By Logan Bawcom
Special to 710Sports.com
Editor's note: Logan Bawcom, 24, is a minor-league pitcher for the Mariners who is traveling abroad to play winter ball for the first time. Follow along as he writes weekly about living and pitching in Venezuela.
Hello to all of your Mariners faithful here reading this blog on winter ball. Or should I say, "Hola fanaticos de los Marineros." I am picking up on the language here as I slowly recall my high school Spanish classes that I semi paid attention in.
I am currently coming to you from Caracas, Venezuela. Yes, that is the same Caracas that is the most dangerous city in the world due to the high number of homicides, most of which go unsolved. That is definitely comforting, knowing the facts when you are coming in to play a series here versus the Tiburones or Leones.
They have two teams that play here in the capital city of Caracas. Upon hearing how dangerous the city was, my family and girlfriend fear every day I have to spend in this city along with the rest of my family. Little do they know they take really good care of us and I actually feel pretty safe.
Venezuela may get a bad reputation for crime and other things, but as long as you go where you are supposed to go and do not venture out too much in places you are not familiar with, you are actually safe. This especially goes for Caracas. If you stay in the hotel and mall areas where they put you up, you will have little to no trouble. The craziest thing that might happen to you will be in the mall if a fan comes up to you and hounds you for a picture or an autograph.
The team puts us up in one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed in during my professional career. The hotel is the Gran Melia right down the street from the ballpark. We usually have roommates on the road trips due to the 40-something guys that come on each one. Somehow, I scored my own room. That sounds great and all, but I actually somehow got my own three rooms. They hooked it up with a three-bedroom suite all to myself with a jacuzzi tub and all. I was pleasantly surprised and was hoping we were staying here for more than one night. I don't know if I just drew the right straw or if someone likes me, but heck, I'll take it any day!
This is the first time we have played a team back-to-back games. Most the time we play one game then bring in a new team or head out to play another. It's very different from a pitcher's standpoint because in a series, you can learn how to pitch guys and get tendencies. With only a one-game series, you have to watch a lot closer and remember guys later on when you play them a few weeks later.
The trip to Caracas was memorable to say the least. As I wrote in the previous blogs, the fans here are rowdy and enjoy the game passionately. Some a little too much so because they place some bets on the game and when you lose, they lose. It was around the seventh inning in one of our games and there was a bang-bang play at first base that the umpire called us safe. The manager came out very upset and the fans got rowdy. They chant "sucio", which means "dirty" in Spanish. That would be enough to probably scare the umpire with how loud they chant, but then came the tossing of things. This was my first encounter with things being thrown onto the field in my career. You see this stuff on TV, but I was living in it now. They hurled ice cubes at him for a little bit until someone with pretty good aim got him in the back. This halted the game and they almost cleared the field until the announcer told them to stop.
Most of the time the fans will point out who hit him and then they will be ejected from the stadium. Apparently last year, one of our catchers got hit in the face with a piece of ice and was cut open and got stitches. That being said, you always have to have your head on a swivel here because you just never know.
One thing you do know is that there will be a band there everyday playing the drums. Yes, just like a high-school band with trumpets, tubas, quad and bass drums. Interesting to say the least.
So far in Caracas we are 2-0 and got another game to play here today. Those just so happen to be our only two wins this year, which is not so hot (Editor's note: these first few posts are a week behind). We are playing pretty good baseball, but not in the later innings. After a lot of meetings, we seem to be turning things around. You have to here or they'll get rid of you because winning here is everything.
I am off to the ballpark now and have to check out of my suite, unfortunately. When I get to the ballpark, I'll be checking into my locker, which is in a hallway. At least I got a great night's sleep here and hopefully next time I am in the world's most dangerous city, I can score another suite. Until next time, "fanaticos de los Marineros." (Use Google translate if needed)