While the main lady is out and about getting things done in Laredo, I was given the opportunity, nay the honor, to serve as her two day blogging mercenary. And while most blog hosts would shudder giving me access to their blog platforms with administrative privileges, I promised Que Fregados it would not be so bad.
After all, I had a few post ideas that kind of coincided with the gist of her blog. Well, sort of.
One of them deals with little league baseball in the Bordertown.
The newspapers and the blog platforms all pay heed to the success of high school teams, particularly those from the North Side schools who have done reasonably well in the U.I.L. playoffs these last few years (UHS and AHS). The infatuation with Laredo baseball players continues with the college players and how well they do at the next level. (Nevermind the ladies who pay attention to one-time major league players in Laredo for aesthetic reasons.)
But, Little League–where theoretically, it all begins–never really gets its due beyond the once a year photo collage printed in the local paper. I should know, I was once featured in those photo exposés. If a team does well, it might get a few seconds on Pro 8 News, too. For the most part, however, Little Leaguers play in relative obscurity beyond the attention given by parents and relatives.
I recently caught a game featuring two teams from the Rio Grande Little League, whose new home astride Zacate Creek is a far better improvement than its old haunt in the Colonia Guadalupe many years back.
I wish I could tell you the names of the two teams, but I really don’t remember. I wish I could at least tell you I paid attention to the score, but I truly didn’t. Instead, I went just to see if the nerves and the apprehension were still palpable in the Little League I used to know.
And from my perspective, the nerves and the anxiety are clearly there.
However, it’s not quite that simple; rather, the experience is one that is pretty complex from an outsiders’ point of view.
The parents and kids actually began to arrive at around 5:30 p.m. in Eistetter Park for a game that begins at 7:00. Some volunteers go to the small concession stand, which by the way, has so many padlocks, it is both comical and sad at the same time (thank you Laredo vandals). Others go to play catch with the kids, who always remain in a state of flurry throughout the pre-game and in-game activities.
The kids, from what I saw, are really nervous for the most part. Of course you have those few players with ice in their veins, those who could not be frazzled during the most intense of games. But generally speaking, most are a little taken aback.
Once play starts, it is interesting to watch all the other characters go through the motions as well. The older sisters who are forced to watch the games while talking on the phone or texting. The parents who complain about it being inordinately hot (duh) as the sun begins to set in the West and there is no escape in the ever-shrinking shade. Naturally, you have the dads (and some moms) who take this way too seriously, yelling both encouragement and derisive comments towards the umpires.
In other words: timeless.
The kids that I saw play were those from the traditionally poorest of the Little League organizations in Laredo, the Rio Grande Little League. They don’t have the fancy websites (Northside) or the private coaches (Del Mar). For the most part, they do not attend the annual baseball camps, which could run in the hundreds of dollars for each boy like their northside counterparts. They do have the desire to play, though. And, that, I believe, is the most important thing.
So, as I saw balls bounce off gloves and between outstretched legs, I kept thinking about those inherent advantages that some teams have over others. But it didn’t seem to matter to the players on the field. In a way, that’s all that counts.
The Little League season is almost over (in the next few weeks) from what I saw and what I gathered, attendance is pretty slight in this league (if you look at the stands in the picture above, you know that many parents are absent from the game). I would assume its slight elsewhere, too. You may want to try to catch a game just for the fun of it. Oh, I’m sure it doesn’t matter whether or not you have a relative or a neighbor’s friend playing, just go. Buy a few overpriced sodas, too, while you’re at it. Just be sure to cheer. The players will appreciate it.