October is the best of times, and the worst of times. It’s the best because the baseball comes to a climax—my Los Angeles Dodgers won the first game of their division series last night—but it’s also worst because baseball virtually disappears off the calendar until spring training begins in February. From early November, I’ll be in South America, mostly in Argentina, where baseball is a tiny niche sport.
|Brazil's O Globo daily tweeted the news of Gomes' heroics against the Yankees.|
That said, baseball got more extended press in Brazil last night when Cleveland catcher Yan Gomes—a native of São Paulo and the first Brazilian ever to reach major league baseball—made all the difference in the Indians' 9-8, 13-inning victory over the New York Yankees. The Rio de Janeiro daily O Globo published a lengthy account of the game on its web page, stressing of course the exploits of their countryman.
For Cleveland, Gomes—who plays the most demanding position on the field—was the hero of a comeback from an early 8-3 deficit. In the top of the 11th inning, he thwarted a Yankees’ rally by picking off the potential winning run at second base, on a brilliant throw with nobody out. Then, in the bottom of the 13th, his walkoff single into the left field corner drove in the winning run and his teammates mobbed him.
|"His name is Yan Gomes! From Brazil to the world!"|
There aren’t many Brazilians in major league baseball (most South American imports are Venezuelan), but Gomes’ countryman Paulo Orlando—who waxed enthusiastic over Gomes’ performance—was the first to win a World Series ring, with the Kansas City Royals in 2015. Seattle relief pitcher Thyago Vieira and former major leaguer André Rienzo (now in the San Diego Padres’ organization) are also paulistas, while Atlanta’s promising Luiz Gohara comes from a smaller city in São Paulo state.
|Buenos Aires's Liga Metropolitana plays at the Estadio Nacional de Béisbol, near the international airport at Ezeiza.|
Unfortunately, even the limited advances in Brazilian baseball haven’t yet made it to Argentina (though there’s a league in Buenos Aires and a small national stadium, with other fields scattered around the metropolitan area). Thus, it’ll be quite a while until we see the impact that Argentines have made in professional basketball through players like Manuel Ginóbili and Luis Scola.