EL BEISBOL by John Krich


Travels Through the Pan-American Pastiche
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Hit-or-miss recollections of an episodic odyssey through the backwaters of Latin American baseball. Spanish-speaking players have long been mainstays of most major-league clubs, and beisbol skills have traditionally given talented youngsters a ticket out of the economically depressed region. Superfan Krich spent a couple of El Norte's of-seasons in pursuit of their roots south of the border. The author's idiosyncratic journeys took him from Caribbean sandlots and a "Mayan ziggurat" of a stadium outside Baja California's Tijuana to the hemisphere's southernmost diamond, beyond Venezuela's Ciudad Bolivar on the Orinoco River. Along his wayward way, Krich barnstormed through revolutionary Nicaragua with a pickup team called Baseball for Peace. He also made contact with a host of local luminaries, including Roberto Clemente's widow, Vic Power, Joachin Andujar, Juan Marichal, Manny Mota, Ruben Gomez, Cello Guante, Mike Cuellar, et al. The author's overwrought and highly personal reportage can most charitably be described as gonzo journalism. At every stop, he offers simplistic, ultraliberal commentary on the venue's history, e.g., decrying repeated invasions of the Dominican Republic by US Marines (who brought Abner Doubleday's sport with them) or lauding Cuba's Castro for making "admission to baseball games free for the masses." Professions of sympathy for a colonial past do not, however, prevent him from casting casual aspersions on the observed shortcomings of a more independent present. Among other lapses, Krich characterizes guayabera-clad sportswriters in Puerto Rico as looking "like a team of barbers." He even inserts stale jokes mocking the language--most notably, the chestnut about backward natives hearing the first line of the US national anthem as "Jose, can you see. . ." In seeking to celebrate baseball as a tie that binds the Americas, Krich succeeds mainly in patronizing the game and those who play or support it in tropical climes.

ISBN: 87113-303-2
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
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