Tuesday, October 17, 2006

you say detroyes, i say detroit

first, i just have to say that i think i just ate one of the best oranges of my life. i’m not kidding you. the other day niña teresita came to my door and gave me three oranges from the tree here in the courtyard of the hostal and i’m telling you, i’ve never in my life tasted an orange this unbelievably perfect. it was sweet and juicy and nothing like any of the oranges i’ve ever eaten in all my 34 years. i’ve never really liked oranges all that much anyway – orange juice, yes. and at times i’ve eaten oranges, but the whole pulp thing...all that filmy junk in between the sections just wasn’t my thing. but once i moved down here, i started eating lots of oranges mostly because they are virtually free and taste better than any of the oranges i’d eaten in the states. but these three oranges niña teresita gave me? oh my god. you guys are missing out, let me tell ya.

well, was that a ALCS series or what? i mean, honestly....i’m not a big oakland hater at all, and even at one point in my past had the hots for oakland’s third baseman, eric chavez (he’s still kind of cute), but seriously, did they even show up for that series against detroit? the good part of it all is this: i got to watch three of the four games on “ESPN vivo,” right here in the hostal in apaneca! here’s how...

the night of the first game, i was reading in my room and much, much later after the game would have been over, i turned on my cell phone to set the alarm for the next morning and i saw i had a text message from antonio. it read:

“hola. te cuento están pasando el partido el detroyes en el canal veinte y cuatro.”

basically, just telling me that detroit was playing on channel 24. i was like “what????” but, like i said, it was really late and surely over and so i went to bed cursing the fact that i could have watched the game, but instead was in my room reading. anyway, the next a.m. antonio then called me really super early to relay the news that “detroyes” won the game! the thing with the “detroyes” is that people who speak spanish have no idea how to form the letters “oit” in their language. it’s just not something they have ever had to do. like how some people who speak english can’t rrrrrroll their r’s. on second thought, detroit’s a french word anyway, and we are saying it wrong too. it’s most likely “detroye,” or “detwoi,” (i’m not sure about the french pronunciation), not “detroiT” so who am i to say that spanish people can’t say it right? anyway, so i was happy that detroiT or detwoi or detroyes won.

that day i made sure i was in front of the televisor for game two. i sat there, alone (sob, sob) saying things like “that was a classic slide!” (who says this except for a total baseball nerd?) or “c’mon – we need a hit!” or “how the fuck did milton fucking bradley hit ANOTHER home run?” all to myself, but outloud, within the confines of the lobby of the hostal. every once in a while the crazy parrot in the next room would caw and what-not, but always at really bad times....like when oakland would get a hit or something. anyway, towards the end of that game after todd jones loaded the bases in the bottom of the 9th, i was sitting on the edge of my seat with my head in my hands. but he got through it and they won again.

so friday came and i was bound and determined to catch the game again, even if it was going to be on earlier. 4:00 ET to be exact. so that morning i went to the school and met up with the volunteer who was visiting my site and showed him around, did some worm stuff with the kids. then after lunch we both left – me to ahuachapán, him back to the host family he was staying with while here. i found out the meeting that i was supposed to be going to wasn’t going to happen, so i ran some errands and bolted (well, as fast as a salvadoran bus goes....i wouldn’t say bolted is an appropriate adjective to use in describing salvadoran buses) back to apaneca. i turn on the game at 4:00 and it’s like the bottom of the 4th or 5th. huh? then i remember that el sal’s two hours behind ET and i should have had my fat ass parked on the sofa in the lobby at 2:00. but no worries, detroit’s ahead and kenny rogers is cruising along to his eventual blanking of los atléticos. kenny rogers is a crazy man. seriously, even when he’s just sitting in the dugout watching relief pitchers close out the game for him he looks like a crazy person. but whatever, he got the win. tigers are up 3-0. meanwhile, i’m thinking about all the predictions i read on “the internets” about how the tigers were good, but not THAT good. tony gwynn predicted this series would be a good one, but eventually the a’s would take it in seven....citing a bunch of defensive abilities that he thinks the tigers just don’t have.

