SYRACUSE — In minor league baseball, promotions are the name of the game.
It’s a sad fact of life that minor league teams don’t actually play to win games. They play to develop future major-league players.
So to make the ballgames more attractive to ticket-buyers, minor league general managers have to get creative and offer giveaways, dollar concessions, bobbleheads, celebrity appearances and – old faithful – post-game fireworks.
Local Triple-A East GMs, Jason Smorol for the Syracuse Mets and Dan Mason for the Rochester Red Wings, are riding the wave of a culinary-themed promotion dating back to 2017 in which their respective teams transform themselves into the Syracuse Salt Potatoes and the Rochester Plates.
The so-called Duel of the Dishes allows each city’s fans to celebrate a hometown recipe.
In the first game of the 2021 Duel of the Dishes on Aug. 5 at Rochester’s Frontier Field, a pitcher’s duel ended with a 2-1 Plates walk-off victory over the Salt Potatoes.
Game two of the series is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 28, at Syracuse’s NBT Bank Stadium. If necessary, game three will be played here at 1:05 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 29. The victor will win the eight-foot-tall Golden Fork trophy, thought to be one of the largest such trophies in existence.
The duel’s history has seen the Golden Fork rolling east and west along the Thruway. In 2018, Rochester won 2-1 in 10 innings in game one before claiming the trophy in game two by a score of 3-1. The following year, Syracuse dominated the sole Duel of the Dishes game, by a score of 11-3. No duel was fought in 2020.
On Aug. 28, fans will not only get to watch the Salt Potatoes take on the Plates, but the home team will marry its favorite salt potato couple. The first 1,000 fans through the gates on Aug. 28 will receive a Salt Potatoes Wedding Bobblehead, marrying Mr. and Ms. Salt Potato in a single bobblehead doll, courtesy of Coca-Cola. After the game, fans can enjoy a post-game fireworks extravaganza.
“The butter will never taste sweeter or saltier than when we beat the Plates and keep the Golden Fork in Syracuse,” said Salt Potatoes/Mets GM Jason Smorol. The Syracuse executive called Rochester Garbage Plates, “The world’s most horrible dish!”
In response, Rochester GM Dan Mason scorned the very idea of salt potatoes.
“We look forward to proving our superiority on the diamond and in the kitchen,” Mason said. “Seriously, if you never ate another salt potato in your life would you even care?”
While the Golden Fork trophy stands tall as the main prize, this season the stakes are even higher. The losing team will provide a cap giveaway featuring the winning team logo at a 2022 game. And one lucky fan from the winning team’s market will throw out a ceremonial first pitch prior to a game at the losing team’s ballpark.
NBT Bank Stadium is located next to the Regional Market, at 1 Tex Simone Drive, off East Hiawatha Boulevard. Ticket prices range from $14 to $18 for individual game seats. Four-top tables are available for $63, and drink rail seating is available for $32. Parking is $5, cash only. For more information visit syracusemets.com or call 315-474-7833.
All Syracuse Mets games are broadcast by WSKO-AM The Score 1260, with Mike Tricarico and color commentator Evan Stockton. The Score 1260 is a part of the Cumulus Radio Group.
Which is better: salt or garbage?
Seriously, which is better?
The historically significant and relatively nutritional salt potatoes created more than a century ago by Irish salt boilers? Or the disorganized combo of starch, grease and hot sauce invented three decades ago by drunken college students?
As they play out the Duel of the Dishes, the Syracuse Salt Potatoes go up against the Rochester Plates, named in honor of the infamous Rochester Garbage Plates.
The Red Wings couldn’t call themselves Garbage Plates because that term was trademarked in 1992 by the late Rochester restaurateur Nick Tahou. As a result of Tahou’s claim, other area eateries offer the same messy meal under different monikers, i.e. trash plates, rubbish plates, junkyard plates and even schmutz plates.
An authentic garbage plate is a mix of meat (usually burger or hot dog), home fries, macaroni salad and topped with hot sauce such as Coach Tony’s Gourmet Meat Sauce. Other versions incorporate Italian sausages, steak, chicken, beans, a grilled cheese sandwich, fried fish or eggs.
Nutritionally, which is better for you?
While the superabundance of sodium and the addition of more than 40 grams of fat in the form of melted butter may make salt potatoes suspect, the garbage plates are far more physically threatening. In fact, the plates are considered one of the unhealthiest meals in the world.
Let’s look at the numbers. According to myfitnesspal.com, a serving of salt potatoes contains 110 calories, 26 grams of carbs, 46 grams of fat in the butter, and three grams of protein. A generic garbage plate, on the other hand, may contain as much as 3,595 calories, 282 grams of carbs, 202 grams of fat, and 187 grams of protein.