Hi Readers, Before I get any further into the movement of VZ players around the Major Leagues and the winter league, I must thank everyone who helped on my recent two-week trip to Venezuela. It was my third trip to the country since 2009, and perhaps the most fun: seven baseball games in four cities in 17 days. A few drops of rum and handfuls of popcorn, too. Gracias a todos:
In Caracas: Ben Rodriguez of Osprey Tours (couldn’ t have done it without you, man); Chino the able barman at the Hotel Avila; the lovely Maria Felicia Balducci for watching her first game with me; Gustavo Viloria of Gravity Tours and his Magallanes-loving sister Angella.
In Maracay: charming Doctora Peggy Ojeda, who got us first-class seats to see the Tigres (her first game, too); and the staff of the Hotel Italo. Paul Stanley of Angel-Eco Tours, thanks for the lift, mate!
In Valencia; Anibal, the taxista nonpareil; Maria Jose Busquets at the Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame; the staff of the Hotel Dinastia.
In Maracaibo: the lovely Ortega family: Monica, mama, Humo, and Pancho the dog; the staff of the Hotel El Paseo.
Right now, Venezuela is a country on edge, and baseball is the last thing on lots of people’s minds: it’s hard to buy things; inflation is through the roof; personal security is a constant preoccupation: one’s basic safety and survival are a constant source of doubt. In this sense, a past-time like baseball becomes quite secondary.
Despite the country’s precarious state, I found many warm, welcoming folks willing to help me and willing to share their passion for beisbol; the taxi driver in Caracas who dreamed of playing as a boy; the customs man who shared my love of the Tiburones of La Guaira (easy pass there for the gringo); the vendors outside the stadiums who sold me souvenirs from any team I wanted.
Finally, no writer is an island (I would be Riker’s, not Margarita, if I were). Thanks to all who read and sometimes comment on my musings: Rich in Pennsylvania; Donna, Kevin, Charlie, Patty and Judy in New York; Phil and Kelly in California; Abril in Costa Rica and Juan in Brooklyn/Dubai: it’s nice to have someone notice (and occasionally, correct) me. For my friends in Venezuela, it’s my goal to get a Spanish-language translation up this year.
As we head into the holidays and 2015, I wish you all the best. Baseball is indeed a pastime, a way to pass the time among friends and loved ones; it is but a part of the patchwork of life, in which we all struggle to love, survive, and overcome in this oft-difficult world. Bless you all.