Today is Opening Day — the real Opening Day, not that Japanese thing from last week or that post-sundown thing from last night. And in honor of this national holiday — the Holiest of Holies, as Robert Marshall calls it — I’ve embedded my favorite baseball anthem, “We Want a Hit,” at the top of the page. I’ll have it on heavy rotation today, and I strongly suggest you do the same.
The Rangers don’t play their first game until tomorrow, but Ian Kinsler is already in midseason uni-form, so to speak. On Monday he made a sliding play in the outfield and emerged with the “A” flopping off of his jersey (photos by Andrew Woolley; click all of today’s photos to enlarge):
And on Tuesday Kinsler’s hair was poking through the vents on his batting helmet (screen shots by Marcus Solis):
If these two games are any indication, Kinsler is primed for a helluva season. Torn pants, a broken belt, maybe an NOB typo — big things, Ian, I’m expecting big things.
The A’s played two regular season games in Japan last week but then came to the States and played four more spring training games . That led to an odd situation that reader Mike Rowinski picked up on: “During Tuesday night’s A’s/Giants game, I noticed in the 1st inning that Brandon Allen had his Japan Series hat on. Someone else must have noticed too, because by the second inning he had changed hats”:
Speaking of the Bay Area, DT Tobener has spotted something that the rest of us (or at least I) missed: The sleeve piping on the Giants’ new headspooned road grays has moved up from the edge of the cuff to an inch or so above the edge:
And no, that isn’t a case of botched stitching or random stripe placement — those two stripe positionings are noted in the 2011 and 2012 MLB Style Guides, respectively. So this is a case of a very subtle but intentional adjustment.
Meanwhile, a few quick notes from last night’s Cards/Marlins game:
• Rafael Furcal is the latest player to be wearing one of those little protective cast thingies on his hand while running the bases (screen shot by Scott Novosel).
• Carlos Beltran had a similar but less cast-like contraption on his hand when he ran the bases.
• We got our first clear view of how the Marlins’ stadium patch looks on a jersey.
• Ditto for the Cards’ championship patch.
Okay, I’m talking the rest of the day off. Can’t wait to see the Mets in their glorious black-free uniforms this afternoon. Whoever you’re rooting for, hope you’re playing hookie so you can watch them (and if you’re team isn’t playing until tomorrow, the rest of us will have an extra hot dog for you today). It’s been a long winter — now let’s play ball.
Culinary Corner: Let’s say you like your steak medium-rare. The problem, as you may have noticed over the years, is that a medium-rare steak is only medium-rare in the center but gray toward the edges, because the surface of the meat near the heat tends to cook a bit more. So whatever your preferred doneness is, you usually end up with a gradation — well done at the edges, rarer toward the center. A uniform level of doneness, with the same color and texture running throughout the meat, is almost impossible to achieve.
Until now. Thanks to a technique that’s been making the rounds since it appeared in a cookbook last year and was then featured in a New York Times article back in January, you can have a steak that’s blissfully free of that gray surface ring yet still has a nicely browned crust. And all you need, aside from a good piece of beef, is a freezer and — get this — a blow torch.
Here’s the deal: Start with a steak about an inch and a half thick and pop it in the freezer overnight (yes, I realize it seems counterintuitive to freeze a good steak, but work with me here). When you’re ready to cook, remove the steak from the freezer and place it on a rimmed baking sheet.
Next, take a propane torch (preferably one with an on/off switch instead of the kind that you have to light with a spark; if you don’t have one, you can pick one up at the hardware store for about $40) and use it to sear the top and sides of the steak. Keep the flame moving so you don’t overchar or scorch any given spot, and keep going until the meat’s surface looks appetizingly browned. Basically, it should look like a fully cooked steak, even though it will still be frozen everywhere but on the surface (photos by Kirsten Hively; click to enlarge):
When the steak surface looks good, pop it into a very slow oven — 200º or even less, if your oven will go that low. Between the frozen steak and low oven temperature, the cooking time will take a while. Figure on at least an hour, depending on the oven temp and the steak’s thickness. After 45 minutes or so you can stick a meat thermometer into the side of the steak and see how it’s doing (you can’t get the thermometer in there at the beginning of the process because, again, the steak starts out frozen). For medium-rare, you’re shooting for the low 120s.
When the steak hits your desired internal temp, take it out of the oven and let it stand for 10 minutes before serving. When you slice it open, you’ll find an absolutely uniform level of doneness with no no gray ring:
Gorgeous, right? This is because the blow torch only cooks the very top surface of the frozen meat, and the slow oven lets the rest of the steak cook evenly.
