Writing > It's back

March 2, 2012: It's back

Diablos Rojos del México 13 Selección de la Liga Centropolitana 4
2:29pm Wednesday February 29, 2012

On Wednesday, I went to a baseball game. Diablos Rojos del México playing against a Selección de la Liga Centropolitana. There was a moment. Maybe it was the second or third inning, I don't remember. A moment when the baseballness kicked in in my head. Jesús López lined one into center field. Víctor Bojórquez coming 'round from second. The throw's coming in, and a few yards from home, that's when the thrill of baseball came back fully: Get down! Slide! He get down. He slid. Avoided the tag and the Diablos scored their second run of the afternoon.

Most of the time, I pretty much fully believe that Facebook is a depressing necessity in my life. Around lunchtime on Wednesday, though, I checked in and was happy I did. The latest wee post by whoever does the Diablos Rojos del México stuff read as follows:

Tus @DiablosRojosMX ya están calentando para el 1er partido de preparación que sostendrán hoy a las 2 pm vs Selección de la Liga Centropolitana en el campo Fray Nano en el DF #VamosDIABLOS!!!

Yes, indeed. Diablos Rojos are warming up for the first pre-season game today at 2pm against a selection of players from the Centropolitana League at Fray Nano Field.

I look at the time. 12.25pm. Baseball? Today? In an hour-and-a-half? Si! Bueno! Vamos! Sometimes being freelance and having a slightly flexible schedule really does have its benefits. A couple of days ago, I was excited because I'd got my Opening Day ticket. I had no idea they'd be playing any spring training games in the city. A quick check online to find out exactly where this Campo Fray Nano was, and I was on my way. Turns out it's not too far from the Diablos' regular ballpark. But that Facebook announcement was a wee bit detail-less. Doesn't actually say spectating is a possibility. But Google Street View shows that even if it was a private affair, there are railings between which glimpses of real life actual baseball could be caught.

Needn't have worried though. Seems like I was the last to know. I guess the news of the event must've been on the Web site for a while, because when I arrived and there was already around a thousand people there in the small stand that wrapped around the infield. As the afternoon went on, the stand filled up and I guess there was 2,500-3,000 people there. And there on the field: baseball players. Throwing balls around. About to play baseball. And as we got closer to first pitch time, (which in true Mexican style was half an hour late), the PA system sparked up and started playing "Rock and Roll, Part 2" by convicted sex offender Gary Glitter. (Dear sports teams of North America: stop playing this song.)

The line-ups were announced. I have no idea who the Selección de la Liga Centropolitana are. I didn't even know there was a Centropolitana League. They announced the Diablos line-up. I've not paid a huge amount of attention to their moves in the off-season. Seems like last season's best player and Liga Mexicana MVP Luis Terrero has gone. A few other names missing, but the starting pitcher was last season's Opening Day pitcher, the veteran lefty Roberto Ramírez, and on the whole, the rest of the line-up was the same as last season's Mexican Series losers.

And then baseball began. This was the first spring training-type game I've been to. And after several months of no baseball, it was just a simple matter of absorbing as much as possible; like chugging down the first post-transatlantic flight cigarette. It's not really about the joy of things, it's just about re-filling the silo in your brain with routine grounders, pick-off moves, checked swings, and slides into second.

Vendors walked up and down the stairways with snacks and drinks. The beer guy with a big plastic bucket of full of bottles of Sol, Dos Equis, and Indio. A few afternoon beers in front of an unexpected baseball game. There are some moments in your life where you kind of have that moment looking down and in on yourself doing it, and this was one of them. Skipping school to drink Indio and watch baseball on a warm February afternoon in Mexico.

It was fun to see Japhet Amador, the Diablos' very big first baseman beat out the throw when he hit a weak one that rolled slowly towards third. It was fun to see faces I recognised from last season in the stand, people chatting to each other like it was the first time they'd seen each other since that last horrible defeat in the 4-0 sweep by the Tigres in the Mexican Series in August. It was fun to see my favourite player, center fielder Leo Heras (above) sneak a single with a wicked bounce over the leaping glove of the second baseman, and seeing an opportunity keep on pegging it 'round to take second. The runs racked up. A couple more. 7-0. Afternoon beers, a nice fuzz in my head, the smell of tobacco wafting around. (Wednesday was my 42nd day of non-smoking, but I still love the smell of cigarettes being smoked.)

Some guy asked me what inning it was. I had no idea. It was just baseball. Some pitches, some swings, some misses, some hits. And all for free, too. And should you be in Mexico City, it's worth noting that next Wednesday, March 7th, there's another free game at Fray Nano at 2pm. This time the Selección de la Liga Centropolitana will be taking on last season's champions, and José Canseco's new team, Tigres de Quintana Roo. That's gotta be worth skipping school for, right?