Saturday, November 19, 2005

Regional Olympic Qualifying Baseball Tournament

Arizona hosted six teams in a Regional Olympic Qualifying Baseball Tournament -- we attended a game today between Panama and Guatemala. We saw most of the USA team and many of the Canadians during Fall League, so we opted for a Central American matchup. There were about 50 people in the stands, not counting the players, many of them fellow citizens of the players. The flags were flying; the national anthems played; the game was underway. Panama had many hits -- Cesar Quintero, #21, the catcher for Panama was a very fine looking young man, who hit each time at bat and one was a homerun out of the park. Both TV and radio stations from Panama were excitedly carrying the game live. When the call came to the media booth from Panama, the announcer answered it: "Hola, Yankee Stadium", with a big grin. Well, their national hero must be Mariana Rivera.
On the other side of Phoenix Muni, Guatemala was warming up their entire pitching staff, which they needed. But, #23, Aroldo Alvarez, was not in view -- a fellow fan said he was her favorite as "he is clean-cut and flashes a winning smile that says "I am glad to be in America."
That is probably true, after I read that 285,000 people are homeless and hungry following Hurricane Stan in Guatemala. There are international efforts to bring food to this impoverished nation, which lost its crops in the flooding. People are housed 10 to a room in make-shift shelters, awaiting arrival of plastic tents from the US. Over 200,000 children are at risk of starvation. The story about the poor living conditions and starvation follows:
The contrast of being on an Olympic-hopeful team playing in Arizona is truly a million miles away from home and their daily realities. It is unlikely these Guatemalans will make it to the next round of play, but they are playing with their hearts and those of their hungry nation.
And, yes, there were two scouts and one World Series ring was sighted.