I’m learning which of the Games are most popular by the wait time to get into each event. Yesterday, I showed up to the preliminaries for Men’s Volleyball and ended up waiting 3 hours without even getting in. Today, preparing for the worst, Federico and I arrived an hour and half before the Colombian baseball game to find no one there. This was perplexing. Baseball is popular in Latin America, especially around the Caribbean, where it is often favored over soccer. Inland, only Mexico, Nicaragua, Colombia and Venezuela have Professional Baseball Leagues. Colombia has sent 7 different players in MLB in the United States, while Venezuela has sent over 200, three of which are currently on my Seattle Mariners. Fede explained to me that the lack of spectators was likely related to the fact that Colombian Baseball is a Coastal thing, we were in Baranquilla, it would have been packed.
We got to watch Venezuela destroy Argentina 16-4, if it gets to the 7th inning and a team is 10 runs up, they just call the game. Next up was Colombia vs. Dutch Antilles. The vocabulary of the stadium announcer was great. He called the game for Colombia in Spanish and Dutch Antilles in English. So when Colombia was up to bat, it was “Carlos Villalobos, jardiniera isqiuerda (left fielder)” and “Johan Gorgian, leff FEEL” for Dutch Antilles. Other vocab was a bit more similar for some: cacher (catcher), bolas (balls), estraíc (strike), and JONRÓN (home run) and different for others: lanzador (pitcher), carraras (runs), capitulo (inning), and corre-corre (pickle).
The Antilles were a better rated team, they had beaten Venezuela previously and were the tournament favorites. The first few innings were sloppy: lots of runners left on base, 4 or 5 errors; it made me realize how good American baseball is and why all of these players want to be in the MLB (aside from the cash). Once the teams started to settle down we got a good game, starting with a lead-off Jonrón shot from Juan Carlos Llamas. By the 7th, you could see visible frustration among the Antilles players, angry that things were not unfolding how they expected, but they managed to rally back, almost tying the score before Colombia was able to put them away 4-3. My favorite part of the whole experience was the field we were on had a crowd capacity of about 1,000, and it finally filled up. Youngsters in grade school (who had no idea about the rules) happily clapped along to the organ and shrieked in delight whenever a foul ball bounced off the fence in front of them. There were a few die-hard baseball fanatics there, (probably Costeños), I could tell because they were the only ones who knew to yell “Charge!” after the organ count-up.