so it’s saturday, time for game four. i read in the sección de deportes in “el diario” (one of el sal’s newspapers) about the tigers’ win the night before. at some point in the article they are mentioning players of the game and one of them, to my utter surprise, is placido domingo. i honestly did not have any clue that the tigers had signed on a large opera singer to play second base for the team. not only that, but he was one of the stars of friday night’s game! wow! oh, i see, it was supposed to be “placido polanco” not placido domingo. you say domingo, i say polanco. poor polanco, probably all his life has been compared to that OTHER placido. you know, the one that can sing. anyway.

i’m laying around in the hammock on the back porch of the hostal, after having a horrendous morning in ahuachapán (never go to a latin american city on market day, what a friggin’ nightmare). i’m waiting for john (the volunteer) to meet me at the hostal and he shows up right around the time the tigers game is gonna start. but i’m thinking – maybe it’s better not to see the first part of the game anyways....let them get started without me maniacally trying to catch every word of the ESPN vivo’s mexican sportscasters words (surprisingly easier to understand than most salvadorans). so i let it go and chat with john on the back porch for a couple hours. around 3:30 or 4:00 or something, i tell him i’m gonna check in with los tigres and see how they’re doing. john goes to the internet place and i click on the televisor and what’s this? tigers down? 3-0? but, surprisingly, as soon as i make myself at home on the sofa, they add two runs. 3-2 isn’t bad. eric chavez is making horrible plays left and right which surprises me as tony gwynn’s predictions of the a’s taking the series included how many golden gloves eric chavez has. well niether his glove, nor his arm, were anywhere near golden on saturday. more like cubic zirconia if you ask me.

john returns, the innings are ticking away. antonio shows up and before entering the hostal, excitedly says “3-3? el partido con detroyes?” i shuffle him in and he sits down and we three watch the game. i’m trying to explain to antonio that even if it becomes the 9th inning and the score is 3-3, the game won’t end. they’ll play until somebody gets more runs. then john and i are laughing at how in spanish, some of the words for things in baseball are the same as in english. like “foul” and “out” and “base” and “inning.” they are just said with the accents in different areas. like “fowul” would be how you say “foul.” and “bahsay” would be how you say “base.” but homerun is “jonrón.” it’s almost the same....but funny.

finally, it gets down to the 8th and i’m like “i can’t watch!” but antonio suggests we go eat pupusas and watch the game there because don michel has a television in the pupuseria. so we three go and antonio gets the kids to change the televisor from cartoons to the game. as we’re waiting, it’s the bottom of the ninth, two on, two out and magglio gets up to bat. i tell antonio that magglio hit a “jonrón” earlier in the game. john, who really has no interest in baseball (i don’t think....but my god, this guy is the undeniable king of traveling....you name the place, he’s been there!) is even getting into it. so magglio does it. he hits another jonrón and ends the game and i’m pumping my fists and saying “yes!” and antonio’s like “se terminó?” (that’s the end?) and john’s like “wow!” and everyone else in the pupuseria is staring at me and my table like we are crazy folk. ESPN vivo keeps replaying the ¨jonrón¨ over and over and showing comerica park erupting into emotion and craziness. they show the handing out of the ALCS trophy and the fans and the players with their new champion t-shirts. and i’m sitting in a pupuseria in el fucking salvador with nothing more to do, no other way to celebrate, except eat my frijol con queso pupusas that have just been put in front of me.

and you know, i’m thinking later, all this depression about being down here sola and not having any of my die-hard tigers’ fans friends and my parents, especially, to celebrate or watch games with, is really just me feeling sorry for myself. pathetic, i know. but i think it’s cool that i’ve gotten at least one person down here (antonio) - who didn’t really know that much about baseball before - to get into it. and now he’s asking me “when’s the next game?” and “who are they playing?” there’s been a little exchange of sports culture here – me learning more about soccer, him learning more about baseball. so things are fine. and while everyone is up there cheering and poring over detroit free press and toledo blade articles....and, ahem, cleveland plain dealer...shudder....articles....i’ll probably be the only one who has in her possession an article where it is claimed that placido domingo helped the tigers win one of their games!

