Australian and English cricketers will put their fierce rivalry aside on Wednesday to raise funds for the victims of the devastating floods in Queensland.
The biggest floods in a century have killed 14 people since starting in the northern state last month and on Wednesday water had started to
inundate Brisbane, where the Ashes series began in late November.
Among other fund-raising initiatives, England and Australia players will solicit donations from the crowd at the Adelaide Oval on Wednesday night during the first of a series of limited over matches that follow the Test series.
“It is important that we do something, those people need as much help as possible. It’s a terrible time and each day it seems to get worse and worse,” said England’s Graeme Swann.
Batsman Kevin Pietersen had already announced on social media site Twitter that he would auction off one of the shirts he wore in England’s Ashes triumph, a bat and two tickets to a one-day international to raise funds.
Australian rules football governing body, the AFL, and 18 teams have pledged $500,000 to the relief fund, while the Brisbane Broncos rugby league donated $25,000 and helped raise more through their players at a nationally televised telethon.
Australia soccer international Tim Cahill gestured as if making a phone call after scoring the second of his two goals in Australia’s 4-0 Asian Cup victory over India on Monday to advertise a prize he was offering for the telethon.
“I showed the gesture because I want people to call in on the telethon, donate money and bid on my auction,” he said in Doha.
“This is football but there’s a lot more that’s going on in the world, and to help people and families that are struggling is my way of showing that I care.”
Bidding for the prize of two flights from anywhere in the world to watch a match at Cahill’s English club Everton with dinner and signed boots and shirt has raised more than $10,000.
American tennis player Andy Roddick pledged $100 for every ace he served at the Brisbane International last week, doubling the tally to $10,800 after losing the final to Robin Soderling.
Local grand slam hopeful Sam Stosur offered the same and the ATP and WTA professional tours expect to donate $40,000 with their pledge of $100 for every ace over three tournaments, including next week’s Australian Open.
The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) pitched in with a donation of $50,000, while players from the Queensland Reds Super rugby team have also made their own personal contributions.
“I congratulate Wallabies and Queensland Reds players Anthony and Saia Faingaa, who have announced they will donate their first Super Rugby game match payments to the flood relief appeal,” said ARU chief John O’Neill.
Staff were evacuated on Tuesday from Brisbane’s Gabba cricket ground, while the city’s Suncorp football Stadium is already under water, local media reported.
The Wimbledon champion stepped on glass and didn’t play another match the rest of the year. The youngest of the WTA’s Grand Slam champs was an “unretired” mother and wife. Serbia won the Davis Cup. Two retired legends, both known for their dignity, trashed each other … at a charity event. The U.S. Open men’s final nearly played out on three different American television networks. James Blake and commentator Pam Shriver debated each other DURING a match. This was the same week another Wimbledon encounter finished 70-68 in the fifth set.
Otherwise, it was standard year in tennis. Serena Williams won her two majors. Kim Clijsters bagged another Slam. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal divvied up the four on the men’s side. The Bryan brothers set the all-time record for doubles titles. The sport continued to expand globally, land a few sponsors and, as ever, succeed in spite of itself. So it goes.
Because “tennis offseason” might be the biggest oxymoron this side of “team of mavericks” — apparently the offseason falls on a Tuesday this year — we only have a few hours to squeeze in this 2010 awards show. First the cut and paste from years past: before dispensing gifts to our winners, a detour into sappiness. If you get half as much pleasure (guilty to be sure) from reading this column as I get from writing it, we’re all doing pretty well. Your questions and observations are, reliably, thoughtful and informed and passionate, and please know that every last one — even the ones wishing me incurable athlete’s foot — are read. Think of this as a sincere invitation to belly up to the bar in ’11 and we’ll do it again. Maybe even with podcasts thrown in for variety.
So the votes have been certified by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Jack Valenti. The envelopes please …
Player of the Year, Men
When Rafael Nadal retired midway through an Australian Open match — an Australian Open match he was losing decisively — there was an sinking sense that his knees were mounting a full insurrection and his potential would never be realized. Thanks to rest, the miracle of blood-spinning, and perhaps some simple, inexplicable good fortune, he healed. And didn’t lose another Grand Slam match. No need to check surreptitiously with Uncle Toni. The 2010 MVP is Nadal. There’s no other credible candidate.
Player of the Year, Women
We can have a debate here. But, rankings be damned, you must have won at least one major to qualify, which eliminates top-ranked Caroline Woznaicki. Serena Williams won two of the four big prizes, but she only played in three other WTA events. We’ll cast our vote for Kim Clijsters, who won the U.S. Open, the year-end clambake in Doha and gets bonus points for her ambassadorial disposition.
Most Improved, Men
Ernests Gulbis struggled through a miserable 2009, supplementing a string of losses with an embarrassing legal situation. (Fire up “the Google,” if you must.) In 2010, he resumed his ascent up the charts, winning early and often and cracking the top 25.
Most Improved, Women
If former champion flameouts ever decided to form their own union, Ana Ivanovic looked like a potential general secretary. The former No. 1 began the year outside the top 50 and struggled simply to win matches. And then suddenly, she looked like a top player, again, cruising through the late summer and fall, winning a title and getting back to within a grunting earshot of where she once belonged.
Comeback Player of the Year, Men
Unfortunately for Mardy Fish, his physical health has never kept pace with his talent. Late in his career — married and closing in on age 30 — he’s embraced fitness and nutrition and his body has repaid him accordingly. After missing much of 2009 with a variety of owies, Fish played a full season in 2010 and finished in the top 20.
Comeback Player of the Year, Women
Technically she returned in 2009, but we can’t vote for anyone other than Kimiko Date Krumm. A top player in the mid-’90s, she took more than a decade off. In 2010, the year she turned 40, she beat a welter of top players, finished in the 50 and provided one of the brighter storylines for the WTA.
Newcomer of the Year, Men
It’s always hard to draw lines of demarcation here, as there aren’t true “rookie seasons” in tennis. But we’ll cast a vote here for Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania, the youngest player in the top100.
Newcomer of the Year, Women
This category is bit shaky, but we’ll go with Petra Kvitova. A long, tall Czech who reached the Wimbledon semis and cracked the top 35.
