On the highway between Caracas and Maracay stands an imcomplete and rusting train track, at some junctures the concrete stanchions unconnected to each other. No high-speed rail will connect the capital and Aragua state any time soon; the money is gone.
Maracay, however, is a route to Major League Baseball. Last night on VZbaseball’s second stadium visit, we saw the Tigres de Aragua rout the visiting Tiburones de La Guaira. Lefty Jason Lane, who will turn 38 three days before Christmas, pitched 6.1 excellent innings, and won his second game. Lane pitched in three games for the Padres this season after a seven year break.
Meanwhile, one of the league’s most promising youngsters, Tigres outfielder Teo Martinez, one of the league leaders in doubles, had a great game, playing opposite his brother, Shark centerfielder Jose Martinez. They are the sons of Carlos “Cafe” Martinez, who had a cup of cafe in the Major Leagues with a few different teams in the late 80’s.
Rookie Ramon Flores is one of the Tigres outstanding players, batting .357; perhaps the 22 year old kid from Barinas, Hugo Chavez’s hometown, can make the leap from AA to the bigs with the Yankees this season.
One of this blogs great heros of 2014, Minnesota Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar, played third base for Aragua last night. He made an error–I guess that makes him E cubed and not E squared anymore. Massive White Sox Avisail Garcia played the outfield and ripped a double that almost went through the left-field wall. They broke the game open with a 4 run fifth inning.
While the Caracas fans are obsessed with Lion imagery, so are the fans of Maracay with the Tiger. The female dancing troupe, Las Felinas, are decked out in white knee high boots and black tights, to begin with. They like to shake their hair as if they are in an 80’s cheesy metal band, like Poison. (Perhaps Cafe Martinez digs this.) The whole team of mascots—there is a family of Tigres—dance with the ladies between innings. A brass band—La Mariachi Costeña—plays loudly when something good happens.
Fans can be equally cruel to the opposition here. When former Japan home run king Alex Cabrera bats for La Guaira, the gallery shouts, “syringe.”
The family behind me, Yenner, Yerenmith, Yusmira and Yenner Jose Moreno, have a great time with their new gringo friend, exchanging high cincos at every opportunity. They tell me, welcome to Venezuela. Thank you, Famila Y.
The guy behind the Morenos cannot believe I did not want to take his picture.
Muchas gracias tambien to tour operator extraordinaire Paul Stanley, for the lift to Maracay, and to Doctora Peggy Ojeda, whose charming hospitality has made my stay quite pleasant. The roads are potted with holes, but the people have warmth in their hearts.
Tomorrow: on to Valencia. Probably.