Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has extended an old tradition by making a friendly bet with a police official in another city.
In this case, he bet Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson that the Dodgers would beat the Cubs in the National League Championship Series.
The winner of that series, which kicked off Saturday night in Chicago, will go on to play in the World Series.
The winner of the bet will get… a sandwich.
Beck took to Twitter to announce that if the Dodgers lose, he will send Johnson (whose name he apparently miswrote at first as “Jones”) a hot pastrami sandwich from Langer’s, the iconic L.A. deli that sits across from MacArthur Park.
If the Cubs lose, Beck wrote, Johnson will send him an Italian beef sandwich from Al’s Italian Beef in Chicago.
Norm Langer, the owner of Langer’s Delicatessen, welcomed the attention.
“It is a huge honor for Charlie Beck to want to put me in that circle of wagers that will give him bragging rights. It makes me feel very proud to be even thought of in that vein,” Langer told KPCC in a phone interview Saturday.
Beck has a penchant for making these friendly wagers. He’s made similar bets for years against former New York Police Commissioner William Bratton, who also served as chief of police in that city and here in L.A.
Langer said that history between Bratton and Beck probably inspired the current wager.
“Between Charlie and Bill there’s been bragging rights all along, and Charlie decided to create bragging rights between him and the commissioner of Chicago,” Langer said.
So why Langer’s?
“Charlie Beck has been eating here for many, many years, and I wouldn’t even venture to say how long. He’s a friend of mine,” Langer said. “This is one of his favorite places to eat, and as I am sure you have read in publications before, we have some of the best pastrami in the world, if not the best pastrami in the world.”
Even before Beck, Bratton was known to love the spot. As Langer is quick to point out, Bratton was asked shortly before moving back to New York what he would miss about L.A., and he said “Langer’s delicatessen.”
Sure enough, here’s what Bratton told KPCC’s Patt Morrison in his last interview on the show as chief of police (cue New Yorkers' outrage):
“What I will miss is the best corned beef sandwich in America. It’s not in New York, it’s here in L.A. — Langer’s. They’re going to have to basically ship it back to me in New York, home of the Carnegie Deli.”
“I can’t ask for better accolades than that,” Langer told KPCC.
Beck’s favorite is a No. 10 — pastrami and swiss cheese, which he normally eats on rye toast, Langer said.
If Beck wins, though, Langer won’t be sending a whole sandwich.
“What I will send him is a box with pastrami and swiss cheese and coleslaw and rye bread and Russian dressing and pickles in it, with the instructions, and let him make his own. It’s something he will savor, and something he will remember,” he said.
Whoever wins, Langer seemed to have a pretty good handle on what the whole wager was really about.
“You know what? It’s fun. It’s all in good fun. It’s all in good taste,” he said. “And you know, how often do we get that opportunity in life? We don’t get it often. And to be able to do it on a national basis is fantastic.”
Before Langer got off the phone, he said there may be yet another twist in this story.
On Saturday morning he got an email from Bratton’s wife saying “in big, big, bold letters, ‘I want in.’” Langer wasn’t sure exactly how Bratton intended to get in on this contest for municipal bragging rights, but he was sure they would figure it out.