An End Of An Era In Coney Island?S

Longtime readers know of our fascination with competitive eating and, specifically, Takeru Kobayashi, who is the closest thing to a Babe Ruth that we've had in any competition in 80 years. (You know, since Babe Ruth.) Not only did he destroy all hot dog eating records, he legitimized — well, "legitimized" — the whole enterprise, setting a training standard that everyone now follows. And he's never been beaten in the hot dog competition.

Well, last week American Joey Chestnut broke Kobayashi's all-time record, and with the Nathan's competition coming up July 4, amazingly, Kobayashi isn't the favorite to win this time. And that's if he even shows up.

"Kobayashi's mother died in March and he's currently taking a sabbatical. He's not even in training," the hot dog eating champion's manager tells Shukan Gendai. "I haven't heard a word from him about whether he's going to take part in the July contest and there's no way that I know to get in touch with him."

It would be a true end of an era: We hope Kobayashi has it in him to haul out to Coney Island one last time.

And yes: This is how we're dealing with the dullness of the NBA Finals.

Betting Odds On Hot Dog Eating Contest [Point Spreads]
The Champions Of Consumption [The Black Table]