Doubles team of the Year, Men
Much as we’d like to tip the Indo-Pak Express — a tidy snapshot of all that’s right about tennis — the Mike and Bob Bryan take the prize again. It’s troubling to consider the fate of doubles once these guys retire. But for now, be thankful for their dual presence.
Doubles team of the Year, Women
With the Baldwin-Bassinger-like break-up of Cara Black and Liezel Huber, the category is suddenly wide open. Yaroslava Shvedova and Vania King won two titles in 2010: Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Coach of the Year, Men
Forever known as “Uncle Toni,” Toni Nadal is becoming the John Wooden of tennis. Thanks to the exploits of his nephew, he added another three Slams to his resume. Now, if only he’d limit his coaching to times outside the match. Choice 1A might be Paul Annacone. Chart Roger Federer’s year on a graph. Note when he hired Annacone. Draw your own conclusions.
Coach of the Year, Women
Vera Zvonareva is undeniably talented. She is also undeniably — how to put this? — combustible. Though Zvonareva herself deserves most of the credit, her coach Sergey Demekhine played a role in making sure her skills trumped her emotion. Today, Zvonareva is ranked second in the world, a finalist at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. (He gets bonus points for having previously been an Abercrombie Fitch model.)
Match of the Year, Men
Let’s just retire this category. Isner def. Mahut, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68 at Wimbledon. From the time it started until the time it ended, more than 100 other matches had been completed on the grounds, one U.S. general had been fired, six teams had been eliminated from World Cup and Australia changed leaders.
Match of the Year, Women
No obvious choice, but how about the Australian Open final? Serena Williams, the defending champ, faced her nemesis Justine Henin in the latter’s first Slam since “unretiring.” Serena prevailed in three sets, but it offered a tantalizing glimpse of what could be the next stage in the rivalry.
Highlight of the Year, Men
A real highlight of the event was the success of the Indo-Pak Express, Aisam Qureshi and Rohan Bopanna, a Pakistani and an Indian, who reached the doubles final at the U.S. Open and brought all sorts of attention to their agenda of peace. If you want to contribute, check out http://indopakexpress.com/.
Highlight of the Year, Women
For all the choke jobs we’ve seen in big events, Francesca Schiavone took a novel to appearing her first major final a few weeks from turning 30. Instead of feeling freighted with pressure, she simply made the decision to enjoy the occasion and swing with abandon. The result? A Grand Slam title.
Disappointment of the Year, Men
Juan Martin del Potro won the final major of 2009. Belting winners with hard, flat strokes, he looked like a contender to break the Federer-Nadal oligopoly. Thanks mostly to a wrist injury, he was a nonfactor in 2010. (Runner-up: Marin Cilic; second runner-up, Grigor Dmitrov, whose results were uneven before this.)
Disappointment of the Year, Women
We probably pick on her too much. But Dinara Safina was the world’s top-ranked player 15 months ago. Today, wracked by a back injury, she is ranked No. 63, having failed to win a solitary title in 2010.
Edward R. Murrow award for journalistic excellence
This guy. This isn’t cheering in the press box. It’s slobbering.
Fashion Statement of the Year
That is the ultimate representation of paternal pride.
Shot of the Year
Keep your tweener. We’ll take this gem from Victor Hanescu:
Cheap shot of the Year
So long, farewell
Carlos Moya, Ai Sugiyama, Elena Dementieva, Martin Damm, Guillermo Canas, Taylor Dent, Sebastien Grosjean, Dominik Hrbaty, Alberto Martin, Mariano Puerta, Paradorn Srichaphan, Peter Wessels, Mariano Zabaleta, Shenay Perry, Virginia Ruano Pascual, Mary Carillo on ESPN, tennis in New Haven, the Dusseldorf World Team Cup.
And with a nod to Esquire’s Dubious Achievement Awards:
For real”!©? C’Mon, you’re kidding.
Litigious Lleyton Hewitt is embroiled in a court battle over trademark rights for the catch phrase: “C’mon!”
“We settled on Klassy.”
In anticipation of their third child, Hewitt and his wife Bec, enabled fans to find out the name of the child via text message — for $2.
Hate for Hittee
During the philanthropic “Hit for Haiti” event, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi renewed their rivalry with one of the most excruciatingly uncomfortable exchanges outside of reality television.
There was this one time at band camp …
After meeting the Queen of England, Andy Roddick tweeted: “She said she loved me in the American Pie movies.”
They’ll be here all fortnight and please remember that tips aren’t included in the two-drink minimum.
Quipped Roger Federer on meeting the Queen: “She said I should hit more backhands down the line.”
As long as it’s not on parents’ shirts …
During a postmatch interview at the U.S. Open, Brad Gilbert asked Novak Djokovic: “Do you have that tweener shot between your legs?” Djokovic’s response: “I have something else between my legs.”
Grist for the Mille
Weeks after sporting a $525,000 Richrd Mille watch — an endorsement at odds with his Everyman m.o. — Rafael Nadal lost the timepiece at the Toronto ATP event.
And why are there no Fruit Roll-ups or juice boxes in the players lounge?
After losing to Marin Cilic in the Australian, Bernard Tomic, 17, lashed out at organizers claiming that the match’s late starting time kept him up past his bedtime.
A first-round Australian Open match between Donald Young and Christophe Rochus was interrupted when a ballboy wet his pants, soiling the courts.
Or win more often
After winning the Atlanta Championships doubles crown just eight days after his nuptials, former Stanford standout Scott Lipsky remarked, “I should get married more often.”
Who’s the Boss?
Months after signing a lucrative contract with adidas — allegedly £15m over five years — Andy Murray turned up for a photo shoot wearing a distinctive Hugo Boss-branded polo shirt.
How about this: non-Federerian
Robert Dee was unsuccessful in his defamation suit against British papers describing him as the worst professional tennis player in the world. This defeat did not, however, count against his record.
He meant Native American
After Qureshi and Bopanna won their doubles semifinal at the Los Angeles, the emcee offered a disquisition on success of Indians in doubles. Asked to comment, Qureshi responded: “I don’t know, I’m Pakistani.”
That’s Jankovic, with an I
Asked to comment on the game of fellow Serb, Janko Tipsarevic, Jelena Jankovic responded: “Can I please talk about myself?”
On that note, happy holidays and see you in 2011!
Sports Illustrated senior writer Jon Wertheim is co-author of the forthcoming book Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports are Played and Games Are Won now available for pre-order.
