In my adopted home town we just had an Eagle Festival, celebrating the grand return of our national bird to the banks of the Hudson River. Pushed to the brink of extinction 50 years ago, the majestic Bald Eagle has made a major comeback, and in this season, many descend from the cold Canadian climes to fish in New York’s less frigid–and unfrozen–waters.
While our eagles fly south, the Aguilas of Zulia begin their migration north. 14 players from the Maracaibo-based squad begin spring training on the 40-man roster of a MLB team. The National League players are headed by Colorado superstar Carlos Gonzalez, who hopes to have an injury-free season at last, and Freddy Galvis, who has a good chance of taking Jimmy Rollins’ vacated spot at short for the Phillies. (Freddy won a Venezuelan Gold Glove this season.) Speaking of good fielders, Ender “the Cannon” Inciarte will look to play even more for Arizona; he appeared in 118 games in 2014. Sandy Leon complements the trio of catchers in D.C.–with Jose Lobaton, he’ll back up Wilson Ramos.
In the American League, our hero, the Black Eagle Jose Pirela looks to cement a utility infielder role in the Bronx while avoiding the subway-like crush around Alex Rodriguez’ locker; Marwin Gonzalez will look to take as many turns for in the Houston infield beside countryman and batting champion Jose Altuve.
Pitchers and catchers are due to report for training February 19, and the position players five days later. As I watch yet more snow falling outside my window, I must say I can’t wait.
Speaking of Maracaibo, a special shout-out to my friends at Patacon Pisao of East Elmhurst, NY (in the great borough of Queens) for their forthcoming review in the New York Times. !Dale Maracucho!