but as my dad said, in one of our day-after-the-game chats, the big win was over the yankees. we both agreed we have nothing against most american league teams and while it was great to see the tigers win the ALCS, the big victory was contra los yanquis. they, and the entire media, think they can do no wrong. ever. when it’s simply not the case. even after they lost, most articles on the net were about whether or not joe torre was gonna get fired. not that the a’s swept the twins, or that the tigers actually beat the yankees. not much about the cardinals or mets either. most of the space was taken up by articles about the speculation that joe torre was going to lose his job. the articles should have been about the fact that steinbrenner pays all those guys shitloads of money to play and it didn’t even get him anything. his formula didn’t work. it wasn’t joe torre’s formula that failed, it was steinbrenner’s. steinbrenner thinks that by buying every single one of the players in the league with the highest batting average or lowest ERA or whatever means you’re automatically gonna win every game, all the time. steinbrenner’s not totally at fault, though. the players are to blame too. i liked alex rodriguez when he played for seattle. i respected him and his game but he couldn’t turn down the dinero AND the idea of playing for the yankees AND the possibility of getting that ring. sure, teams offer good players more money – often times the most of the rest of the team. pudge rodriguez came to detroit from florida, mostly because of the money – but he certainly wasn’t going to detroit because he thought he’d automatically get another world series ring. the tigers SUCKED when he came on board, and continued to suck after he was there. how many “stars” are on the tigers this year? magglio? pudge? rogers, maybe? although he was pretty much labeled the clown with a temper before he joined the team.

it seems that if you have a couple of really good players – stars, if you will - you can work with that and get the rest of the team to work together and become a better team as a whole, without shelling out a ton of money. and that’s where you get great players like polanco and guillen (who, actually, i’d probably label a star) and bonderman and verlander and the rest. that’s managing. not having a bunch of studs and basically just sending them up to the plate every other inning and not doing anything to actually manage them. basically what steinbrenner does is give joe torre a bunch of egos to manage, not a baseball team. he hordes all the best thinking it’s an automatic ticket to the world series. but the thing is, sometimes it works. and sometimes it doesn’t. it’s not automatic. which is where steinbrenner fails. miserably. so whatever.

there are lots of people with yankees rants. yes, they are a legendary team, but it seems that as of late, they’ve made a laughing stock of the game. and that’s sad. but totally my opinion. and you know, all of baseball has really taken a turn for the worse this past decade or so. but i reserve most of my disdain for the yankees because they are at the front of this....and a lot of teams think they have no choice but to follow in their footsteps because they started this whole thing, paying out tons of money just to get to the world series. but they can’t even do that because the media only wants yankees coverage. so even if other teams wanted to become as world series hungry as steinbrenner is, they couldn’t possibly compete with him. it’s a vicious cycle i suppose that will only get worse as time goes on.

but i don’t want to be like those yankee-loving media people and find a way to make my entire entry about the yankees. so let me close with this! one day back when i was living in cleveland, my dad came to visit me on a typical dreary cleveland day and we went to the local bar in my neighborhood. at the time, the indians were buzzsawing their way through the season, clearing their opponents left and right, in first place in the AL central. the tigers were cellar dwellers, as was usual ‘round this time. i was being ridiculed at work (filled with indians fans – bandwagon and die-hard). as we sat there in the bar, surrounded by indians memorabilia at every turn, my dad laughed and said that the tigers would go to the world series before the indians would go again (let alone win). and i laughed and i believed him, because, my dad has a really uncanny knack for predicting things like this. and i remember telling everyone that he said that and of course, was always met with laughs and “yeah, rights” given the situation the indians were in at that very moment. but i faced the music and year after year the indians began doing a little worse each season, farther and farther away from that hallowed entry into the world series. and here we are.....have the indians gone to the world series since then? i think not.