Dec. 15, 2010
By Bob Socci
I was in good spirits, feeling proudly patriotic. Philadelphia can do that to you, particularly this time of year.
The night before had revolved around a visit to the National Constitution Center, where we Americans can trace the genealogy of “We the people.” It’s a modern museum dedicated to the birth of our nation, only a few blocks from the hallowed ground beneath the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.
Scores of civilians were gathered there in the company of others in military dress for a gala on the eve of the Army-Navy game. The symbolism of the surroundings was striking.
We were celebrating a 120-year-old saga starring service academy siblings, who, for a single afternoon each December, are bitter rivals. Yet, are bound every other day, defending the country our forefathers – more than 220 years ago, here in the City of Brotherly Love – hoped would become a more perfect union.
The morning after, the scene shifted about four miles away. From grounds once inhabited by a lineup of all-stars like Washington, Jefferson and Franklin to a neighborhood made infamous by the `Broad Street Bullies,’ `Philly Phanatic’ and `700 Level.’
Near the corner of Broad Street and Pattison Avenue in South Philly, an All-America celebration continued. In its own way, it was, as it always is, every bit as iconic as any other symbol or structure.
In the final a.m. minutes, 4,000 or so midshipmen strode confidently into Lincoln Financial Field. Following were the cadets, their steps chopped, their eyes fixed straight ahead with purpose.
Once again, they created the most awesome juxtaposition in sport. One student body massed in a solid navy corner of the stadium in their service dress blues, while their counterparts stand at attention on the field, in their long, perfectly straight gray lines.
Cold as it was in Philadelphia, this sight to behold would have been equally chilling in Phoenix.
By the seventh p.m. hour, the game had gone final and the stadium nearly silent, its seats practically emptied. The 111th edition of Army-Navy, like the previous eight, resulted in victory for the Midshipmen. Six turnovers – four by the Mids – helped keep it competitive, if not crisp.
Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs had dropped to a knee, officially ending the affair, 31-17, at 5:55. The players traded handshakes – especially poignant for the seniors, whose careers as opposites were over, their calling as teammates just beginning – and stood for their alma maters.
West Point’s was heard first. Blue and Gold was played second.
It’s still almost unfathomable. Entering my first Army-Navy broadcast, the Black Knights had won the previous five encounters, by 10 points total. After this most recent, the Midshipmen captured their ninth in a row, by an average margin of 25.3 points per game.
I was happy for the Mids. I felt for the Cadets. They wear different uniforms, but are cut from the same cloth. The love for their country is equal and unequivocal.
A bit later, I sat down to dinner, with one of the original New England patriots, Samuel Adams. Though less famous than cousin, John, Samuel makes for much better company with a plate of scallops.
Behind the bar of the restaurant, a muted television displayed a montage of football highlights. The TV was tuned to ESPN’s coverage of the Heisman Trophy presentation, and clips of Auburn’s Cam Newton were flashing across the flat screen.
That’s when I decided to offer a toast. Not to Newton, or any of the other Heisman candidates, as much as I respect their physical brilliance.
My glass was raised instead for those young men and women, who a couple of hours earlier could be seen on `The Linc’s’ gigantic video boards, and heard singing their alma maters.
Why them? Why wouldn’t I?
Why wouldn’t you?
In New York, Newton was about to be handed what has long been considered the most prestigious individual award in college football. Thanks to a deal that Mississippi State actually did refuse, one can only wonder if he’ll have to give it back someday.
Maybe the Heisman will be Newton’s to keep. Or perhaps it’s only, as with past winner Reggie Bush, a rental, should we ever discover that Can knew that his father, Cecil, was delivering a pay-for-play pitch to the folks in Starkville.
In fairness, Newton was eligible Saturday to be in New York, where he was announced a landslide winner. He’s also expected to be eligible on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz., where his unbeaten Tigers take on the undefeated Oregon Ducks.
They’ll meet in the so-called BCS National Championship for what, without a true playoff, smacks of a mythical title. It should be high scoring, and highly entertaining, unless you fancy a defensive stalemate.
I’m already in suspense wondering what uniform Nike, whose founder is Oregon alum Phil Knight, will conjure up for the Ducks. By the way, is it me or are football teams dressing far too much like James Caan’s Houston club in the movie Rollerball?
Fashion aside, Auburn and Oregon follow a disturbing trend. According to the latest NCAA report on graduation rates, released in late October, the Tigers and Ducks fell below the major-college football average.
Tracking players who entered school in 2003 over a six-year period, Auburn and Oregon graduated, 63 percent and 54 percent, respectively. For the Ducks, that’s an improvement over the 45 percent rate for freshmen in 2002.
As for Newton, his stay on the plains is likely as short-term as one-and-done. After a troubled year at Florida and a championship turnaround in junior college, he’s had a sensational season for the Tigers despite suspicion and scrutiny. Next stop is the NFL.
I don’t blame him. I don’t begrudge him.
I just see him differently than his contemporaries at the academies. To them, college football carries at least a nine-year obligation – 10 if they attend prep school – the last five of which fulfill their commitment to serve.
By next Christmas, while many of the Tigers and Ducks are in `The League,’ many of the Mids and Cadets will be following the NFL from places like the Kandahar and Helmand provinces.
So, I chose to salute them, and everyone else who makes Army-Navy unlike anything else.
Already, I’m counting the days until their 112th meeting, on Dec. 10, 2011. For the first time, the Midshipmen and Black Knights will intersect inside the Capital Beltway.
Much further south of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, they’ll meet to the east of the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument, at FedEx Field in Landover.
I’ll miss Philly for a year. But I’ll savor Army-Navy all the same. I encourage you join me.
Perhaps I’ll even convince Mr. Adams to come too.
CARACAS, Venezuela — When Caracas’ Gregor Blanco hit a game-tying, ninth-inning, two-out home run off Francisco Rodriguez in Game 4 of last season’s Venezuelan baseball finals, Blanco gestured toward the Magallanes dugout as he rounded the bases. After Blanco arrived at home plate, catcher Robinson Chirinos got in Blanco’s face.
It wasn’t just that the benches emptied. National police, armed with machine guns, came on the field. Attack dogs began barking. Fans reached through the screen behind home plate to try to punch Magallanes security men.
