Tag Archives: players

Players, Personality and Major Fuego for the Game

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“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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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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