Writing > Swept

August 27, 2011: Swept

Diablos Rojos del México 6 Tigres de Quintana Roo 9
7:00pm Thursday August 25, 2011, resumed 1:00pm Friday August 26, 2011
Time: 3:44
Attendance: 23,553

Diablos Rojos del México 9 Tigres de Quintana Roo 13
7:00pm Friday August 26, 2011
Time: 3:28
Attendance: 22,210

Cancún's Tigres swept the Diablos to win the championship. And perhaps, the most telling thing to note about the four games is that the latest in a game that the Diablos had a lead was at the end of the second inning of the third game. At that point in the game, they lead 2-1. By the middle of the third inning, they were losing again. It was a frustrating series to be a Diablos fan. Game one in Cancún featured some comedic defending in the first inning, giving the Tigres a 5-0 lead. They went on to win 8-2. Great pitching from both teams in game two, but Cancún managed to sneak in the game's only run.

Game three was here in the capital. It was due on Tuesday, but rain in Cancún postponed game one, so was moved back to Wednesday. But it pished it down here on Wednesday, (a post about that non-game here) so it was moved again to Thursday.

Arrived at the ballpark around 5pm to find a spare piece of concrete to sit on amongst the bags, coats, rolled-up flags and anything else people used to reserve seats for their friends. Sat behind a woman who was putting tape across her finger nails so that she could paint them in different-coloured stripes. A few people asked the beer vendors and security dudes where their seats were. Faces like smacked arses when they were told it was general admission. You people haven't been here before, have you? Good of you to only turn up for the championship-deciding series. Beyond the outfield fence, beyond the skeleton of a big stage - a stage waiting to be used by Justin Bieber and Pearl Jam - were a couple of souped-up cars doing handbrake turns in a car park.

I'm often amused how normal the phrase chinga tu madre (fuck your mother) is here. Can you imagine being in, say, Comerica Park, and when the visiting team finishes their batting practice, a whole loud section of the crowd shouts, "Twins! Twins! Fuck your mothers!"? That happens here. I like it. There's a TV reporter here called Antonio de Valdés. When he's at Diablos games, lots of people shout and wave, get photos and such. He was on the field chatting with players. He got a chinga tu madre, too. He turned, laughing, and gave the fans a thumbs up.

There's a popular chant here that gets used whenever the crowd feels like chanting. It's origins, apparently, are from a TV commercial that aired during the 1986 World Cup. It goes like this:

Chiquiti boom a la bim bom ba.
Chiquiti boom a la bim bom ba.
A la bio, a la bao, a la bim bom ba.
Mexico Mexico, rah rah rah.

Fans will insert the name of their preferred team where "Mexico Mexico" is in the lyrics. Here's a YouTube clip of the TV commercial. Fans at the stadium, though, won't do the song with as much melody; it's just kinda shouted. About 10% of the stadium was Tigres fans. Most of them grouped together in three chunks of the ballpark. Whenever they started their "Chiquiti boom" they were booed down, and Diablos fans did it back, louder. And interesting(ish) thing to note: Diablos fans in different sections do a different ending. In the more expensive seats behind the infield, where there is a roof, and there are plastic seats, not just banks of concrete, they sing "Diablos Diablos, rah rah rah." In the cheaper concrete sections of the stadium, they stick to the "Mexico Mexico, rah rah rah" version. (It's something that takes a while to get used to here: that people in this city use the word Mexico to refer to the city. They rarely say Ciudad de Mexico. And if they do say something else, it's usually D.F.: Distito Federal.)

Sitting there, with an aching ass from the concrete even before the game had started, it kinda hit me that this is my home ballpark now. I've been to 26 games here this season. It's a crappy stadium, it's ugly, but you get used to it, and once you're used to it, it feels like home.

Being the first home game of the Serie del Rey, the teams lined up before play began. The announcer announced each of the Tigres players as they lined up between second and third. Each name greeted with "puto!" from the Diablos fans. When all the players from both teams were lined up, we had a minute's silence for a trainer who died earlier in the week, then an un-amplified brass band played the national anthem in shallow center field. Former Braves, Rockies, Devil Rays, Astros, Nationals, and Padres third baseman Vinny Castilla threw out the first pitch. And it started spitting with rain at 7:00pm exactly. But not for long, thankfully.