“It,” Magallanes pitcher Eric Junge recalled as he described the scene, “was awesome.”
Welcome to Magallanes-Caracas, the greatest rivalry in sports.
They don’t measure up to the Navagantes and the Leones, the two most popular and historically successful teams in Venezuela.
“It’s special, man,” said Andrés Galarraga, the five-time major-league All-Star and 13-year star for Caracas.
“No matter how good Caracas is doing or Magallanes is doing, as soon as they play against each other, oh my God, it’s like the World Series.”
Said former Yankees pitcher Chad Gaudin, who played for Magallanes in 2005-06, “It’s bigger than Boston and the Yankees. It’s that much. It’s that loud, that intensity.”
Imagine the passed-down hatred of Red Sox-Yankees, plus the shared birthplace of Dodgers-Giants, plus the evenly split crowd and alcohol-fueled noise of Florida-Georgia (at least, when it was the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party), plus the tight quarters and rabid fans of a Duke-North Carolina game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, plus the season-defining possibilities of Alabama-Auburn or Michigan-Ohio State, plus the championship legacies of Celtics-Lakers.
Then, most importantly, add a Latin passion not found in any U.S. venue.
Said Junge: “I’m being serious: this is the best game in baseball. Maybe you can argue Boston-New York, but (in Magallanes-Caracas) they want to kill each other. It’s intense. It’s awesome.”
Los Eternos Rivales have been playing each other since before Venezuela had a professional league.
“I’m being serious: this is the best game in baseball. Maybe you can argue Boston-New York, but (in Magallanes-Caracas) they want to kill each other. It’s intense. It’s awesome.”
– Pitcher Eric Junge The Navagantes del Magallanes — navigators of Magellan, for the 16th-century Portugese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, the first to sail around South America from the Atlantic to the Pacific — were founded in Caracas in 1917 as an amateur team.
Their archrivals were the Royal Criollos, the “royal natives.” In 1946, that team took the name of the brewery that purchased it, Cervecería Caracas. The brewery sold the team in 1952, and it was renamed the Leones (lions).
According to Rubén Mijares — a longtime journalist, Venezuelan baseball historian and former general manager of Magallanes — the (perhaps apocryphal) reason behind the sale of the team was that the half of the country that rooted for Magallanes refused to drink the beer, and that was hurting business.
The professional league started in 1946 with four teams. Caracas and Magallanes shared Estadio Universitario in Caracas until the 1969-70 season, when Magallanes moved to Valencia, about 70 miles West.
“Magallanes is loved like the old Cowboys used to be loved, as far as ‘America’s Team,’ ” he said. “Magallanes is kind of Venezuela’s team. And Caracas is a close second.”
So while Caracas actually has two teams closer geographically — Tigres de Aragua (in Maracay) and Tiburones de La Guaria (the Sharks, who share the stadium in Caracas) — Magallanes is definitely its top rival.
“You poll 100 people on the street,” Rodriguez said, “and you ask, ‘What team do you root for?’ I would say, 50 say Caracas and 50 say Magallanes. Anywhere.”
And as the most popular teams, Caracas and Magallanes have the deepest pockets and can afford the most stars, including imports.
In the mid-1970s, Jim Rice, Dave Parker, Don Baylor and Mitchell Page played for Magallanes’ “black power” teams. The 1964-65 Caracas team featured Ken Harrelson, Vic Davalillo, Cesar Tovar and Pete Rose.
Caracas has won 17 league titles and Magallanes 10. The other franchises have combined for 35. One study showed 40 percent of Venezuelan fans support Magallanes and 32 percent are for Caracas. That leaves 28 percent for the other six clubs.
“You could go 0-5 during the week against everybody else,” said Indians manager Manny Acta, a Dominican who managed Caracas in 2000-01, “but if you beat Caracas or you beat Magallanes, the fans are happy. Because they know that the bragging rights are there.
“It’s a big game. Those games are circled on the calendar. It’s two seasons over there. It’s Caracas-Magallanes and then the rest of the games.”
FanHouse’s Ed Price discusses the passion, power and noise of Magallanes-Caracas.
Phil Regan, the former big-league pitcher, pitching coach and manager, has managed both Caracas and Magallanes, among other Venezuelan teams. He was fired as La Guaria manager earlier this season and was ready to return to the U.S. when Magallanes approached him to be its pitching coach.
His first game back in a Navegantes uniform was against the Leones.
“When you’re with another club,” Regan said, “you really long for that rivalry.”
Last month, a night before hosting Caracas, Magallanes played the Bravos de Margarita. The bleachers were virtually empty, the grandstand about three-quarters full.
The next night, people were shoulder-to-shoulder in every row of the bleachers, or gradas. Thanks to counterfeit tickets and other crashers, Estadio José Bernardo Pérez was packed beyond its listed capacity of 14,850.
“Every time Caracas and Magallanes play, the whole country’s paralyzed,” Santana said. “Everybody wants to watch what’s going on.”
Said Al Pedrique, the Astros bench coach who has played and managed for Magallanes: “You can feel it from 9 o’clock in the morning, when people come to get tickets. And by 10 o’clock they’re all gone. … You’re walking down the street and people say to you, ‘You’ve got to beat Caracas tonight. If you lose you’re going to get fired.’”
Navegantes del Magallanes
Leones del Caracas
Estadio José Bernardo Pérez
1950-51, ’55, ’70, ’77, ’79, ’94, ’96-97, 2002
1953, ’57, ’62, ’64, ’67-68, ’73, ’78, ’80-82, ’87-88, ’90, ’95, 2006, ’10
Edgardo Alfonzo, Richard Hidalgo, Carlos Guillen, Freddy Garcia, Pablo Sandoval, Elvis Andrus
Famous Venezuelan Alums
Chico Carrasquel, Vic Davalillo, Tony Armas, Andres Galarraga, Omar Vizquel, Bobby Abreu
Peter Greenberg, a New York-based agent who represents a number of Venezuelans (including Santana), said he always tries to see at least one Magallanes-Caracas game whenever he travels to Venezuela. And no matter how many clients he has on both teams, if he doesn’t request tickets well in advance, even the players can’t help him get a seat.
