2014 has been an amazing year for me, filled with ups and downs. The most emotional year of my life, certainly, filled with heart-rending loss and incredible, mind-searing highs. One steady companion has been this blog– my need to write it, and my passion for baseball which remains undiminished. I thank you for reading it.
Life is filled with change:
We say good-bye to the great Bob Kelly Abreu, who at age 40 had two hits and scored the winning run in his final game with Los Leones de Caracas. A class ending for a nice man. And in a career that may not be quite over, Tomas Perez of first-place Caribes got the honor of playing all nine positions in the final game of 2014 (Anzoategui finished first, and will play in the round-robin commencing January 3). Perez, 41, played 12 middling seasons in North America for the Blue Jays, Phillies, and Astros; never all All-Star, but an all-rounder–the kind of player VZ baseball respects more than any other.
Asdrubal Cabrera, after a few months in the National League and a playoff appearance with the Nationals, has signed a one-year contract with the Rays of Tampa. Miguel “Microwave” Montero is going to be part of the Chicago Cubs’ never-ending pursuit of World Series glory; at age 31, the Microwave has yet to heat up the Fall Classic; now may be his moment, with big-time free-agent pitcher John Lester, as well as Venezuelan coach and retired MLB catcher Henry Blanco, arriving in the Windy City. Martin Prado, after a few ups and downs since 2012 (Braves, Diamondbacks, Yankees) hopes, like Cabrera, to find solid ground in swampy Florida, but on the East Coast with the Marlins of Miami. I’m sorry we won’t get to hear John Sterling call him “the Prado of the Yankees” any longer.
QUIZAS, QUIZAS, QUIZAS:
Wilmer Flores looked cool with the Bravos of Margarita in the Winter League. I’m hoping the Mets give him a full season at shortstop and see what he’s got at the Big League level. Ditto the Black Eagle of Maracaibo, Jose Pirela. I’d go more often to Yankee Stadium to see him play, orange shoes or not. On the Big Apple theme, ex-Met pitcher, Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez, may end up with the Blue Jays after an amazing 44-save comeback season on Milwaukee. And Eugenio Suarez, who I noticed playing a nice SS with Caracas this winter and who won the MVP of the All-Star game in Valencia with a smoking triple, was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, where he’ll man the same position that VZ legend David Concepcion once did for the Big Red Machine. At age 23, as Yogi Berra once said, Eugenio has his whole future ahead of him. The same for Ender Inciarte of Zulia, who was LVBP player of the week with a .471 batting average. “The Canon” made his mark in the outfield of Arizona last season; let’s see what 2015 holds.
Another one for the post-40 crowd! Another Cabrera, Alex, the VZ “Samurai” who set the Japanese League on fire for several seasons, will return to the USA this spring at age 43 with the Wichita Wingnuts of American Association Baseball. Some dudes just love to play ball. The Samurai has played in Venezuela, China, Japan, Mexico and the USA. I love it.
On that theme, word keeps popping up that two-time Cy Younger Johan Santana is making progress in his rehab. I hope so, for him–the mountain man from Tovar was a class guy during his time in New York and Minnesota, . He’s training with Magallanes, has faced live batting, and will throw a simulated game after the New Year. San Diego Padres outfielder Alexi Amarista has hit in 13 of the past 16 games for Magallanes, as well.
DRAMATICO FINAL :
The words of legendary soccer announcer Nolberto Longo, almost every game: “dramático final!” (exciting ending). Truer words were never spoken for the Venezuelan league this winter, when three teams wound up tied for the fifth and final playoff spot: the free-falling Cardenales de Lara and capital rivals Caracas and Tiburones. Lara lost 9 of 10 to plunge into fifth place but will host the interesting playoff series on Friday: Caracas play La Guaira at 2:00 pm, and the winner of that game plays Lara at 7:30. Winner goes into the round-robin, which begins the very next day. Crazy, man.
My best wishes to everyone in the USA, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and wherever you may be reading this entry or spending the New Year. Thank YOU immensely for sharing your time with me.