A few notes on this process:
• For reasons that aren’t clear to me, the articles I’ve read regarding this technique all say to torch just one side of the steak before popping it in the oven. This means the other side doesn’t end up with a charred crust. Next time I’m gonna trying torching both sides.
• You know how a steak usually arrives at the table sizzling at the surface? You don’t get that with this technique. Also, the meat may get cold (or at least room temp) more quickly than usual. You can counter both of these issues by using the old steakhouse trick of preheated plates and a drizzle of hot melted butter.
• You may be wondering, as I was, if the torch imparts a propane odor or flavor to the meat. The answer is no. Even when I held the finished steak right up to my nose, the only aroma I got was of nicely cooked beef.
• Playing with a blow torch is really, really fun. What should I use it for next?
As you’ve probably heard, data from the 1940 census was made available to the public this week. That’s the subject of a new post on Permanent Record.
Uni Watch News Ticker: A Nike/NFL change that I missed: The Titans used to have a contrasting navy collar. But now it’s light blue, like the rest of the jersey (big thanks to Joseph Walker). … Utah State will unveil its now logo and branding package on April 28 (from Karson Kalian). … Andre Torres hooked up with Pro Helmet Decals to create some custom bat knob designs for himself and his kids. … Nice Missouri helmet history video segment here (from Rob Bratney). … Here are two very cool March Madness infographics, based on team colors (from Robin Edgerton). … Remember how Phil Knight was suggesting that the Longhorns might wear those new practice uniforms on Sept. 1 against Wyoming? A reader who prefers to remain anonymous checks in with this: “One of my good friends works for Texas equipment. These jerseys were shown to the players last Wednesday in anticipation for the fall. The staff, and the head guy, chip Robertson, is insistent that the uniforms will never be worn anywhere but the practice field, where the three jerseys will be rotated weekly among the three different groups — offense, defense, and QBs. Texas, specifically Mack Brown and DeLoss Dodds, is very attached to the game jerseys that are currently used. These practice jerseys are just a way to make the players happy, because some of them wanted to wear flashier jerseys at some point during their time here.” … Elena Elms made herself a batch of her famous uni-themed cookies in honor of Opening Day. … I’m still calling it St. James Park — and so is the local council (from George Chilvers). … Is BYU going BFBS Amateur Pacifist? Could be, according to this item. And Michael Bischoff adds the following: “One of my roommates is a lineman on the BYU football team. He came back from practice saying that next season BYU will have a Pro Combat game. The only piece of the uni that he described was a black helmet, and said that we were wearing colored jerseys. But none of our big games are at home, so I’m assuming that means that our Pro Combat game will be on the road, probably against Boise State. Unless Nike does something with Oregon State, which would be a home game for us.” … New “smart fabric” for British military uniforms (from Tom Mulgrew). … Very nice uniform, including striped stirrups, being worn by Sinton High in Texas (from Todd Hotz). … Dog bites man (from Ryan Hess). … Legal kerfuffle in Wisconsin over a high school that’s been ordered to stop callings its teams the Indians (from Jarrod Leder). … Magnificent striped stirrups being worn by Orange Lutheran High School from California. Really like those pale-yellow stripes (from Thomas Stafford). … Mike Rich reports that the Braves played an exhibition game on Tuesday against their top minor league prospects, with the minor leaguers wearing their respective team uniforms. “In this this highlight video of Dan Uggla’s home run, you can see the Braves in their home whites and pitcher Sean Gilmartin in a Mississippi Braves (AA) road gray,” he says. “You can also see a few defensive players in the Lynchburg Hillcats (High-A) road green jersey, and I think I see the red sleeves of the Gwinnett Braves (AAA) road gray jersey as well. Plus the batboys are in the Gwinnett home whites.” … New home kit for the Carolina RailHawks (from Andy Dunbar). … “I’ve just received a newsletter from Sportsdecals,” writes Stefan Schubert. “They are now offering very large decals that cover most of the football helmet. Not sure if that will become a trend on the high school level, but this is definitely the first time I’ve seen decals like this.”
Kicking the Habit, Day 3: You know, this is turning out to be a lot easier than I’d expected. I simply decided not to drink the stuff anymore, and bingo — I’m not drinking the stuff anymore (even though I have two bottles in the fridge, mocking me). And today should be a breeze, cuz it’s Opening Day, which means I’ll be drinking beer. I wish everything could be this simple.