Seven Days in May appeared in cinemas exactly 51 years ago; the John Frankenheimer film detailed a right-wing plot to overthrow the U.S. government and was released just months after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. While Venezuelan schoolchildren are being encouraged to take their own toilet paper to school, and hotel guests to bring their own laundry detergent, we still manage to focus on baseball; seven days in January will decide the next national champion.
We arrive at the weekend with a plethora of VZ pelota news, south and north.
In Venezuela, some 80 games have eliminated all but two teams: the Caribes of Anzoategui, and perennial favorite Magallanes of Valencia. In the final series, Magallanes will feature two new players from the Tigres of Aragua: a phenomenon of the VZ winter league is that once a round is over, and your team is out, the remaining teams can sign you: Yangervis Solarte and Josmil Pinto, welcome to Valencia.
Both Solarte and Pinto were part-time MLBers last season with moderate success; perhaps the pressure-cooker of the third round will make them even better. Pinto led second-round batters with a .404 average in 16 games (and 18 RBI). Ex-Mets Ronny Cedeño , also hitting well in the second series (.383), and Endy Chavez continue with Magallanes, as does NY Yankees Cuban-born prospect Adonis Garcia. Other NYY prospect Ramon Flores and (Detroit) Tigers’ spectacular outfielder Ezequiel Carrera are also on board with “Magellan’s sailors.”
AAA hero Nuiman Romero features in the Anzoategui order, as does perpetual minor-league slugger (and current Royals signee) Balbino Fuenmayor (.367, 5 HR, 13 RBI in round two). Balbino was big in Quebec last season and large in Anzoategui this; here’s hoping he brings that mojo to Kansas City, too.
The Caribes have been hitting the cover off the ball and have led the first and second-round series from start to finish. The X factor up the Navegantes’ left sleeve may be two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana. El Gocho pitched but two innings, two weeks ago, in what Jimi Hendrix would’ve called a slight return, but after resting that trusty left arm, he may be good to go in the next seven days.
For the second straight season, the Caribes and Magallanes face off in the final round. It should be a good one indeed; the format of the series is 2-3-2 with first place Anzoategui hosting the first pair of games starting tonight.
In MLB news, Jesus Montero, once-promising prospect of the Yankees and currently the Mariners, is back in shape to vie for the Seattle catcher’s role. He’s 40 pounds lighter than last spring training, the beginning of a nightmare season which featured his demotion to the minor leagues and an ugly incident between Montero and a scout who taunted him with an ice cream sandwich.
Marco Scutaro’s been released by the San Francisco Giants after missing almost all of last year with back problems; they paid off the remainder of his contract, making him Venezuela’s answer to the Six Million Dollar Man. The wild-but-no-longer-innocent Henry Rodriguez shuffles to his sixth MLB team (find the Springsteen reference in that sentence), the Diamondbacks of Arizona. Big Henry, a Zulia native, pitched just 1.2 innings in the Big Show last season; he can bring the heat, but with limited consistency. A comic highlight of the 2013 season was Henry nearly being hit by his own wild pitch, on a rebound off the brick wall behind home plate.
Gettin’ Miggy with the Cargo
Others on the comeback trail include the Miracle Man of Guanare, Martin Perez, Rangers righty who began soft-tossing from 105 feet this week after losing 2014 to Tommy John surgery; Carlos Gonzalez, also MIA with a knee injury for most of the campaign, and for the Tigers of Detroit, although he played with the ones from Aragau too, the indomitable Miguel Cabrera, whose “boot” has been removed from his balky ankle. VZ Baseball wishes them all well in their 2015 returns.
RIP Ernie Banks. The greatest Chicago Cub ever; an All-Star, Hall-of-Famer, and a gentleman. Let’s play two!