The first thing to say, is that I’m so very glad I did this, both from the perspective of experiencing all of the baseball, but also very much as a (here comes the wank) personal growth thing.
I really didn’t know, starting out, exactly how this was going to go. I don’t speak Spanish – not even enough to really be certain that I had understood the websites I was looking at. And certainly not enough to feel confident that I would be able to express myself well enough for a taxi driver to be able to figure out where I wanted to go.
So really, it took me a long time to plan this trip to an uncomfortably low level of certainty about the outcome. Given my time constraints between leaving Sayulita and needing to be back in Jalisco for the start of my course, I didn’t get the amount of time I usually prefer to spend in one place to find my niche and to be able to have lazy days and downtime if required.
Language didn’t turn out to be the barrier I thought it would be. I rate myself as a confident beginner and it is amazing how far you can get with that low a level of language. It also helps that everyone was so kind and generous with their time while trying to understand me. It was far more generous than the kind of response I would have gotten in Perth, with minimal English.’
The games themselves were largely entertaining, fun baseball to watch. I saw a lot more bunting from the lead-off and second batter than I anticipated, but there was still plenty of athletic, exciting defensive play, big bats and tense pitching duels. Plus all the lovely little mind games being played all over the park which is such a huge part of the appeal of baseball for me.
In the same way that the dedicated fans of MILB teams I’ve met in the USA have a proprietary sense about the players that have passed through their teams, there is that same strong connection with players in the LMP teams. In a couple of the stadiums, I was asked if I had heard of such-and-such a player, who played here x-many years ago. I love that baseball fans are so good at that – still supporting individual players as they get traded and signed and cut and picked up all over the leagues.
And carrying on from that – the crowds really were fantastic at every stadium. Probably the quietest crowd was in Mazatlan, which had the highest proportion of non-locals attending. Going to an LMP game is just like heading out to a party. I never saw any bad behaviour or people behaving like dickheads, or stirring up the fans of the visiting or home team. The only game where I saw the crowd get really shirty with their own players was when Culiacan went down 14-3 to Mexicali. And even then, there was still a lot of late innings cheering when Culiacan managed to put a couple of runs on the board.
This vid is the sound of the crowd in Guasave when their team was down 12-1 at the bottom of the fifth. Yeah. You don’t go home or stop cheering just because your team is having a bad night. Not ever.
Overall, the crowds were fun, NOISY and enthusiastic. The stadiums were elderly, but with the exception of the Guasave Algodoneros estadio, they were all perfectly usable, and even that stadium was fine if you didn’t need to visit the team shop.
In every town I went to, people were amazingly kind to me and went out of their way to help a tongue-twisted foreigner, even when they thought I was an American* If you’re chasing a ballpark/baseball experience, I would definitely recommend this trip. Thus far it is a highlight of being in Mexico.
It’s a completely different experience to going to the Majors or Minors in the USA. The further north you go the more likely there is to be a banda band hired for the day. Nothing can happen without the cheerleading/dancing girls doing the slow banda step and sway (and every set of dancing girls looks like they’re from Dallas for some reason). I was thrilled to see the dizzy bat race get a go at a couple of the stadiums as between innings entertainment and love that I now know the Spanish words to “Take me out to the ballpark”.
The guys running the music and big screen are just as professional as anyplace else and given that most games are aired live in their market,crowds are still solid.
I’ve eaten some interesting looking stuff, but still nothing as horrendous (or thankfully as expensive) as Crackerjacks. I’ve been really sick and I’ve caught a lot of taxis less than a mile due to the lone-female-at-night factor. I’ve gotten to see parts of Mexico that I would otherwise never have gotten to see and I really liked them. If it didn’t get so crazy hot in Sinaloa and Sonora over summer, I would seriously consider staying there.
Overall, highly recommended. If you’re interested in baseball, or just interested in having a reason to get a little off the beaten track in Mexico, a tour of the Liga Mexicana del Pacifico could be well worth your time.
*side note, I had a guy yell at me in Spanish for a good 3 minutes on the Burros left-break, but as soon as he heard that I didn’t have an American accent, he was all sunshine and flowers and very apologetic for being loud and angry.