As baseball pundits yesterday wondered whether Ichiro Suzuki's surprise trade to the Yankees could propel New York to post-season glory, hot dog vendor Joe Bernstein was wrestling with an equally important question: What will he call his smoky German sausage, which has long been sold as an Ichiro Dog?
"I can't think of anything quite yet," he admitted before last night's game. "It's got to be funny. I'll think of something in my dream."
Over 12 seasons in Seattle, Ichiro has lent his name to a variety of edibles, including Safeco Field's Ichiroll (a spicy tuna roll) and Bernstein's $5 dog. "I'm just keeping him there today, thinking I can make a couple bucks off him," Bernstein told stadium-bound fans who paused to ask why the newest Bronx Bomber was listed on a menu board alongside Buhner, Niehaus and Griffey.
With the trade announced hours before game time, Bernstein didn't have time to come up with a replacement name, but said he planned to poll his friends on Facebook. When he asked passers-by for suggestions, most everyone agreed that the current roster doesn't include any players deserving of an honorary dog.
"Back in the old days, it was easy," said Bernstein, who's best known as the vendor who hoists hot dogs and barks "Would you look at the size of this one!"
"Used to be, there were 20 names you had to have," he continued. "There is no 'have to have' right now, it's a shame. I might have to get desperate again and name it after (television analyst Mike) Blowers."
Although Bernstein didn't collect any suggestions, he noted fans were in an especially good mood as they prepared to see Ichiro in a New York uniform.
"It's the most exciting night in 10 years," he said. "Bad or good, it's exciting. At least something's happening in there, am I right?"