Posted by: elsalamigrande | February 6, 2010

Guzman Trotts on Home… Serie Del Caribe Television edition.

Thursday, inevitably, the two gringos who decided to come halfway around the hemisphere to watch a ball tournament in Venezuela were stricken with a case of traveler’s diarrhea that made watching ballgames a television-only activity. I couldn’t risk being at the ballpark faced with that kind of inconsistency.

So we watched a much anticipated tilt between Venezuela and the Dominican Republic  in the evening game on the tube in the hotel room, trying to figure out where it all went wrong. The leftover roast beast, in retrospect, might have been best forgotten instead of put on a roll with some avocado. Now, I’ve learned. I think.

The undefeated Dominican Republic were a force to be reckoned with Thursday night. Everyone was hitting, the pitchers were finding their spots. It’s hard to believe that these were, for the most part, minor league guys still looking for a place in the show, and free agents trying to prove that they aren’t wash-ups. Every player in this tournament looks like they’re in mid-season form.

The Pregame interview with Caracas Leones manager Dave Hudgens betrayed the fact that the Leones clubhouse was aware of what most observers already knew. “The guys are excited about this game because if we win, we’ll be in the hunt for the rest of ‘em.” In other words, loose, and Venezuela would be tied with Mexico and Puerto Rico at 1-2. The Dominican would be the runaway leader at 3-0.

Venezuela went ahead 2-0 in the third on an Oscar Salazar dinger and stayed ahead until the DR started to chip away in the 6th with a walk, a wild pitch, a single, and another single. Here come the Dominicans. In the 7th, they started chipping away again one base at a time; a walk, stolen base, another walk, a single to right, tie game. Then, with two outs in the seventh, the Caracas pitcher Darwin Cubian threw to first to check the runner, and Freddy Guzman took off from third leaving a cloud of dust. I think it was a hit and run, because when the pitcher started his pickoff move with a convincing leg kick, Guzman was already on his horse. Pickoffs are often the antidote to hit-and runs, but only if the runner hesitates, and Freddy Guzman did not. It was full bore down the line into a head first slide. The throw came from the first base side, and catcher Carlos Meladono did everything right – blocked the plate, applied the tag – but it didn’t matter. The call was decisive and final. Safe. The Dominicans were ahead by a run and it would finish that way.

It looked from the replays like a case could have been made that Freddy was tagged out. That’s baseball. Sometimes the bounces go the other way. For that game, I was lucky to have the advantage of a broadcast to allow for either certainty or an informed second guess. There is no video replay at the Estadio Nueva Espartica, possibly because such a thing could cause a riot under the wrong circumstances, or possibly because the infrastructure and talent just isn’t here yet to create an in-park audio visual experience like the ones we get in The Bigs. No doubt, though, the staff is learning. The first games we watched didn’t even have posted lineups. Recently, the players’ mugshots, names and teams are displayed prominently on the video-screen. Eventually, I hope to see a batting average or some kind of statistic.

Largely, though, it doesn’t matter. Freddy Guzman’s on-base percentage isn’t going to dull the sharp sting that ran through Porlamar (and ostensibly the rest of the country) when they faced the fact that the 1-2 Leones, who looked unbeatable coming in, now looked like they were going to blow it.



  1. Hey did you forget the friendly flora? sounds like your having a great time but stay away from that roast beast!!

    • sounds like your enjoying your time there remember to take your friendly flora and stay away from the roast beast

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