Writing > Catching up on a few games

May 3, 2012: Catching up on a few games

Diablos Rojos del México 2 Pericos de Puebla 3
7:00pm Friday April 27, 2012
Time: 3:17
Attendance: 6,619

Diablos Rojos del México 4 Pericos de Puebla 0
4:00pm Saturday April 28, 2012
Time: 2:39
Attendance: 7,638

Diablos Rojos del México 10 Saraperos de Saltillo 3
4:00pm Tuesday May 1, 2012
Time: 3:31
Attendance: 5,475

Diablos Rojos del México 3 Saraperos de Saltillo 5
7:00pm Wednesday May 2, 2012
Time: 3:00
Attendance: 962 (not a typo)

I went down to Puebla at the weekend. It's a beautiful city, it's only a couple of hours away on the bus, and the Diablos were playing a series down there. No brainer. I went down there last season to see a couple of games when the Pericos played the Tigres, and enjoyed the kinda nice, kinda small park. I arrived early for Friday's game, intent on getting a good seat. From what I can tell, Mexican baseball seems to have a general admission policy everywhere, so arriving early was good for getting sat right behind home plate. Sat in the fourth row simply because the netting was kinda badly repaired at the bottom, with another layer of netting covering the gaps in the main layer, so the view was pretty crappy. Fourth row, though, I was right behind the dudes with the speed guns measuring the speed of every pitch.

Sitting that close, with that good a view of the pitcher and batter, was a revelation. Utterly amazing. I never played baseball , so I've never seen what it looks like having a curveball or slider coming at you, but being that close, I saw movement. So much movement. It was fantastic. Seeing sliders sliding, seeing how curvey curveballs can be. Even seeing movement on fastballs. The best moment for me during the game was seeing one of the Diablos pitchers, who'd used his curveball a bunch, leave one hanging and hearing the crack of good contact by Pericos center fielder, and former Marlin and Astro, Reggie Abercrombie, who smacked it into the left field corner for a ground rule double.

Sat in the first row, though, were a couple of dudes who were doing that bullshit thing people do: waving their arms around trying to distract the Diablos' pitcher. I've often heard it said that the Diablos Rojos are like the Yankees of Mexican baseball. They've been successful, there's a no facial hair policy, and it would seem, fans of other teams hate them. This is something I'd only really experienced in the vaguest sense at home games, but there were a fair few anti-Diablos chants at both the games on Friday and Saturday.

For Saturday's game, the sunshine dictated that I sat in a different section, in the shade above the first base line. Both games were pretty close, but as someone who has watched some terrible Diablos pitching all season, Saturday's game was a joy. Starting pitcher Francisco Rosario went five innings, striking out four, and only giving up one hit. In the sixth, Oswaldo Martinez gave up a hit, then four more relievers combined to allow no more Pericos hits. A two-hit shut out. Good stuff.

Back in Mexico City, it was the Día del Niños on Tuesday. Primero de Mayo is a public holiday, too, so the Diablos had an afternoon game. Aside from a few between-innings kids stuff with the mascot on the field, not really sure what was special about it for kids, cos the dude in front of me in the ticket queue asked if kids were free, and was told they weren't. It was one of the least enjoyable games I've been to. Diablos beat the Saraperos fairly convincingly, but it was like being at one of those camp day games. Kids everywhere. I have no children, I have no desire to ever have children, but I've got nothing against children, they seem like decent people on the whole, but stick a couple of thousand of them in the same place, and I find myself shrinking down into grumpiness.

It all got a bit much with crying, tetchy, bored kids around in the later innings; I wasn't really enjoying being there, so for only the fourth time, I left a game before it ended. (The other times: in 2008, I left Angel Stadium because the last train from Anaheim to downtown L.A. was due to leave at some point in the ninth inning. In 2010, on my first night in Toronto, I left the SkyDome early because, well, it was my first night in town and I wanted to experience some nightlife. And last season, I left a Diablos game cos I was feeling poorly.)

Last night, the attendance had shot its load with the kids day. A Wednesday 7pm game after a public holiday, I counted around 120 people in the infield between-the-bases upper area. Official attendance was 962, but that's bullshit. Mas o menos 500 total. But it was a decent game. I had a pleasant chat with a security guard, and had a chat with Luis, the friendly beer vendor. He looks like the sort of guy who I won never want to get into a fight with, but he's always nice to me, and he smiles a lot. I found out more about his history when I asked if he enjoyed baseball. He said of course, "I'm Cuban!" My Spanish isn't good enough to distinguish between a Mexican and Cuban accent. He's loved in the States, too. He reeled off a load of cities he'd lived in (Miami, New York, Seattle, Portland) before he came to live in Mexico. I asked about the food in Cuba. He gave a "it's okay" face, confirming what others have told me. We chatted about the differences between the price of beer at the park here (35 pesos, US$2.68) and the price of the same beer in Puebla (25 pesos, US$1.92). Luis is of the opinion that the change in beer supplier this season is one of the reasons for the poor attendance here; that more people preferred Corona and Victoria than they do Modelo Especial.

Anyway, it was a decent game: pretty good pitching kept it close. 2-for-14 with RISP tells you why the Diablos lost, though. But the ballpark DJ played "Quick and to the Pointless" by Queens of the Stone Age, so that was good. I like games like last night's, though. Not for what happened on the field, or the lack of people in the stands; just that point you get to when you've got past that initial euphoria of the first couple of games of the season, where IT! IS! BACK!, and you settle down to a win here, a loss there, where you attend a game, and it's a pleasant relaxing end to the working day. I still get excited by rallies, still shake my head when Gabriel Gutierrez bunts with two outs (and later in the game bunted with two strikes), but on the whole, there's this very attractive scene in front of my eyes. Which is why I will go again tonight.