Saturday, January 16, 2010

Granada Oriental Sharks vs Lion Lions

So, I went to the Granada-León baseball game tonight, and I thought I'd share my thoughts, because there was a lot to take in. First, the more general stuff. I found it very amusing that a city that has so many hot dog vendors had none at the baseball stadium. The logical explanation is that hot dogs are here for the tourists. Given that they're really only in Parque Central, I think that must be true. That said, it strikes me as very strange that they seem to think that Americans eat mostly hot dogs. Sure, a nice ballpark frank hits the spot from time to time, but it’s pretty far from a staple outside of sports venues.

The Granada team, as I mention in the pictures, is called the Tiburones (sharks). For reasons I do not remotely understand, they are also called Oriental. Some things said Tiburones, others said Oriental. Others said Granada. It's like if the New York Mets were also the New York Europes, and the names were used interchangeably. Unfortunately, two names weren't enough to will them to victory, as the Oriental Sharks dropped game 1 of the series, 3-1. León's team name, by the way, as far as I can tell, is the Leónes. This means their name, translated, is the Lion Lions.

Culturally, the game was just straight crazy. Both teams have brass bands, and songs that they sing. The most common chant was "ponche," as in "punch" as in "punch-out" as in "strike out." The starting pitcher for Granada (he looked like Guillermo Mota, and I sort of hope he was) did a nice job and got a number of these two-strike chants, and a number of those also paid off. The place is packed to the gills and seats are general admission. Moreover, if you get up from your seat, you can expect that it will likely be gone when you return, unless your friends are willing to be very agressive on your behalf. I actually watched the game standing up behind all the chairs, because we couldn't find enough seats.

Easily the best thing is the chant they do during a rally: "¡Sí se puede!" I was pretty psyched to get to chant along with that one. Unfortunately, Obama couldn't come through for the Tiburones. Other noticeable cultural things: they use scantily-clad women even more than we do, they don't do a seventh inning stretch, and the teams arrive in school buses. Different parts of the stadium are fenced off, so that you can't move to the infield if your ticket is for the outfield, and vice versa. There were tons of very aggressive scalpers in the parking lot, yelling at us that the ticket office was sold out, but for 100 Córdobas, ($5 US), they would sell us tickets. It wasn't sold out, so we paid our 40 Córdobas ($2 US) instead.

This is the part where I'm going into seamhead (a.k.a. baseball devotee) territory, so if you don't really care about interesting baseball things, you might want to skip the rest. Thing 1: I know you can't walk your way off the Dominican Republic, but apparently you also can't walk up through Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. The first walk of the game did not occur until the top of the 8th inning. In fact, the first three-ball count of the game occurred in the top of the 8th inning (and subsequently turned into the first walk). Moreover, the batter walked on four pitches, and it may well have been the old unintentional intentional walk (I couldn't tell because I had no way of knowing who the players were). There was also an intentional walk in the 8th, to load the bases for Granada's second consecutive inning-ending rally-killing double play.

Friends, I saw some moments of fundamentally unsound baseball tonight. I know, it's not exactly the Major Leagues, or even the NY-Penn League, or even the Venezuelan Winter League. But wow. The León centerfielder dropped a routine pop-up (granted it may have been Luis Castillo, I don't know). Players were hacking at everything, chopping grounders. The Tiburones stranded at least three runners at third, after they got them with less than two outs. One guy came up in the second with a runner on 3rd and one out and promptly struck out swinging at something stupid. Another player bunted and dove into first base, giving me horrible memories of Robbie Alomar, Roger Cedeno, and the 2002 Mets. There was some really bad baserunning. One player failed to score from second on a single, when he really should have, but he stopped at 3rd. Another guy hit a grounder down the 3rd base line that was a clear single, and he got thrown out at second by about 20 feet, trying to stretch it into a double. León were able to win because they hit three solo homers, and Granada beat themselves. In the 7th inning, Granada was down 3-1 with a runner on 1st and 3rd and one out, and hit into a double play. Next inning, bases loaded, one down, and another double play. On the second pitch (first was about two feet outside).

The aforementioned pitcher who looked like Guillermo Mota had a Mota-Piazza type moment at one point. He got out of a jam--largely thanks to a friendly out call on a León player over-running first base and getting tagged--and pumped his fist and jumped up and down like crazy. This was in the 5th inning, when he had already given up the first two home runs of the three he would allow, and his team was down 2-0. I don't really care when players show emotion, and sometimes it's nice to know they're as pumped as you are. But this was a bit much given the situation. And I do know that if he were, in fact, in the majors, he would get a fastball up at his eyes.

It was a really fun experience, and felt like a much rowdier and somewhat dirtier version of watching a Mets game in St. Lucie. I'm pretty sure they even borrowed some of the stupid drunk fans I've seen in Queens, and taught them to swear in Spanish. Really fun time though, and now I'm off to bed*.


*Note: I'm writing this at home after the game on Friday night, even though it will actually go online midday Saturday (I think).

**For those interested, here's the recap of the game (via Google Translate).



  1. Very jealous that you took in live baseball in January, even if the were sometimes Castillo-esque.

  2. Hey, glad to hear you had a good time. I'm also really glad to see you had time to go to the princess bride costume store before the ball game!

  3. Jay - Yeah, there were moments that it washed over me that I was in 80 degree weather watching baseball and I just couldn't stop smiling.

    Matt - a) I hate you, b) I actually removed the stupid string after the game. I hadn't gotten to look in a mirror, so I didn't realize quite how much I looked like I had developed a strong resistance to Iocane powder.


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