May 18, 2024

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How the Twins celebrated their summer sausages: they sparked offence, but should they eat them?

How the Twins celebrated their summer sausages: they sparked offence, but should they eat them?

CHICAGO – With Abby Froman unavailable, she called hot dog expert Elias Cairo to address Rocco Baldelli's concerns about the potentially dangerous packaged meats currently in the Minnesota Twins' clubhouse.

Nearly a week after it arrived and with visible signs of wear and condensation on the packaging, the Twins' Year 6 headteacher indicated he was concerned about what would happen if and when the plastic shield surrounded a pre-cooked summer sausage, something the Twins had spent the past week In touch and throw, celebrating the offensive awakening, and in the end, a tear.

During an interview Sunday morning, Baldelli expressed his belief that such an event would be bad for any of his players or coaches carrying the package. Despite opening a three-game series on the South Side Monday night, we couldn't get a hold of Froman; “Chicago's hot dog king.” But Cairo, a charcuterie company that operates four restaurants in Oregon as well as Olympia Provisions and a 58,000-square-foot warehouse loaded with cured meats, downplayed Baldelli's concerns about the sausage's safety.

“I'll eat it,” Cairo said, laughing. “In theory, it's all about extending the shelf life of the product, and summer sausage is the finished product. It's all based on science. … For something to reach shelf stability, it means it can't spoil. It will lose its quality and oxidize. It will start to taste bad.” A little bit, but it gets to a point where pathogens shouldn't grow.

Five days after the hot dog story, Baldelli envisioned hazmat suits and a possible location for an EPA fund.

The Twins originally brought Cloverdale Original Tangy Summer Sausage into their dugout in the middle of last Thursday's game at a time when they couldn't muster much offense against struggling Chicago White Sox outfielder Michael Soroka.

With the sausage, the twin bats suddenly woke up.

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The Twins belted five home runs in a 16-hitter span and went on to win their fourth straight game, which prompted hitting coach David Popkins to give the hot dogs to catcher Ryan Jeffers, who volunteered to transport the packaged meat across the country to Anaheim, California.

A Twins offense that had been lethargic in the first 20 games of the season continued to explode, producing 32 runs in a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels. During the series, cameras captured players touching hot dogs for luck before at-bats and included them in home run celebrations, particularly after Carlos Santana's back-and-forth hit early in Saturday's win.

Ever the legendary sport, Twins players continue to keep hot dogs, despite not refrigerating them. Here lies Baldelli's concern that his club will become ground zero for an infectious disease.

“I could just look at it and feel it and know that it was disgusting, and that you could definitely get sick if this thing opened up,” Baldelli said. “It's in the package, but it's not vacuum sealed. … It's in Bob's closet right now. If this thing just opened up, I might throw up. That's how cruel it is.”

Baldelli expressed his concerns during a pregame interview on Sunday, noting that any player or coach who was near the package when it was opened was in “big trouble.” He reviewed the package sometime Saturday and began to worry.

Two days later, after the hot dogs returned across the country in a Ziploc bag inside Jeffers' shoe, the package was in even worse condition. The team already has plans to eventually replace Hot Dog once his winning streak ends. (There's talk of Sheboygan's two-foot hot dogs.)

The problem is that the Twins are hitting for the first time all season. Throughout the 7-13 start, the Twins' offense was poor, hitting .195/.281/.329 and scoring 3.7 runs per game.

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During their seven-game winning streak, the Twins scored 8.1 runs per game and hit .348/.406/.602.

Coming off the injured list, shortstop Carlos Correa was excited to participate in the team's hot dog fest.

“Now we have hot dogs and all that,” Correa said. “I need to get some of that. It's so weird, so gross, but at the same time it works, so we'll stick with it.”

Baldelli certainly doesn't mince words when it comes to sausages. He wants no part of it and will not advise players on how to store it properly.

Jeffers, who hit a tying home run in Thursday's win over the Chicago White Sox, also downplayed concerns, noting that the packaging was not wet and that players were not “walking around with raw meat.”

However, Jeffers knows he has to be vigilant.

“Eventually, we're going to have to replace the hot dogs to avoid the health department knocking on our door,” Jeffers said. “(Baldelli) doesn't want another pandemic. He doesn't want another Covid-19 pandemic from our sausages. We don't want a Minnesota Twins hot dog to spark another global crisis. So we'll see. it is fun. it is fun.”

If there was a health crisis associated with it, “Patient Zero” would be veteran player Kyle Farmer. He's the player who brought the package onto the field last week after Cloverdale sent it to him. Farmer and his family participated in a Cloverdale ad last season and the company sent him a thank-you package.

“I was just hoping someone would take it home to eat,” Farmer said. “I didn't know it was going to end up in the bunker, with people slapping hot dogs. … You never would have thought that deli meat would be thrown in people's faces.

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One expert sides with Baldelli given how the hot dogs are handled.

Bob Komanetsky, manager of Bolyard's Meat and Provisions in St. Louis, also wonders how the package will hold up after spending the better part of five days in the bunker, and how that might affect water activity.

“I won't eat it,” Komanetsky said. “It requires chemical analysis to do that. Most summer sausages are not dried. They have to be smoked. If they're tightly sealed, they probably have a shelf life. But I always make the mistake of not eating that if it's not cold.”

However, Cairo, a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, guarantees the hot dog as long as the packaging is intact. He completed his professional chef training after spending five years in Switzerland studying under Master Chef Annegret Schlumpf. He's a big believer in shelf-stable products.

“The only thing that can happen is if it's in a dugout in the summer — and we're talking about August in Arizona — and it gets too hot, it will get greasy and it won't be as palatable or flavorful,” Cairo said.

Despite his frustration, Baldelli doesn't seem too worried. The twins plan to get rid of their current hot dog as soon as it goes missing and replace it with another one once they return home.

Right now, all Baldelli cares about is that his team is thinking about hot dogs and not bad batting averages.

“That's what you're looking for,” Baldelli said. “He plays great and doesn't think about anything, except the sausages, apparently.”

(Photo of Carlos Santana catching summer hot dogs off Ryan Jeffers after a home run: John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)