There are times where I might be a tad dramatic, where I speak in hyperbole, where I might story tell, but yesterday was one of the greatest games I have ever been too. I have had the privilege over the last seven years to attend some crazy great playoff and World Series games, outside of Game 5 in 2017, The Correa oppo taco walk off, The Altuve G6 ALCS and probably Game 6 of 2022, I highly doubt there has been a crowd as electric and loud as what I just witnessed at the World Baseball Classic.
Noon on a Monday
We trekked down I95 South to Miami for a nice Monday morning 3 hour drive instead of 90 minutes because Mr. JoshStros didn’t want to take any tolls and we canvassed every inch of Hollywood, Miami Gardens and Miami streets. After cosplaying as Mike Lowry and Marcus Burnett (shoutout BAD BOYS Franchise) we finally got to the Loan Depot Stadium, that people in the car mistook for a concert arena and not the actual stadium we were routed too. Wherewithal was pretty low. We parked in a ladies front yard and she hustled young Noah by speaking Spanish very fast and he panicked and gave her a 100 dollar bill expecting to receive by simple math 60 dollars in change as he stood by a 40 dollar park here sign but with the ole switcharoo of angry Spanish he was only handed a 20 dollar bill and walked back to us in a sulking manner. (WE WILL CIRCLE BACK TO THAT 20 DOLLAR BILL). He got got. Tough scene for the young buck but sometimes you have to chalk it up to the game. At this point I was itching to run to the stadium because I could hear the drums in the distance and the Miami vibes were vibin early and often. Some would say I was home.
On the concourse outside of the stadium, it felt like Carnival. The crowds for the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua were ready to rock and roll about 90 minutes before first pitch. The atmosphere was juiced. We wandered into the stadium myself, Josh, Noah, Garrett and Jerry. As they were wide eyed and fist bumping to Mr. Worldwide (embarrassing), I led our expedition into a World Baseball Classic game. A truly sports bucket list item. We made a quick lap around the bottom concourse soaking in the culture and sports energy smoothie and we quickly went our separate ways as the camera boys were scouting locations to capture content while I asked about 10 people where they were getting their cafe con leche and then immediately panicking when told in Spanish where the exact location was but due to Duolingo and my parents moving me to the suburbs, I gave one of those Noah head nods and wandered lost into the abyss of the crowd. After minutes of walking we found the coffee shop which was located in centerfield, and I found myself in a primo location for Standing Room Only. I must say the CF for the Marlins from a fan standpoint was pretty damn awesome. You had a concourse with three bars and plenty of SRO space and you could breathe and not feel like you were packed in like sardines and you could see the actual game. We had our coffee and our breakfast empanadas which was truly the best ballpark food I have ever had. Young Noah eventually found his way to centerfield and we locked down Centerfield as the game started.
Both team’s fans were locked in pitch by pitch and damn that was refreshing. The WBC has shown that baseball will always be a global game but the fan’s of each country should be highlighted because damn if it didn’t feel like they felt like they were playing as well. It was awesome. I think we all knew the Dominican Republic, the overwhelming favorite of the World Baseball Classic, was going to take out some frustrations on Nicaragua due to their first game upset and they kind of did in a slow burn fashion. Juan Soto, the young 21 year old, batted leadoff as a spark to the offense and he answered with a 2-4 day with a boombah, Manny Machado who probably had 3 balls die at the warning track finally got an oppo taco late and the Dominican offense gave Astros ace Cristian Javier all the support he needed.
Javier had his fastball up to 95, the slider rocking and the chaneup dippin. 4IP 4K 2H and didn’t break a sweat.
Somehow by the third inning, me and Noah stumbled into a club down on the field level in LF. It was sick.
Houston is the perfect choice outside of Miami to be the second city in the US to host a WBC pool. The city is multicultural and diverse, has an amazing food scene and used to handle the logistics of big games over the last decade. It is a simple no brainer. Make it happen.
P.S That 20 dollar bill Noah got hustled out of we used to grab some post game street dogs from the nicest Cuban lady. Yes, I panicked and put Mayo on my glizzy but to be fair I thought it was some chipotle sauce or something. I got got.