Three up, three down for Quintana Roo in the first. And, pay attention, Dallas Braden: Tigres catcher, Carlos Gastelum, batting second, trotted back to the dugout and made a deliberate side-step to step on the front of the mound.

Diablos leadoff hitter Jesus Lopez at-bat, and right in front of me, was Rocco, the mascot, standing on the rails at the front of the section, encouraging people to make some noise. Thanks, Rocco, but, y'know, there's a baseball game going on behind you, and as my family would always say, you make a better door than a window. He climbed through the crowd, having his photo taken. He hugged a grey-haired lady. Those around here started chanting, "Beso! beso!" ("Kiss! kiss!"). Once they'd kissed, the people cheered, and started chanting "Sexo! sexo!" which I don't need to translate for you.

Diablos took a 1-0 lead in the first, Luis Cruz scoring off an Alexis Gomez single to centre field. That was the first time the Diablos had had the lead in the series. But it didn't last long, Quintana Roo scoring in the top of the second. Diablos re-took the lead in the bottom of the second. That, sadly, was the last time the Diablos had the lead in the series; Quintana Roo scored two in the third. Diablos tied it at 3-3 in the fourth, but again, Tigres got another in the fifth. Tigres 4-3. As the players came out for the sixth inning, it started spitting again. But the spitting swiftly turned to a downpour.

The players left the field, I got my red plastic poncho thingy out of my bag, and stood there, hoping the shower would be brief. With a plastic hood blocking my peripheral vision, and blocking out some of the noise, I slipped away into my brain, imagining what it would be like to crawl underneath the tarp from first base to third, across the mound. And as the air pockets under the tarp billowed, I wondered what it would be like to have sex there. Public, but hidden. Big big Mexican butterflies struggled to fly in the rain. Waited for 90 minutes, waiting for the game to be called off, as per league rules. All the umpires came out, stood at home plate, and waved to the official scorer and announcer that the game was suspended. Now, you would think that Tigres having a lead after five complete innings, they would automatically win, but apparently, the Liga Mexicana Seligs its games in the playoffs. The game would resume at 1pm on Friday.

Now, to be completely frank, after spending two nights at the ballpark, arriving at 5pm both days, and only seeing five innings of baseball, the thought of getting up and being back at the park for 1pm for potentially more rain delays was slightly disheartening. I want to see the baseball, but fuck the bloody rain. But back I went. Sat in more or less the same place in front of a crowd under half the size of the previous evening. And it was sunny. All through the game. Sunny to the point that I have a little stripe of red skin on my thigh where there's a hole in my jeans.

There was no national anthem for the resumed game. Diablos began the second part of the game the way they began the first, getting the first three Tigres batters out. And on the first pitch of the bottom of the sixth, Luis Terrero homered to right. Tie game. Good. Let's get back into this. But, frustratingly, top of the seventh, and the Tigres put up three runs. Bottom seventh, Diablos have two outs. Leo Heras singles. Luis Cruz singles. Alexis Gomez walks. Bases loaded. Luis Terrero walks, Heras scores. Mario Valenzuela walks, Cruz scores. Mario Valdez strikes out. Now. Let's back up a little. Imagine your team is 7-4 down in the seventh inning of game three of the World Series. The bases are loaded. Now imagine the team mascot is in your section of the ballpark. Would you, like a handful of people did, I'm sad to say, forget about the game and go and stand with your back to the field, having your photo taken with a man in a furry suit? I get it, I really do: people want to have fun, but for fuck's sake: this is not the fucking time.

The fightback, though, fell short, and two more Tigres runs in the top of the eighth: final score Quintana Roo 9 Mexico 6. The Cancún team take a 3-0 lead in the series. It was 2:53pm. Game four due to begin just four hours later. I'd wondered what I would do with my time. The ballpark is in a part of town that seems to be mainly multi-laned roads. I'd figured I could find a cafe to get some food and a coffee. But, being a dolt, I'd forgotten my regular glasses at home; going to the park in my prescription sunglasses. No good for the evening game, cos I am not Corey Hart. Damn it. An hour there, an hour back, just to pick up my glasses. I got back to my apartment, up to my bedroom, to the desk where I changed my specs and: they're not there. I looked in the bathroom. Not there. Looked in the kitchen. Not there. I looked in my bag. They were there all the time. Two hours back and forth for nothing. Because I'd made a pointless journey, I took a shower to relax a little.

