Sam Freeman's Report #4 from Venezuela

Springfield Cardinals reliever Sam Freeman continues his reports for The Cardinal Nation as he participates in the Venezuelan League during the winter season.

What's going on everybody? Once again, it's time for this update.

This past Monday, our third off day, was meant to be a day where would be doing a lot of sleeping, maybe take a trip to the mall to eat then go chill out at the beach. At breakfast that morning, I had talked to one of my teammates about going to the mall to eat lunch around 2:30 so I could go back to sleep for a little while longer because it was late when we got back to the hotel from a road trip the night before. Apparently some different plans with other teammates were made while I was sleeping and instead of going to the mall at 2:30, everyone was going to go to the mall at 1:30 then go Jackie Beach (the best beach on the island). I'm not too much of a beach person so I would have been fine just going to the beach that is behind our resort and only a five-minute walk away, but I was hungry so I ended up going with everyone else because I figured since there were a lot of people going, the cab ride would have been cheaper than me going to eat by myself.

I regretted that decision as soon as we got to the mall and a teammate of ours from Venezuela informed us that Jackie Beach was a good 45 minutes taxi ride away. At that point I had made up my mind that if everyone else had decided to go that beach I was just going to wear it and pay for the taxi ride back to the hotel by myself because I wasn't about to be pay 50bs. to be crammed into a small cab and ride for 45 minutes to a beach when there's a beach at our resort.

To my surprise, everyone else was thinking along the same lines as me. Instead of going to Jackie Beach, we ended up going to another beach that was only five minutes away from the mall. That beach turned out to be some kind of dock for small boats or something, I'm not exactly sure. Needless to say, the majority of the group was disappointed and we all decided we would just go back to the hotel. So after three and a half hours and 80bs spent on 3 cab rides, I came to the conclusion that I spent a good chunk of my off day doing the complete opposite of what I had initially planned.

I'll use that day as a learning experience I guess. The trip wasn't a total bust though, I took a pretty cool picture of two ships that were sinking or had already sunk and had were just stuck in the sand. When we came back to the hotel, we all went to the pool that had the water slide. The only reason I went was to play catch with one of my teammates because I don't like the my arm feels after not throwing for a day, so after I finished, I just took it to my room.

Later that night, all of my teammates went to eat a seafood restaurant recommended by one of the coaches. I wanted zero part of it because I was running low on paper stacks and from the way my teammates were describing the restaurant to me, it sounded like it was going to be expensive. Instead, I had planned on just ordering room service so I could charge it to my card and save my cash. That plan backfired when I went to order my food and they told me they didn't have the machines to charge credit cards. So for dinner that night, I had small bag of chips and a bite size Twix. I smashed that breakfast buffet the next morning...

Everything for the next few days was pretty much the same. We played two games at home then finished the week by playing four games on the road - one game in Valencia, one in Maracay, and two in Caracas. Things were going smoothly right up until we were about to get to Caracas. Whenever we travel on the road, we take two big team buses so everyone can spread out and have room. Well, the other bus was behind us and ended up having to pull over due to some type of engine trouble or something, I'm not quite sure. So our bus pulls over to wait until everything gets straightened out. We wait for about 20 minutes or so then we start moving again, apparently whenever we were pulling back onto the highway the other bus driver was a little too close to the shoulder or something because all of a sudden I hear "BOOM" and our of the corner of my eye, I see something (it turned out to be part of the side mirror) fly across the front of our bus. Everyone started laughing because at the time it was pretty funny, then I realized that if the bus had been only a foot or two closer, the whole left side of our bus could have been smashed. That took me back a little bit.

After the bus incident, we pulled into the city and at a stop light and saw one dude standing on another dude's shoulders, juggling three torches of fire. The first game in Caracas started at 5pm and everyone was excited because the hotel we were staying at was right next to the mall and we were planning of finishing up in time to go eat there after the game. We made it through 4 2/3 innings (one out from an official game) and were losing 5-1 when it started raining. Long story short, we waited around for 3 1/2 hours to resume playing at around 10:00pm. We did end up winning 12-7 so that was nice BUT the game ended around 12:30am and when it came time to eat, the only option we had was to get room service from our hotel.

As soon as I walked into the hotel, I got the impression that I was going to get blasted with the price of the room service food and it turned out that I was right because for two chicken sandwiches, fries, and one bottle of water, me and my teammate paid 350bs., which if you break it down in the 4-1 ratio I talked about in the last post, comes out to $87.50. It hurt my heart a little bit to pay for that food. Man, I really thought about just waiting until the next day but I was too hungry.

In the second game, everything was going along fine until a foul ball was hit by one of our players just over the third base dugout (the home team's dugout). At first I thought nothing of it until I heard a sudden uproar of cheering. The fan that caught the foul ball launched it back onto the field towards our dugout. I quickly found out that it isn't out of the ordinary for that to happen. I looked to see if any of the security people, who were decked out in riot gear, were going to do anything and nope... they just stood there. I was in shock a little bit because I only see that back in the States sometimes after a home run by the away team. I'll remember that though when their fans scream at us for balls during batting practice. I'll tell them like my Uncle Walter used to tell me back in the day when I tried to hit him up for cash and be like "Naaaah see, you get's noooothin..."

We finished up the game and stopped to eat. I had the choice of a restaurant that had more of the traditional Venezuelan cuisine or McDonald's. I had to get that Chicken Mac. I'm going to have to chill out on the food out here... been feeling real sluggish lately. Pretty sure it's all the grease. Oh well.

That's all I have for this past week. I will be sure to keep y'all posted.

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