|Nicaragua is an exception in Latin America... its national sport #1 is not soccer (futbol)... it's baseball. There are two leagues in Nicaragua, having seasons at different times in the year. Right now, it's the final series (equivalent of the US MLB World Series) of the best league, the professional one. It was a good game, but for me the show was in the stands as much as in the losange.|
I like to try to attend sports and
cultural events along my route, that get a glimpse into the local
culture and the habits of the general population. It's for the same
reasons I went to a corrida and an event
of lucha libre while I
was in Mexico City.
Sign of the Dennis Martinez stadium.
It was even more special because the
game was in the Dennis Martinez national stadium. With a capacity of
25 000, it's the largest in the country. It was named after the
pitcher Dennis Martinez who is viewed as a national hero here. Why?
Many reasons. He was the first from Nicaragua to play in the US major
leagues. As a pitcher, he achieved something very rare... a perfect
game (he did the 13th of the now only 23 perfect games in
all history of US professional baseball – that's more than 300 000
games). In his 23 professional seasons, he won 245 games, more than
any other Latino, and he was also the first Latino to pitch a perfect
game. Being from Montreal, it also had a special meaning to me...
since Dennis Martinez played 8 years for the Montreal Expos. It's
also in this uniform he made his perfect game in 1991. Dennis was
born in the city of Granada, which is my next stop. :-)
It was very hard to follow the game
because of all the noise (unlike in the US where the noise goes down
when the play is on), because of all the people movement (especially
the vendors who offer you anything ranging from food to games) and
the fact there's no giant screen to show you the replay you missed
Food and drinks
The variety of food and beverages is
quite surprising and radically different from my last baseball game
(in San Diego). On the beverage side, you of course have water, soda (but don't
expect anything light, that doesn't exist in Nicaragua, with Coke
Zero being the exception), beer and rum. You can have a glass of
aged rum or regular white rum with a mix (like piña colada). Most
of these beverages come to your seat through roaming vendors.
On the side of the food, there are a
few stars like the giant hot dogs and the bigorón (I'll go more in
details about that one soon in another article, but for now let's say
it's a dish with potato salad and coleslaw). Then there are a few
minor players like Jamaican patties, popcorn, pizza (only ham), nuts
Time well spent
I arrived at the stadium around 9 AM,
the game began at 11 AM and I left the stadium at 3 PM. So, I spent
about 6 hours immersed in the local sports culture. After the game I
went onto the terrain and took some pictures from the home plate.
There are only two sections for tickets... homeplate and field. Most
of the 15 000 or so people there were in the homeplate section where
I was. I was sitting in front of the 3rd base... and I
was surrounded by fans of the visiting team. That yielded a weird
ambiance as I was rooting for the local team, which is the team with
the most successful championship history (much like the Montreal
Canadiens in the world of hockey).
All these hours of entertainment cost
me a total of about US$10. I paid C100 for the entrance ticket (and
got a beer free at the entrance), then I paid C30 for another beer,
twice C25 for water and soda, C30 for a hotdot, C50 for the
birogón... a total of C260 equalling US$10.