Back at the park, in the under-the-roof section this time. I watched the groundskeepers painting the batter's box. This could be the last time I see this happen this season. A melancholy mood set in that, really, stayed with me all night. Sometimes, you just know your team is gonna lose despite what the optimistic part of your brain tells you. This might be the last game I see this season: I watched the Diablos players stretching and sprinting in the outfield. This might be the last game I see this season: I watched the Diablos playing pepper in front of the dugout. This might be the last game I see this season: I joined in with the chuiqiti boom-ing. I clapped as the rest of the Diablos fans, the nación escarlata, clapped, banged drums, parper on plastic parp-y things, and clapped their horrendous thundersticks together. (Apart from not sounding anything like thunder, the corporate-branded sticks given out to Diablos fans were from a telephone company and a beer company. Both of those companies use blue as one of their colours. And, of course, they couldn't give that up, despite the team playing in red.)

There was no national anthem again for the evening's game. Quintana Roo 2-0 up in the first. Middle of the second, it's 4-0. The Tigres fans were noisy. Diablos got three back in the bottom of the second, Tigres tacked on another, and Diablos tied it at 5-5 in the bottom of the third. The guy sat in front of me was using huge binoculars to check out girls in other sections, and - creepily - girls walking up the stairs in our section. He passed the binoculars to his father who did the same.

Things just weren't going the Diablos' way. The Tigres keep out of an inning-ending double play when the ball hit the ankle of the runner heading towards third. And in the seventh, with two outs, a great dive to get to a ground ball just comes of the glove of Jose Luis Sandoval, allowing a run to score and leave the bases loaded for Carlos Gastelum. He hits a fly ball. And it kept on going. And sneaked over the fence. Grand fucking slam. A 5-5 tie, and three innings of zeros gone just like that. Tigres lead 10-5. Diablos got one back in the bottom of the eighth. Tigres got three more in the top of the ninth. 13-6.

Diablos finally seemed to put up a fight in the bottom of the ninth. Lopez reached on an error. Heras doubled, Lopez scores, 13-7. The pessimist in me was being kept at bay. C'mon, you can do this! Cruz lines out to first. One out. Terrero singles, Heras scores, 13-8. Valenzuela strikes out. Down to their last out. Gomez singles, Terrero scores, 13-9. Terrazas singles, Gomez to second. Tying run on deck. Come the fuck on! Emmanuel Avila fouls one off. And another. Third pitch ball. Fouls off another. Fouls off another. Lines the ball into center field. Into the glove of Albino Contretas. That was the last thing I saw at Foro Sol in 2011.

As soon as the ball hit the glove, I looked down. I grabbed my bag, put it on my back. I con permiso-ed my way past the damn Tigres fans sat next to me, looked down at the concrete steps, turned my iPod on, looked at a pretty girl in a Diablos hat, turned and walked down the stairs. The PA announcements congratulating the Tigres muffled in the distance, leaked passed my headphones. Out of the park. I have no idea what the celebrations looked like, no idea at all. All I see in my mind of the end of the game is the ball landing in the glove. I've scrolled past Liga Mexicana thumbnails in my Facebook news feed. I don't wanna see it. But perhaps the most melancholy thing here is, there's nobody to share it with. I have no Diablos-supporting friends, and I live in a city that, on the whole, doesn't really care. If you turned up at the ballpark in the third inning, you'd still have been able to buy a ticket. There were a few Diablos fans on the subway. When I changed lines, I stood on a southbound platform directly across from a middle-aged moustachioed man in a satin Braves jacket and a Diablos hat. I hoped that we'd make eye contact, share a small moment, the team we root for had been swept by their biggest rivals. But, we didn't make eye contact. He looked off down the tunnel for his train, and mine pulled into the station. I got on the train, and went to a friend's house to drink cognac.