Tickets in the gradas (literally, the terraces) for a Magallanes home game cost 30 Bolivars — $7 at the official exchange rate and $4 at the black-market rate. Factor in beer, food and transportation, and considering that the minimum wage is 1,200 Bolivars ($280) a month, it’s no wonder that many fans save their money and go to the park only to see Magallanes-Caracas.
The ballpark is a good place to forget, for a while, about how tough things have become under the regime of Hugo Chávez (although when outfielder Endy Chávez comes up for Magallanes, fans chant, “Endy, si! Chávez, no!”).
“Venezuelans eat, sleep and breathe baseball,” Gaudin said.
Playing in Caracas turns up the intensity another notch, with larger crowds that are more evenly divided between Leones and Navegantes fans. And because 11,000 of the 20,723 seats at Estadio Universitario are in the bleachers, there’s a higher percentage of rabid fans. (Imagine what 27,000 “bleacher creatures” at Yankee Stadium could do for the intensity level in the Bronx.)
There’s also the frequent playing of a lion’s roar at high volume over the P.A. Pedrique said the first time Jeff Tam — the former big-league right-hander who pitched for Magallanes — heard the roar in 1996, he hit the deck and yelled, “Oh (expletive), what’s that?”
Before one Magallanes game at Caracas this season, scalpers were getting 700 Bolivars for the best seats (face value 170 Bolivars) and 150 Bolivars for the bleachers (face value 25 Bolivars). Announced attendance was 20,696, and those who couldn’t get in lingered in the plaza outside the park, where an impromptu food court and souvenir mall had popped up. In addition to the usual stadium security, there were 55 policemen inside the park and 100 outside.
“There’s a different intensity,” Regan said, “because the fans are different. The fans are pretty — pretty fanatical.”
After all, the Spanish word for fan is fanático.
Samba Bands and Flying Beer
More than anything, a Magallanes-Caracas game — especially in Caracas — is LOUD.
“You can imagine filing 20,000 people into a stadium and it sounds like 500,000,” said Mets catcher Josh Thole, who played for Caracas in 2009-10. “So loud. Nine straight innings, it doesn’t matter who’s winning, who’s losing. People playing horns, samba bands, people marching around the stands with flags.”
It’s the kind of noise level — so loud that individual cheers are indistinguishable and it becomes one blast — that appears in a major-league park only in the postseason, if at all. A regular-season Magallanes at Caracas game produces a decibel level that hasn’t been heard in a big-league park since, perhaps, Yankee Stadium shook after Scott Brosius‘ ninth-inning homer in Game 5 of the 2001 World Series.
“We don’t have the 40, 50 thousand fans (in Venezuela) we have (in New York),” Rodriguez said. “But those 15, 20 (thousand), they make more noise.”
Because both teams have a national following, every time they play, the fans are split. And that means no matter what happens, a sizable portion of the crowd cheers.
“The fans make the rivalry,” said Edgardo Alfonzo, the former big-leaguer in his 15th season with Magallanes. “They really push you.
“First pitch to last pitch, no matter what the score is, they will cheer.”
As in the U.S., there is prompting via the public-address system or video board. But for the most part, it’s not necessary.
“People here have a really good understanding of the game, situations and everything,” said Josh Kroeger, who has played in the Diamondbacks, Phillies, Cubs and White Sox systems and stars for Caracas in the winters.
“Just to see the people there, they’re so intense and so into the game,” Gaudin said. “Every single person is watching the game. Nobody’s going to get popcorn.”
Pulling for a result, fans will chant, “Jon-ron!” (home run) or “Pon-che!” (strikeout) for an entire at-bat.
Ever hear that in the U.S.?
“It’s a different atmosphere. I think everybody who comes to the game is prepared to get soaked with beer and embrace the environment.”
– Indians manager Manny Acta “We love it,” Rodriguez said, “because the fans get into it.”
Big plays are celebrated by flinging beer cups, and not empty ones.
“It’s a different atmosphere,” Acta said. “I think everybody who comes to the game is prepared to get soaked with beer and embrace the environment.”
As the game reaches the later innings, large chunks of empty seats appear in the middle rows of the bleachers; fans move higher or lower to avoid being doused in beer (or, worse, urine).
When the final out is made, the bleacherites sprint to the exits, to avoid that final downpour from the upper rows.
A Passion for Baseball
Alcohol isn’t just thrown; it’s consumed, too. Whiskey, as well as beer, is sold by vendors in the stands.
Add in the salsa music, the Thunderstix, the waving flags, and “it’s a big party for the fans,” as Endy Chávez said.
Sometimes an out-of-control one, the tales say, with fires lit in the stands or brawls between opposing fans.
“It was worse,” said Damaso Blanco, the Giants infielder of the 1970s who broadcasts Magallanes games. “Nowadays the people act better.”
In his four years with Boston, Tony Armas played in 49 Red Sox-Yankees games. Now the hitting coach for Carcacas, he said, “Over here it’s different, because they go crazy when these two teams play.”
How crazy can it get? Junge said he has been sworn at by 7-year-olds.
“They say anything to a player,” said Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who played for Magallanes. “When you do bad, you do well, they yell at you.”
And at each other.
“I know this for a fact, because I have friends who have done this,” Regan said. “They bring two hats to the ballpark. And if Caracas wins, they put the Caracas hat on. But if Magallanes wins, they put on the Magallanes hat. Because they don’t want the people to get on them so bad.”
Acta recalls when Melvin Mora came to bat for Magallanes in Valencia, the home fans would chant “Mel-vin! Mel-vin!” And if he made an out, the Caracas fans would point to their crotches and chant “Mel-vin! Mel-vin!”
The teams don’t mind tweaking each other, either.
Caracas this season waited until Nov. 23 — the 34th game of a 63-game regular season — to hand out its championship rings from 2009-10. Because that was a home game against Magallanes.
All this could happen only in Latin America, where passion reaches heights unknown up north.
“Partially it’s because it is their national sport, in a way that baseball is not our national sport,” said Milton Jamail, a consultant for the Rays and former University of Texas professor who has written books on baseball in Cuba and Venezuela. “It’s one of our national sports.
“The passion stems from it being part of their national identity. I think it starts there.”
Jamail said 1,000 fans at a game for 14-year-olds in Venezuela are louder than a Double-A crowd in the U.S.
“The passion for anything,” Junge said, “the dancing, the music, the drinking, the women — this country is dialed up.”
