Tag Archives: game

Players, Personality and Major Fuego for the Game

Feugo 002


“Hey, Fuego fans, let’s pass the hat for Matt Patrone’s home run,” the PA announcer says amid cheers. I’m certain Patrone’s blast here in Fort Marcy Ballpark, a Pecos League venue, would have been at least a ground rule double in about any major league park (a place no fan passes a hat for home runs after paying what he did to get into the park).

The next hitter lines a pitch out of play toward the parking lot behind the dugout. Hard hitters, these Santa Fe Fuegos.

“That foul ball is brought to you by Discount Glass and Glazing. Just mention Fuego baseball and get a discount on your next purchase.” I love it. This place has personality.

The woman in charge of collecting money for tickets wanders over to me from her top row seat. She’s right on time. We’d made a deal if I liked the place I chose to sit with my dog, Rusty, after two trial innings, she’d only charge $3. Dogs aren’t allowed in the $6 seats behind home plate. Either way, what bargains. I’m glad the Fuegos are in an independent pro baseball league, not even a minors system affiliated with a team in the majors. Think I’d be able to bring my beach chair, let alone dog, into their ballparks?

Sitting behind the Trinidad Triggers dugout, Rusty and I notice a Trigger player come our way. On his walk to the park’s all purpose port-a-potty, he stops to pet Rusty. He even lets me take pictures of the two together. On his return trip to the dugout, he gives Rusty some more love, saying that with so much time on the road, he misses his dogs back home terribly.

Strangely, however, the Trigger player doesn’t go into the dugout, but sits on top of it. In fact, neither the Triggers nor Fuego players sit in their dugouts – they sit around the dugouts.  It must be a Pecos League tradition. Again, what personality.

Out of nowhere, a pop foul comes my way and I catch it! – something I’ve never done in all my years attending crowded major league and AAA games. I feel special, like a kid again. I’d like to think that’s what baseball should be, a special connection directly from pitcher to batter to fan. To continue the link, I give my cherished first ball to a two-year-old who’s apparently already caught baseball fever.

Where else do you bring your own lawn chair to a professional baseball game? Negotiate a price and place to sit with your dog? Have more fun, pay less and see a competitive sporting event?  Switch gears from watching the game on the field to playing catch with a kid and then going back to the game. See players perform for practically nothing just for the love of the game?

Where else is there a meeting on the field of every team member in the bottom of the fifth inning for team unity, spirit and awareness of what this is all about?  Where else is there a pro sporting event where the majority of fans leave their cell phone behind? Fuego baseball is where.

It’s life in the moment for fans and particularly the impressionable young men playing. It’s a spirited, fast game. You have to watch closely. There are no scoreboard replays, let alone bathrooms every fifty feet.

I love the game just the way it is. I’m sorry the season is over. I’ll be back for 2016, connecting this season’s joy with the next.Feugo 006

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I Don’t Get My Life Back Until They Lose. They Just Lost. Now I Don’t Like My Life

BSirois 48bit 800 color dust087There’s a hole in my heart only a puck can fill.

Yes, I’m a hockey fan. A Washington Capitals hockey fan. I saw eighty regular season games on cable this year (well, most of them), all in hopes my Caps would make the Stanley Cup playoffs for only the second time in their forty-year history.

Well, they made the playoffs. That’s where the hysteria began.

Playoff madness takes over your mind, your life and you lose all perspective. Time becomes a blur. For any avid fan, life’s goal changes from spending time with friends and loved ones to intimately following your team through all four playoff rounds (and a possible twenty-eight games over a sixty day period) just so you can watch your ice heroes hoist the Stanley Cup sometime in June. June, as in beautiful late spring, early summer. When the weather is nice to be outside again. When chores need to be done. Yards need to be tended. What, little Johnnie is six now? When did that happen?

The worst part of the playoffs is pace: a game, a night off, another game, a night off – there’s practically no break until your team loses a best-of-seven round and is eliminated. I’m tired and the Caps only went two rounds this year. Think what it must be like to go to the finals.

