The taxi drives past a pet store on Avenida Cedeño, bright yellow canaries and parakeets inside, brown sparrows alighting outside. I consider the old poem; I know why the caged bird sings. Am I outside looking in, or the other way around?
Game 3 of the VZ trip is on Thanksgiving Day, certainly not celebrated here. For me, to attend a baseball game while fully aware there’s snow on the ground back home is compensation enough.
Dustin Richardson starts tonight (abridor, or opener, in Spanish) for Magallanes, whose mascot is a parrot named Capi. (for capitan, I think). This team, named for Fernando Magellan (Magellan’s sailors is the official name) also use a ship’s horn to signal good fortune, a bit of a respite from all the tiger and lion roars in Caracas and Maracay.
Roughned Odor, late of Texas Rangers, is tearing the cover off the ball for the Valencia 9. The fabulous Arcia brothers, Orlando and Oswaldo, bat 3-4 for the first-place Caribes, who also have a player named Exicardo Cayones.
The dance troupe, sponsored by a local bank, are Las Electricas. Of course they are.
In the top of the third, a skinny orange cat slinks, uheeded, across the top of the dugout. A vendor loudly advertises “roof-flies” and while I initially think I might be able to procure some roofies inside the stadium, he’s actually stumping for Ruffles potato chips. Oh well. 5 very lite Dixie cups of beer cost 175 bolivares, or about $1.75 if one were to take advantage of the black market. A .25 tip goes to the kid, who is hustling the whole game. And the mystery of the cardboard is revealed: he writes my name down at the beginning of the game and chalks off each purchase. At the end, I pay. Three cheers for honesty.
Oswaldo Arcia is a big boy, a real up-and-comer for the Twins. Tonight, he’s a DH, and I’ve never seen anyone so emphatically appreciate a base-on-balls. Two runs spill in that inning on bases-loaded walks.
The national anthem, Gloria Bravo Pueblo, was so beautiful tonight it almost brought tears to my eyes. Then, upon return to my hotel, I heard it three times at midnight (there’s a biblical or Shakespearean reference there somewhere). It’s the official policy of the government to play the anthem at midnight–you can tell the political affilation of the broadcasters by which images they choose to display during the song.
Some local lingo: “ponche” is a strikeout. “un rolling” is a groundball. an “arepa” (the local cornmeal delight) is a shutout; as in: tomorrow you’ll be eating arepas! “cortufa” is popcorn, which has become a staple meal for me.
It’s a tight game tonight, and Magallanes come back for the 4-3 victory and with a loss by Aragua, vault into third place, good positioning for the five-team round robin in January which determines the final champion.
Magallanes have won the championship in consecutive years, and their fans, who are all over the country, crow about it just like Yankees or Dallas Cowboy fans in the USA would. I could never be a Magallanes fan.