A Reason to Play
Junge, a 33-year-old right-hander from Rye, N.Y., by way of Bucknell University, has pitched in the majors with the 2002-03 Phillies, for five other organizations and in Japan and Korea. He came to Venezuela for the first time last winter, and the rivalry got in his blood.
He’s not alone. Sandoval played for Magallanes last winter until the Giants asked him to shut it down partway through the semifinals (a five-team, 16-game round robin after the bottom three of the eight teams are dropped).
In the finals, Magallanes was in position to take a commanding 3-1 before K-Rod’s meltdown. The Navegantes still went home with a 3-2 lead, but when the series went to a deciding seventh game, Sandoval begged the Giants to let him play.
Granted permission, Sandoval flew from the U.S. to Caracas, took a helicopter to Valencia and got a police escort to the stadium in time to bat third for the Navegantes.
“You want to play for one of those teams,” Sandoval said last summer. “Nothing like those two teams.”
Sandoval went 1-for-4 as Magallanes lost the game, and, for the first time in three finals meetings with Caracas, the series.
The drama of that series dialed up the rivalry even further, especially among players.
“It’s the only reason I came down here,” Junge said. “I wanted to come back. I wanted to beat them. I don’t like them.”
Others wanted to come back too. Bobby Abreu, who last played for Caracas in 2004-05 (except for one game in ’08), wanted to play this winter but was told not to by the Angels. Mora was rumored to want to re-join Magallanes after a five-year absence, although the team apparently didn’t meet his financial demands.
Another rumor held that Rodriguez got permission from the Mets to play in last year’s playoffs by offering to pay his own insurance premium.
Caracas manager Dave Hudgens, who was just hired as the Mets hitting coach, said when veteran players join the team midseason, they always try to make their debut in the rivalry.
“The players, they all want to play that day (of Magallanes-Caracas),” Pedrique said. “If they’re not playing, they mope. They complain. You can see some of the guys go will through the motions in (batting practice). I’d say, ‘Fellas, you never know, I might need you in the fifth, sixth inning, the seventh inning. You never know.’ (They’d say,) ‘How can you bench me? I’ve got to play. It’s Caracas.’ They don’t like that at all.”
’200 Percent Rush of Adrenaline’
During the World Series, Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus said playing for Magallanes against Caracas “was a big key to me, for me being here in the postseason and the World Series.”
Hudgens said there is “more pressure” in a regular-season Magallanes-Caracas game than in a major-league postseason game.
“Every game is like a playoff game,” Hudgens said. “That’s how important it is to the players and the people.”
Anything else practically feels like a scrimmage once you have played in Magallanes-Caracas.
“It’s like a Game 7, all the time,” said Boston’s Marco Scutaro, who has played six seasons for Caracas.
“You can lose against the other teams, get beat — no big deal,” Pedrique said. “If you beat Caracas, you won the World Series. (As the manager, I would think,) ‘It’s only one game. We’ve still got to win the others.’ But for the Magallanes people to lose to Caracas, they hate it. And vice versa.”
Rodriguez normally pitches for La Guaria. But he has been borrowed for the postseason by Caracas (2005 and ’06) and Magallanes (2010).
“It’s intense,” he said of Magallanes-Caracas. “A 200 percent rush of adrenaline.
“The pressure. As a young guy, if you play in a type of game like that, and you perform the way you’re supposed to and you handle the pressure, (when) you come in to the big leagues, it’s like you’re playing a regular game. I don’t think the pressure’s going to bother you at all.”
Rodriguez, a rookie hero in the 2002 postseason, said the pressure of Magallanes-Caracas is close to that of the World Series, “and you know how important the World Series is.”
Acta called Magallanes-Caracas “a must-see event.”
Said Acta: “I know Red Sox and Yankees is a great event over here, but I think the only advantage over a Caracas-Magallanes game is the amount of people. But the energy and stuff, it’s even greater over there. Even if you only have 20-25,000 people. It’s something I couldn’t even describe to my friends. I told them you need to take a flight over here and see it.”
Even jaded ballplayers can feel it.
“I’ve had players come down here and play in these games,” Regan said, “and they’ve said, ‘You know, all of a sudden baseball’s fun again, playing in these games.’”
Editor’s Note: This is the first of a five-part series previewing the local high school wrestling season. In the coming days, the Reporter will also have previews on Kent-Meridian, Kentlake, Kentridge and Kentwood.
SPSL NORTH WRESTLING: AT A GLANCE
• FAVORITE: Auburn.
• CONTENDER: Tahoma.
• ON THE RISE: Kentridge, Kentwood, Kentlake, Kent-Meridian.
• LEAGUE OUTLOOK: It isn’t likely that anybody catches Auburn this season. The tradition-rich Trojans are relatively stacked with returning state champion Dylan Rutledge (189) and powerful heavyweights Nick Conlan (second at state in ‘10) and Danny Shelton (sixth). Throw in Willie Pineda (135 pounds) and Adam Garcia (152 pounds) and the Trojans have more ranked wrestlers than any team in the North. Auburn hasn’t won the SPSL North since 2006. Expect Tahoma, which has won the last two league titles, to give Auburn a slight run. Like Auburn, the Bears have plenty of tradition and seldom rebuild, but instead reload. Tahoma will have a tough time filling the holes left by graduation as Tyler Lamb, Nick Bayer and Konner Knudtsen all have moved on. Regardless, the Bears still return state champion Steven Hopkins (119) and Mat Classic participants Dan Haniger (145) and Tanner Mjelde (140), so the cupboard is hardly empty. Kentwood, which won the North in 2008, isn’t as deep as Tahoma or Auburn, but still packs a punch, particularly with star Ruben Navejas back in fold. Navejas is a three-time state placer and will bump up to 112 this season. Joining Navejas among state veterans will be Hayden Peterson (119) and Jose Hernandez (125). Meanwhile, expect James Hatfield (189), Daniel Park (215/285) and Lucas Kelly (171) to make considerable impacts. Kent-Meridian also felt the impact of graduation, losing Nick Lemmon, Jesus Valdez, Thomas Reinhart and Andrew Smith. However, with state-tested veterans Luke Barzie (189) and Jean-Claude Atkinson (285) back on the mat along with Joshua Smith (140) and Thomas Kemp (160), the Royals should remain a threat. Kentlake didn’t win a league dual last season, but certainly should make itself felt this winter with state competitors Sean Farr (125), Colton Marlowe (130) and Samir Faizoullin (135/140) back on the mat. All three have a strong chance of placing top eight at state in February. The biggest jump among any SPSL North team, however, could come from Kentridge, which has more wrestlers out than in previous years, led by state participant Jeff Seid (171) and Nick Aliment (125), who took eighth at state two years ago. Also, expect Billy Johnson (130/135), who took fourth in league last winter, to make a strong step up.
