Writing > Even more empty seats

March 29, 2012: Even more empty seats

Diablos Rojos del México 11 Leones de Yucatán 7
7:00pm Wednesday March 28, 2012
Time: 3:38
Attendance: 1,120

For the first game of the Leones series, 1,386 turned up. Last night, 266 less people went. I'm not really sure how accurate that number is, either. My guess while I was at the park was somewhere in the 700-800 range.

Right next door to the ballpark is a concert venue. Last night, the Arctic Monkeys were playing there. It's always a little sad when there's a concert at the same time as a baseball game; you kinda feel like the lonely weirdo going to watch baseball while all the young, skinny kids are happy and excited to see a band. A band who come from a city that's 40 miles from my hometown, some 5,500 miles away from Mexico City.

So, anyway. The Diablos won 11-7 in another early innings slugfest. Leones took a 3-0 lead in the first, Diablos got one back in the bottom of the inning and then went to town on the Leones starter Linder Castro in the second, scoring five more. In the third, Leones got two back, and Diablos added three more. 9-5 Diablos. Things quietened down then. Leones scored two more in the fifth, but the Diablos were hitless from the fourth through seventh inning. Any hope of a comeback the Leones had was squished when Leo Heras doubles, Mario Valenzuela walked, and Oscar Robles doubled. A 1-2-3 top of the ninth, and the Diablos Rojos won their second straight game.

Diablos are now 4-6, in sixth position in the Zona Norte. Top of the table are the 8-2 Sultanes de Monterrey. Bottom of the table, the Pericos de Puebla are 0-10. In the Zona Sur, the Rojos del Aguila de Veracruz are up top at 9-1. And the Leones are at the bottom, 2-8.

A guy sat near me last night seemed to hate Diablos second baseman Carlos Valencia. He struck out in his first two at-bats. The guy shouted "puto!" both times. He even mocked him in the fifth when Valencia took a walk. This is Valencia's seventh season with the Diablos. He's 31, and has been playing in the Mexican League since he was 20 years old. From looking at the current Diablos team, it's clear that players make the "big" league teams quite young down here. And, if you're reading these words, maybe you might be interested to hear a bit about those players, a bit of context. I'm not gonna go through the whole squad, but here's some history of last night's starting Diablos line-up (links go to their Baseball-Reference pages):

Leo Heras CF
22 years old, born in Tecate, playing in his sixth season in the Mexican League, his second for the Diablos. Speedy leadoff guy. My favourite player. Hit .342/.399/.536 last season.

Ivan Terrazas LF
28 years old, born here in Mexico City (and thus very popular with the fans), played in the Braves organization from 2004 to 2007, never getting higher than Double-A Mississippi Braves in 2006. H'es been with the Diablos since 2008, and last night was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle when he was hit-by-pitch in his last plate appearance.

Óscar Robles 3B
35 years old, from Tijuana. The only player on the team last night to play in the major leagues. At age 29 in 2005, he played 110 games for the Dodgers, hitting .272/.332/.368. He only played 29 games the next season, and in 2007 was released and signed with the Padres, where he played just 24 games. He spent 2008 with the Triple-A Portland Beavers and Lehigh Valley IronPigs, before coming down to Mexico City in 2009.

Japhet Amador 1B
25 years old, from Mulege. Big fat first baseman who's not particularly good at playing first base. Can hit some, though. This is his third season with the Diablos, his seventh in the Liga Mexicana. He does a cute thing where he drags the tip of his bat across the chalk line at the edge of the circle of dirt around the batter's box before every plate appearance. I like him.

Carlos Valencia 2B
He's from Ciudad Obregon, Sonora. We've discussed him above.

Emmanuel Avila DH
23 years old, from Los Mochis, Sinaloa. Third season with the Diablos after spending four seasons with the Orioles (briefly) and White Sox rookie affiliates.

Victor Bojorquez RF
38 years old, from Los Mochis, Sinaloa. Joined the Diablos in 2000, only played 12 games last season. Popular with the fans.

Raul Padron C
27 years old, from Los Teques, Venezuela. Spent six seasons in the Athletics system, played some independent ball in 2010-11 before hooking up with Cleveland's Double-A affiliate in Akron for 55 games. Now he's down here.

Jesus Lopez SS
24 years old, from Guasave, SInaloa. Spend five years in the Padres farm system, his last stop being Double-A San Antonio Missions in 2010. Came to the Diablos mid-season last year after starting the year with Guerreros de Oaxaca.

Rolando Valdez RHP
26 years old, from Hidalgo. Spent four years in the Padres organization. He only ever played 17 games at Double-A and two at Triple-A. This is his third season back in Mexico, his first with the Diablos.

The last section of words will not get me a job at Baseball Prospectus. Sometimes, all this writing about Mexican League baseball is a good reminder how difficult writing about baseball can be. So I'll stick to what I know: talking about drunk people in the stands. Last night, we had the winner. There were three dudes in the section up and over from me. All in medical student white trousers and coats with shirts and ties and incongruous, red, Diablos caps. The camera man had picked them out a couple of times between innings, dancing around, being silly. All good. Then there seemed to be a murmur as more and more people started watching them try to leave. One of them was okay. Stood on the concrete steps, watching another of his pals try to convince the third that it was time to leave. The third guy was shit-faced. So drunk. The muscles in his face looked like they'd gone to sleep, his eyes were barely open, and his legs didn't seem to want to bother holding up the rest of his body. His mate was trying to drag him to the aisle. He was having none of it. More and more people were watching this theatre instead of the game. After several minutes, the second guy gave up and left with the first guy. (Seriously! You can't leave your drunk friends behind, dude. Not cool.) Anyway, once the third guy was freed of his downer buddies, he stood on the concrete steps, turned from the field, and urinated. I didn't see the urine or penis itself, but by the looks on the faces in the seating above him, he was urinating. He turned around when he'd done, took a long time to find a way to make his fingers grab the zipper to do it up, and by this time, two security people were recreating the dance he had with his friend. He didn't want to leave. They wanted him to leave. They got their wish. And we got back to watching baseball.