If you’re a Caps fan, it gets even worse. Their hockey MO is to stretch series to the seven game limit. They cannot win or lose in four – they love teasing you with 3-1 series leads, then blowing the next three games. Sometimes they blow the next two and pull out the seventh in overtime, having succeeded in wearing themselves out just to do it all over again for another series, then ask for more.

They also love close games. There are no blow outs. They love overtime. They once played a playoff game into four overtimes, finally losing at 2 AM (I saw that one personally and stayed to the bitter end).

This is very difficult on fans. Sleep patterns are disrupted. Eating times are often rearranged. Bad moods last for days. Weight is gained. Interest in other activities wanes. Actually, bad moods never end. Unless … (until) you win the Cup.

The Capitals should be playing tonight. Had they beaten The New York Rangers in game seven Tuesday (losing in overtime, 2-1), they’d be playing Tampa Bay this weekend in the Eastern Conference finals. I miss the misery. I miss my emotions being yanked up and down like a yo-yo. I miss having to skip laundry because the game is on. I miss screaming at the TV, “Take that, Marcel #!%@* de &#@!#, you &#%$!!!”

Time now to clean the bathroom, refill prescriptions, vacuum, replace burned out light bulbs, refill the empty freezer case, take the snow shovel away from the front door, fix the front door lock, dust.  No wonder I can’t wait for the first preseason game in September.


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Patriots vs. Seahawks and Swords vs. Stickum

Coliseum 48bit 800 dpi 168Tonight’s Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale will be glitzy. Confetti will fly. Crowds will roar. Players will battle. Owners will … well … be owners.

But down on the field, football is brutal and violent. How savage this game is.

So, what’s the difference between the Super Bowl and vicious Roman gladiator fights of two thousand years ago?

Nothing. Well, one thing – death. Gladiators battled with swords until they or their opponents died. NFL players battle until the scrawny referee’s gun goes off.  (However, note that some NFL players will act dead to get a free injury time out, giving Coach time to figure out why the team’s been getting slaughtered.) Whether the game is played today or way back then, it’s all about competition, period. Modern football may not allow gladiator swords, but stickum, gloves and deflated balls may be. Anything to win.

What both spectacles have most in common is spectatorship. Believe it or not, two thousand years ago, just like today, fans were entertained by players bearing fantastic tattoos. Muscular combatants love to parade the fancy tattoos etched on their svelte, muscular bodies. Fat players wear tattoos, too, but get much less attention, the only difference that fat NFL players earn enough money to buy every tattoo parlor on the planet while fat gladiators were happy just to live for another day and another tattoo.

The significance of fans’ interaction with players can never be overlooked. When a gladiator was wounded, Romans heckled, “habet, peractum est!” (i.e., “He’s had it, it’s all over”). Similarly, tonight, New England fans will yell, “Ged ap ya bam ‘n stap fakkin’ it!” (expletives deleted). Fans will do almost anything to get into stadiums for the chance to dialogue with players. Unfortunately, many Romans weren’t even allowed through the stone turnstiles because they were gravediggers, actors or former gladiators. The NFL, however, will take anyone’s money.

Left-handedness is another aspect that has bonded these two sports. Fans were treated to the Coliseum’s special Left-handers Event, enjoying the slaughter of fighters, unable to handle moves and blocks suddenly coming in from the left side. Similarly in the NFL (Steve Young, Boomer Esiason and Mark Brunell aside), fans have adored watching millionaire left-handed quarterbacks get mauled and blindsided. Lefties never make good pro quarterbacks and only waste high draft picks, and thus deserve to be eaten alive.

Roman citizens discovered news of big upcoming matches by reading announcements on street walls. Today, unless in a coma, everyone knows the Super Bowl is coming. Entertainment between gladiator clashes included public executions right on the field.  Billion dollar commercials will be shown tonight that, if not funny, will feel as disastrous as watching an execution.

After a long run of popularity, Rome’s great games faded out in 432 AD due to the high cost of curing gladiators. Time will tell if the NFL will run out of money. My guess is the NFL will eventually pay such high insurance and litigation fees for decades of player concussions and injures that it will go bankrupt. Ouch.

Till then: “Aw farr Chys sak, ged ‘im aff the feel an brang in hiz sab!”





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