• GIRLS ON THE MAT: The number of girls competing on the SPSL North mat remains a bit lean this winter, though Kentwood’s Cassidy Meyers (119), who took sixth at state last year, could challenge for a state crown. Meyers will be joined by Sophia Choi (103), who competed at state last season, but did not place. Elizabeth Stone, a two-time state qualifier, and Jacklyn Nagy (171) also have returned for Kent-Meridian and could find themselves at the Tacoma Dome once again. Seven Royals will be taking the mat this winter, more than any other team in the North.
• NORTH WRESTLERS ON COLLEGE MAT: Jake Swartz (Auburn/Boise State/184 pounds); Kurt Swartz (Auburn/Boise State/165); Michael Mangrum (Auburn Riverside/Oregon State/141); Shane Onufer (Auburn/Wyoming/174); Eric Jones (Auburn Riverside/Highline CC/157); Kevin Tao (Tahoma/Columbia University/125); Nick Bayer (Tahoma, Northern Colorado/197); Konner Knudtsen (Tahoma/Northern Colorado/285); Thomas Reinhart (Kent-Meridian/Highline CC/174).
• BOOKMARK ON THE WEB: There is no better wrestling web site than www.washingtonwrestlingreport.com. There isn’t a prep sport around that has a better, more thorough and comprehensive place to turn. Wrestling enthusiasts receive rankings for every weight class and school classification in the state. Results of tournaments from around the state — and, in many cases, around the Northwest — can be found as well.
WRESTLERS TO WATCH
Ruben Navejas Senior Kentwood 112
Notable: First in 2009, second in 2010; Enters season with 119-7 overall mark.
Dylan Rutledge Senior Auburn 189
Notable: Defending state champ at 171 posted 39-1 mark last year.
Steven Hopkins Junior Tahoma 119
Notable: Lanky mat technician won 103-pound title last year.
Jeff Seid Junior Kentridge 171
Notable: Physical Charger came into his own last year, earning state berth.
Colton Marlowe Junior Kentlake 119
Notable: Lightweight emerged last year as one of area’s best.
Luke Barzie Senior Kent-Meridian 189
Notable: Wiry, strong Royal posted 30-10 mark and qualified for state.
Nick Conlan Senior Auburn 285
Notable: Muscled way through perfect regular season, finished 27-2 overall.
Hayden Peterson Senior Kentwood 119
Notable: Got stronger as season wore on last year, posting 29-13 record.
Nick Aliment Senior Kentridge 125
Notable: Took eighth at state in 2009, just missed cut last season.
Sean Farr Junior Kentlake 119/125
Notable:Dominated Decatur Invitational last weekend, winning the 130-pound title with ease.
Samir Faizoullin Junior Kentlake 135/140
Notable: Another one of the Falcons’ deep and talented wrestlers of the junior class. Look out.
Cassidy Meyers Soph. Kentwood 119
Notable: Area’s top-returning female wrestler took sixth at state last season.
CIRCLE ON THE CALENDAR
Auburn at Tahoma, Jan. 5, 7:30 p.m.: Of all the meets to be at this season, this is the one. Tahoma has won the last two league titles, but Auburn entered the season as the heavy favorite. Expect a packed house for a meet between two of the richest programs in the state.
Kentwood at Kentlake, Jan. 13, 7:30 p.m.: The Cov-Town Throwdown. Plenty of talent on hand for this rivalry.
SPSL All-Division Championships at Auburn High, Dec. 29-30: This is the first year of the tournament, which could blossom into one of the Northwest’s finest showcases of the sport. Every team from the SPSL (Class 2A, 3A, 4A) both girls and boys, junior varsity and varsity will be on hand. More than worth the price of admission.
SPSL Sub-Regional, Feb. 4-5, Auburn High: This event will showcase all the top wrestlers from the SPSL North.
State tournament, Feb. 18-19, Tacoma Dome: The top tournament of the year with championships slated for 5-9 p.m.
Kent Reporter Sports reporter Erick Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article source: http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/south_king/ken/sports/111955599.html
The wrestlers from School of the Osage scored a victory of historic proportions and fueled what is growing into a Lake of the Ozarks rivalry on the mats. In the third year of high school wrestling at Osage, the Indians defeated Camdenton 46-30 in a dual.
“Our kids came out tonight and that was one they really wanted. We went after them,” Osage coach Randy Saterlee said. “That was big for us. We’ve been looking at (Camdenton) this year and they run a quality program. We think any time we can put points up on them we’re doing good.”
Camdenton shuffled its lineup for Osage, moving five of its lighter wrestlers up weight classes in a move that Lakers coach Patrick Darby said was matchup based. The move worked for the most part in Camdenton’s favor, with Dillon Briscoe (103), Anthony Franicevich (125) and senior Michael McDonald (130) picking up wins by fall.
Osage’s Skyler Bax (119) and Devon Lake (140) surprised their coaches with wins in the Camdenton dual. Bax pinned Camdenton’s Cody Farrant, who moved up from 112 lbs. Lake scored a push-pull takedown and a half nelson pin over Camdenton’s Jacob Byrne at 140 lbs.
“Those were wins we really weren’t counting on but they came out and pinned kids, and those points really helped,” Satterlee said.
“Osage wanted this. They wanted it bad and they got it. Hats off to them, it’s a really nice story for them to beat us,” Darby said.
Lake’s pin set off an Osage tear through the middleweights that included wins by fall for Sam Golden, Alex Berger and Kyle Christensen.
“We told our kids right up front, ‘Hey, we’ve got to pin and we can’t be pinned,’ and that’s just what they did. They went out and worked hard and got a good win,” Saterlee said.
