Writing > Rooting and Game seven

August 25, 2015: Rooting

From a purely rooting point of view, I want the Diablos Rojos to win tonight. It's game six in the first round of the playoffs (that is to say, the quarter-finals). The Diablos won the first two games at home last Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Toros de Tijuana won their three home games over the weekend. It's a best-of-seven series. The Diablos absolutely need to win tonight. And if they do that, game seven will be tomorrow night.

This season, the Diablos' stadium is a lot smaller (less than 5,000 capacity), and getting tickets is a pain in the arse. They have an online ticket sales but my non-Mexican credit card doesn't work on their site, so when I want tickets for playoff games, I have to go to queue up when the tickets go on sale. For the first two games of the playoffs, my pal Samuel and I arrived 75 minutes before the advertised start time for ticket sales, and we were about 130th in the line.

Once the Toros won game four and assured us of a game six, they announced the sale of tickets on the next day. I was there about an hour and a half early, and the line was a whole lot shorter, but crucially, when I was choosing which section and row to sit in, I could see on the screen that way more people had used the online booking. Not so many tickets still available in my preferred section.

Which brings us to tonight's game. There's a part of me that kinda wouldn't mind if the Diablos lost. When I am there in a couple of hours, I will of course want them to win, but right now, the thought of the Diablos winning, and not knowing what kind of time suck and ballache will occur tomorrow when I want to get a ticket for game seven... well, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if they lost. The thought of getting tickets for game seven, and if they win that, the next two home games in the semi-finals, stresses me out, too much. (I've typed about ticket stress before here.) Plus, it's my girlfriend's birthday on the same day as a possible game one of the semi-finals, and her birthday party on Saturday, the same day as game two. And if the Diablos were to get to the Serie del Rey (that is, the final) then, gosh knows how tough it's gonna be to get non-online tickets from the ticket booth.

All of this comes down to my semi-ambivalence to the idea of playoffs. The Diablos were by far the best team in the Mexican League. So there we go. End of story. Diablos were the best team. But no, we have to endure the idiocy of playoffs where an eighth best team in the league could still conceivable be "champions." In my head, I know that my team were the best team this year, yet we still have to go through this charade. Last season, the Diablos were the best team in the regular season, and won the championship in the playoffs, too. My joy - and it was proper joy - was partly because the coin toss-iness of the playoffs had not got in the way of proving what I already knew. And it'll be the same tonight. I just want them to win so that what I already know will be confirmed by the record books.

¡Vamos Diablos!

Update, 26 August: Diablos won 14-1. There will be a seventh game tonight. Tickets go on sale at 11am. I will, of course, traipse over to the stadium to buy a ticket, return home, then go back to the stadium for the game. I'm not gonna say it's a hard life, just, y'know, it's essentially 2-3 hours wasted in the middle of the day.

August 28, 2015: Game seven

So, there was a game seven. Diablos lost.

At the end of game six, the stadium announcer told us that tickets for the seventh and deciding game in the series would go on sale at 11am the following day (Wednesday). One of the benefits of being freelance is being able to massage your work day a little and nip out to buy tickets for baseball games. I arrived at the stadium at 9.30am. There was already well over 200 people in the queue. I was very thankful I had a backlog of Radiolabs and This American Lifes on my iPod.

It was a boring time. Achey feet. Four-and-a-half hours in line in total. People would have a wander around and come back with different reports of what was going on. That they'd sold out of all the seats in the infield. Or that they only had solo seats left (ie people not being able to sit together). And once I got to the ticket window, at just gone 2pm, there weren't many seats left, but still enough to have families of four sitting together.

Back home, I looked in the mirror and saw I had a bit of sunburn on my left arm and neck. It was weirdly exhausting standing in a line for a long time. I took my shoes off, got into bed and relaxed for a couple of hours. At that point, I was very comfortable with the idea of the Diablos losing the game. The thought of any more games, any more queuing for tickets, had drained a lot of the joy of baseball from me.

And when I did get back to the ballpark, an hour before the start of the game, it was pretty subdued. It stayed that way for two or three innings. The crowd, it seemed, all felt the same as me. Then, after taking a 2-1 lead in the first inning, the Toros de Tijuana got five more runs in the top of the third. Diablos 7-1 down. When the first batter came out for the bottom of the third, the atmosphere perked up. It was like we all individually and simultaneously realised: we have to get into this now!

A run in the bottom of the third. 7-2.
A run in the bottom of the fifth. 7-3.
Two runs in the bottom of the sixth. 7-5.
A run in the bottom of the eighth. 7-6.
Close, but not enough.

I'm not a good loser. I hate seeing the other team celebrate. When the last ball flew into the glove of the Tijuana centre fielder, I turned my head and looked away and then at the floor.

The season was over. It began with Tijuana beating the Diablos on opening day. It ended with Tijuana beating the Diablos in game seven of the quarter-finals. In between those two games, the Diablos were by far the best team in the league. That's what I want to remember from this season.

Diablos Rojos del México, Best Team in the Mexican League, 2015.