BEST OF THE BEST

Why Joey Chestnut belongs in the pantheon of all-time greats

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Death, taxes and Joey Chestnut winning the July 4th Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

The 36-year-old scoffed down a new world record of 75 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes to win his 13th Mustard Yellow Belt for the 13th time in 14 years. Chestnut's 75 Hot-Dogs broke his own record of 74 that he set in 2018. His 13 championships are now more than double the next highest total on the men's side. Takeru Kobayashi won 6.

Right now you can argue that nobody does their job better in the world than Chestnut does his. Chestnut won by 33 hot dogs and buns over second-place finisher Darron Breedon, who ate 42 hot dogs and buns. The 33 hot-dog-and-bun margin of victory is the largest since the Super Bowl of competitive eating split into men's and women's events in 2011. Chestnut belongs in the pantheon of all-time sports greats.

Chestnut is the closest thing to Babe Ruth we have seen in any athlete since the "Sultan of Swat" changed baseball forever. Ruth used to outhomer entire teams and now we see Chestnut outeat the total of multiple eaters combined. Chestnut is greatness personified and the most dominant athlete I have ever seen in my lifetime.

To any hater out there saying Chestnut is not a real athlete and competitive eating is not a sport, here is why you are wrong. Chestnut trains year-round to compete on the competitive eating circuit. Chestnut also has world records in Big Mac burgers and Hooters hot wings. He has a unique set of skills just as a NASCAR driver or a golfer does, and we don't question the validity of those sports? So why should we question Chestnut's?

Here are some Chestnut stats that will put his dominance in perspective. If you combine the titles of Michael Jordan and Tom Brady you are still one championship short of Chestnut's 13 Mustard Belts. Yogi Berra won 10 championships in baseball and Bill Russell won 11 championships in basketball and both don't match the total of Chestnuts.

The Nathan's Hot Dog eating contest averages 2 million viewers every year. That is a huge number for a sport that is known for only one main event once a year. Take that Peter King.

It has been said that the NFL owns a day of a week. Well, Joey Chestnut owns the 4th of July. What is more American than that?

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With the disappointing loss in extra innings late the night before, the Astros returned to RingCentral Coliseum on Saturday afternoon to try and even the series against the A's, who now owned a 3.5 game lead in the AL West over Houston. Here is a quick rundown of the middle game of the series:

Final Score: A's 3, Astros 1.

Record: 6-8, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Frankie Montas (2-1, 1.57 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Framber Valdez (0-2, 2.04 ERA).

Valdez does his job

Framber Valdez ran into stress early on Saturday, facing trouble in the bottom of the first inning. It started with a leadoff solo home run, putting Oakland up 1-0 before they would record an out. He later allowed back-to-back one-out singles to rack up his pitch count in the frame but would limit the damage to the single run.

He was able to re-focus and settle in during the following innings, getting quick, scoreless innings in the next four. In the bottom of the sixth, a leadoff groundball that likely should have been the first out was instead a single that would come back to bite Houston. That runner stole second and advanced to third on a bad throw, then scored on an RBI-groundout, doubling Oakland's lead to 2-0. Valdez would go one more inning, giving Houston precisely what they needed by helping give their exhausted bullpen a break. His final line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 1 HR.

Houston's offense unable to get anything going

Unfortunately for Houston, Frankie Montas was even more efficient on the other side. Houston was only able to notch two hits against him over seven innings while Montas only had to throw 86 pitches over that span. Oakland would go to their bullpen in the top of the eighth, with the Astros getting just a single in the inning.

Nivaldo Rodriguez would take over for Valdez in the bottom of the eighth and allowed a solo home run to make it 3-0 before completing the inning. Houston would get a leadoff double by Kyle Tucker to start the top of the ninth, and he would come around to score on an RBI-single by Alex Bregman. That's as close as Houston would get, though, as Oakland would finish off the win to secure the series and extend Houston's losing streak to four games.

Up Next: The final game of this series and Houston's nine-game road trip will be on Sunday at 3:10 PM Central. Jesus Luzardo (0-0, 2.31 ERA) will make a start for the A's while Cristian Javier (1-0, 1.42 ERA) will look to continue his success in 2020 for the Astros.

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