Camdenton senior Will Corliss stopped the Lakers’ bleeding by scoring a surprise pin on Osage senior T.J. Smith. Smith was coming off of a fourth place finish in the Buffalo Tournament and had Corliss on his back less than a minute in to their match at 189 lbs. Corliss used a bear hug to roll Smith and score a fall at 1:31 into the bout.
“That never say die attitude, that was good stuff. (Corliss) is a definite fighter. We’re real glad that we got him in the lineup,” Darby said.
Ryan Kohout (215) and Christian Williams (285) won matches on points in the two heaviest weight classes. Kohout tied and tripped Colton Rizer in the first period of their match, then scored on a second period reversal. He was able to ride Rizer out for the entire two minutes of the third period to win 4-1. Williams won 9-0 over Kota Jarecki in a battle of small heavyweights.
Both Osage and Camdenton lost duals to Lebanon on Tuesday night to complete the triangular. Christensen, Lake and Golden all went 2-0 on the night for Osage. Briscoe and Franicevich went 2-0 for the Lakers.
“We’ve got to work better. As a team, I’m very impressed with Osage. My gosh, it’s great. I’m very proud of their program. They are a very young program and they are getting it done,” Darby said. “This is why I love the sport of wrestling. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you don’t come with it on that particular night, you can be a state champ against a first-year wrestler and fall on your back and get pinned.”
Camdenton competes this weekend at the Lee’s Summit Invitational. The Indians are scheduled to compete in a Saturday tournament at Warsaw.
Osage 46, Camdenton 30
103–Dillon Briscoe (C) pin Zach Curran (O) 3:14
112–Andrew Raney (C) WBF forfeit
119–Skyler Bax (O) pin Cody Farrant (C) 1:44
125–Anthony Franicevich (C) pin Greg Atkinson (O) 1:15
130–Michael McDonald (C) pin Caden Campbell (O) 4:54
135–Greg Crosby (O) major dec. Justin Rothove (C) 16-7
140–Devon Lake (O) pin Jacob Byrne (C) 1:34
145–Sam Golden (O) pin Raine Prather (C) 3:38
152–Alex Berger (O) pin Josh Sims (C) 1:08
160–Kyle Christensen (O) pin Cody Lewis (C) 1:08
171–Garrett Miller (O) tech. fall Matt Jones (C) 4:00
189–Will Corliss (C) pin T.J. Smith (C) 1:31
215–Ryan Kohout (O) dec. Colton Rizer (C) 4-1
285–Christian Williams (O) dec. Kota Jarecki (C) 9-0
Lebanon 60, Camdenton 14
103–Dillon Briscoe (C) pin Nathan Qualls (L) :35
112–Cody Farrant (C) tech. fall Cody Starnes (L)
119–Anthony Franicevich (C) dec. Dane Bethel (L) 4-3
125–Mason Schneider (L) pin Michael McDonald (C) 3:48
130–Matt Lazo (L) pin Ryan Reitmeyer (C) 4:22
135–Jade Waterman (L) pin Justin Rothove (C) 3:06
140–Chole Rowe (L) dec. Jacob Byrne (C) 4-7
145–Brandon Rich (L) dec. Raine Prather (C) 15-14
152–Aaron Starnes (L) pin Josh Sims (C) 2:43
160–Michael Brawner (L) pin Cody Lewis (C) 1:29
171–Zach Schneider (L) pin Matt Jones (C) :25
189–Austin Beusenhausen (L) pin Will Corliss (C) 3:01
215–Andrew Horsley (L) pin Colton Rizer (C) :31
285–Wyatt Byrd (L) pin Kota Jarecki (C) 3:19
Lebanon 60, Osage 22
103–Zach Curran (O) pin Nathan Qualls (L) :31
112–Cody Starnes (L) WBF forfeit
119–Dane Bethel (L) pin Skyler Bax (O) 1:41
125–Mason Schneider (L) pin Greg Atkinson (O) 1:42
130–Matt Lazo (L) pin Caden Campbell (O) 1:42
135–Jade Waterman (L) pin Greg Crosby (O) :28
140–Devon Lake (O) major dec. Chole Rowe (L) 10-0
145–Sam Golden (O) pin Brandon Rich (L) 3:09
152–Aaron Starnes (L) pin Alex Berger (O) 2:58
160–Kyle Christensen (O) pin Michael Brawner (L) 5:02
171–Zach Schneider (L) WBF forfeit
189–Austin Beusenhausen (L) pin T.J. Smith (O) 1:45
215–Andrew Horsley (L) pin Ryan Kohout (O) 2:37
285–Wyatt Byrd (L) pin Christian Williams (O) 2:10
Five hundred tickets will not meet the demand, but it’s a good start.
That was the general reaction in Seattle to Wednesday’s announcement that 500 tickets will be set aside for traveling fans during 2011 MLS matches between Seattle, Portland and Vancouver.
As anticipation builds for the Cascadia rivalry, many had hoped for more. However, a large majority of fans posting on message boards and fan sites considered it to be a good starting point.
“I would have liked to see more seats allocated for away fans, but 500 is better than 150,” wrote one commenter on the website Prost Amerika, echoing the comments of many Seattle-based supporters on message boards and comment threads.
Optimistically, some fans were hoping 5 percent of each stadium’s capacity — which is the amount recommended by FIFA — to be set aside for away support.
The news, which was announced nearly simultaneously by all three clubs, falls short of that mark, although it should be noted that 500 tickets represents a much larger ratio in Portland’s PGE Park and Vancouver’s temporary Empire Fields than it does in Seattle’s higher-capacity Qwest Field.
“It’s a good start, but shouldn’t be the end goal,” wrote Emerald City Supporters co-president Keith Hodo.
“Eventually we should honor the FIFA guidelines of 5 percent of tickets being allocated to away support,” Hodo’s statement continued. “This is going to be the premier rivalries in MLS and in order to grow the sport in America we need more away supporters at all games.”
It is unclear how each club will distribute these tickets to supporters. According to the statement released by each of the three MLS clubs, detailed operational plans are still being developed.
“We’re committed to working with the front offices of the clubs to ensure that we support and foster this rivalry in the right way,” Hodo wrote. “Eventually these derbies will be the ones that American supporters circle on their calendar. We want to get to the point where supporters from across the nation and the globe will be able to descend on Seattle, Vancouver or Portland and see a truly world-class football atmosphere.”
The 2011 MLS schedule has not yet been announced.