurants

Executive Chef Cris "No H" Vasquez holds a Champion Dog. D.J. Pridemore eats the whole thing. (Photography by Micah Nunley)
Perhaps my headline is a tad overzealous, but boy I got so wound up yesterday at the press conference announcing the new line-up of food items to be served this season at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington I could barely drive home. I wanted to stay, slip on a toga, and feast like a hedonistic Roman tart. But I digress.

I’ve already outlined how the Rangers will win the World Series. I’m now prepared to tell you how to plan your caloric intake when you attend a game. The Yu-Darvish moment of late yesterday took place as the Rangers food service management team—Shawn Mattox, Casey Rapp, Philip Wheatley, execuchef Cris Vazquez—revealed their heavy hitter: The Champion Dog ($26.00 with fries). It’s a 2-foot-long-all-beef hot dog topped with shredded cheese, sauteed onions, and chili. The Champion Dog, also sold as the Boomstick (Hi! Nellie!) in the general concessions area, is meant to satisfy four people. However, I watched an eating competition where D.J. Pridemore, a producer for 105.3-FM The Fan, ate a whole one all by himself. He smoked his opponent, the DMN’s Brandon Formby, who never saw the bun (made by Empire Baking Company) coming. Mr. Formby learned that baseball food, like baseball, is a now game of inches.

So Ranger food fans, here’s is news: Vandergriff Plaza (behind centerfield) has been renovated into a food court with FOUR new restaurants, Ryan’s Express 34, Smokehouse 557, Taqueria, and American Dog. They surround the bronze statute of Nolan Ryan. They’ve also added two smoking hot lounges, the Captain Morgan Club and the Batter’s Eye Club). The Kid’s Zone has been moved indoors (thank you) to the south end of the first floor. And the press box will feature sushi for the Japanese media.

Jump for Food Facts and Fun Pictures For Rangers Fans.

Four new restaurants surround the bronze statue of Nolan Ryan. (Photography by Micah Nunley)

The view from the Batter's Eye Club. (Photography by Micah Nunley)

*The one-pound hot dog is so big it actually has two names. Inside the Captain Morgan Club, it’s the Champion Dog. At concession stands outside Sections 16 and 42, it’s the Boomstick (a nod to outfielder Nelson Cruz).

*The Batter’s Eye Club (pictured above) is where I will be seated when, after winning the World Series in GAME FOUR, I watch the players hoist manager Ron Washington over their heads and pass him around the infield like a rag doll. The enclosed 150-seat (air-conditioned!) party suite sits in dead center field. The previously unused space will generate bazillions of dollars: tickets start at $75 a game but the 6,250-square foot room with theater seats, full-service bar, buffet line, and restrooms will be utilized mainly for groups and rentals. Individual seating will be on a game-by-game basis. The view is spectacular.

The Captain Morgan Club. (Photography by Micah Nunley)

*Captain Morgan Club (pictured above). This will be the place to hang when the Rangers are coasting through a game with an 11-run lead. You can’t see the grass from inside unless you watch it on one of the zillions of TVs scattered around the 9,000-square foot two-story bar/restaurant. As the name implies, there will be rum (home rum? sorry) and whiskey, and any other spirits carried by the Diageo brand. The wine list carries BV Coastal, Louis M. Martini, and Beringer, but I also spied a bottle of Barefoot, a bad hangover waiting to happen. The Captain Morgan Club will serve burgers, salads, sandwiches, barbecue, and the, soon-to-be-world-famous, Champion Dog. It will be open to the public before, during, and after games which will make it easy for you to celebrate a victory post-game Courvoisier VS. If you have the bucks, you can also rent the whole space.

*The Budweiser Bowtie at Vandergriff Plaza is the new name for the old area behind center field where you will find four new outdoor restaurants. The American Dog will feature four types of gourmet hot dogs, sausages, and hot dog sliders. The Smokehouse 557, equipped with a “specially built smoker,” will serve huge beef ribs, chopped beef sandwiches, turkey legs (ugh), and corn on the cob. You can find street tacos at Taqueria where they are also making their own flour tortillas. Chef  Vasquez says he doesn’t use any fat. “Only baking powder, flour, and water,” he said. He handed me a real hot one and I found it rather chewy. Perhaps the texture works for holding food long enough to get back to your seat without leakage, but, like I said, it was a little too elastic for my taste buds. The fillings were nice: plenty of fresh grilled, meats, onions, and peppers. Ryan’s Express 34 is all about Nolan Ryan’s beef. Here you will find four big and strong gourmet burgers such as the Tex-Mex burger where two patties are stuffed with cheese, griddled, topped with jalapenos, onions and pico de gallo, and served on fluffy pieces of Texas Toast.

Available at the Captain Morgan Club: Tuscan pasta, chicken Caesar salad. (Photography by Micah Nunley)

Clockwise from top left: Street tacos and home-made flour tortillas at Taqueria. Jalapeno burger at Ryan's Express 34. Tex-Mex burger on Texas Toast. (Photography by Micah Nunley)

*What about the new Japanese fans and media you ask? I’m glad you asked because I did. Ranger PR czar, Executive Vice President of Communications John Blake, expects 20 members of the Japanese media to travel with the team all season. He also predicts close to 60 will crowd into the press box when Yu Darvish pitches. “I have plenty of specials planned for the press box,” said Chef Vasquez. “We will have a sushi station in the Diamond Club, bento boxes with edamame, a whole California roll, and a seaweed salad at the Grab and Go stand.” He also says he’s experimenting with a hot dog and soba noodles. As the season progresses he will roll out new items geared to Japanese fans and media.

*There you have it. The Rangers have invested over $11.5 million to make you happy and fat. Thanks to the installation of new video boards and a high-tech in-park audio system last year, we should have nothing to bitch about. Unless Yu Darvish chokes.

Turkey leg, corn on the cob, beef ribs, and chopped beef sandwich from Smokehouse 557. (Photography by Micah Nunley)