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Baseball At Its Best…Los Guerreros de Oaxaca
Where else but in Mexico can you park two blocks from the ballpark, buy a pair of field-level seats next to the dugout, eat a personal-size pizza, eat beer, candy, lollipops and tic-tac-toes, and have so much more fun . three hours on a hot and windy evening, all for about $15 USD.
The Mexican baseball season begins each March, with the Oaxaca team (the Guerreros, one of 16 in this two-division league) playing their games in Lic. Eduardo Vasconcelos Stadium, a little further from the city center. When my wife and I attended our first game, we were seriously impressed, not unlike attending the Skydome (now The Rogers Centre) to see the Toronto Blue Jays. I’ll preface my comments by noting that the league is equivalent to Triple A, meaning the quality of play is extremely good, with potential and former Major Leaguers on the teams…in 2005, the Guerreros had Felix Jose, a former Cardinals quality hitter in early 90s.
I arrived at the park to purchase tickets a few days before the scheduled game and wanted to make sure I got the best seats, only to be told that tickets go on sale at 4:00 PM, game day. To my surprise, the ticket office opened a little before the hour. My wife wanted a “best” pair. When she got back to the car, I noticed that the 55 peso tickets were not lined up, so I sent her to inquire and change seats if necessary. To be honest… there was one row of seats on top of the other. Who knew that when you ask to buy a pair of tickets, you have to bet that you want them next to each other? The contestant gave my wife a hard time but eventually gave in and switched places.
We got back to the park for the 7:30 opening and easily found street parking…not many places charge $20 to park. But where were our seats? We asked at least four stadium employees, none of whom were able to direct us to our seats, until finally someone tried to direct us properly. EXACTLY. Not only is the field surface in front of the visitors’ (Mexico) dugout covered, but in the event of rain and next to the bullpen.
The game followed the typical AL format, with the designated hitter (Felix Jose for the Guerreros) and the announcer doing the same job as his counterpart in the majors, not without predicting the name and position of each upcoming hitter with an announcement for one of the many games. sponsors whose presence is front and center, both on the players’ uniforms and on the pitch walls. The scoreboard was no surprise, but it took a while to figure out some of the player positions just by looking at the letter designations…no problem with SS, 1B, 2B, and 3B. But what about JI, CF and JD? I thought I did it with Center Square, but the other two threw me off. The announcer then introduced the Right Fielder, Giardinero Derecho (JD), which literally translates to “Right Gardener.” After a few moments it made sense that he had a penchant for the grass in right field…but why doesn’t Fielder’s position suit the Mexican style? Everything fell into place in short order, with each player having a number on their shirt, but only the name VOLKSWAGEN appearing on the back.
The ten cheerleaders were a pleasant surprise, doing an admirable job, though neither choreographed nor coordinated as well as in the NFL or NBA. However, seeing these young women in the gym with some flesh on their bodies is not what we are used to and have accepted north of the border with regret. The music on the audio system was a unique mix of what is found at MLB and NHL games with the standard intros of “CHARGE” and the like, traditional Oaxacan tunes including Pinotepa and popular American and Canadian numbers by artists such as MC. Hammer Revival and Creedence Clearwater. The fifth cleaning crew did their job, albeit without the Lone Ranger theme song to egg them on; a traditional field competition for children was held; and vendors preferred us to buy lottery tickets.
While I have to admit that while baseball is the most boring spectator sport in North America (basketball, ice hockey, football, soccer, and baseball in descending order), after the gradual change in major league ballparks to allow alcohol consumption drinks I come to play from time to time, chat with a friend or business partner, soak up some rays and fresh air (when the dome is open in Toronto) and drink beer and fill up on my dogs, donuts and delicious rich ice cream bars. Oaxacan-style pigging has proven similarly orgasmic, though not being able to drink a mezcalito or three shakes the libido. There was an interesting booth a few steps away from our seats, in addition to the usual vendors passing through the booths. The range of fare includes, naturally, Corona, soft drinks, hot tacos wrapped in plastic and foil, personal hot boxes, Domino’s Hawaiian pizza with all the ketchup packets you want, nuts, seeds and colorful dried fruit. the display card offers esquites (large hot corn tubes in a bowl with mayonnaise, chili powder, lime and grated cheese) as well as typical street corner items including gum, chocolates, hard candies and cigarettes.
Perhaps the biggest similarity to attending an MLB game was that the home team lost…just like Toronto did after two shutouts in the early 90’s. While I wouldn’t expect attending a Guerreros game to be high on the list of priorities for tourists spending just a week in town, both for locals and tourists who are here for the long haul, baseball in Oaxaca is a fun and provides entertainment for spending time. how many hours The regular season runs through the end of July, with four playoff series starting in September. You can visit the stadium to find out about promotions including T-shirt and cap days, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
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