January 29, 2019 01:15 AM
"Cardinals will be champion of Luis Valbuena". This is what Alfonso Saer has said to anyone who wants to hear it since the beginning of October. The emblematic voice of red birds for more than half a century argued that the influence of the bigleaguer-absent in the last attempt of triumph-and the balance he gave to formation, by the power of his staff and his discipline in the home, would finally change the course of these 18 years of disappointment that Lara accumulated in LVBP.
Valbuena, we know well, did not continue with the team. He and Jose Castillo died on December 7th in that tragedy on the road caused by highway pirates. And nevertheless, they never received more names than in the weeks following the ill-fated ambush, in which an entire list, about 40 men, between Creole and imported, repeated every day, in an intimate and emotional ritual, that I was in this championship in honor and I remember the fallen friends.
This Sunday they ran again, under the shirts of numbers 1 and 23, those of the pair of stars, who were still present in the twilight cave where they played. "One, two, three, little friends!" It was the slogan again. The same as Castillo repeated so many times, encouraging his teammates.
Westerners did not pardon the Lions in the second attempt to close the 2018-2019 championship final. On Saturday they could not. Perhaps because of the scenario, because it is never easy to measure up with Caracas at the University, where fans of the capital receive a lot of noise and pressure; or perhaps it was the nerves of knowing so close to the crown, so close and so elusive in the last two janeiros; or it may have been just a bad day, from when that coin had it.
The case was that there was no perfect performance on Saturday, and for the first time in the postseason he made two mistakes and allowed four foul runs, and could not start the pitch, and lost the ball when there were complete bases, and bullpen insurance failed .
The club that played so well between October and December 7, and finally resumed the crushing step of the first playoff, was this Sunday, yes, the machine that had been without pressure to the Braves and Navigators, to finally break into the hairy.
They attacked again early, now Luis Diaz. They again appealed aggressively to their relievers when coach Jose Moreno saw Mexican rookie Marco Carrillo hesitate and preferred to take him away, otherwise he would let the cats escape. They turned the board again, as they did twice in Barquisimeto, when the metropolitans still played with the full payroll. And with flawless defense, the one that made the least mistakes in the tournament, and with that pitch that leaves the best collective efficacy of the crop, they set the table for the subsequent blast that would secure the scepter.
Diaz and his teammates could not against the powerful lineup cardenalero, who surrounded the arrival of Willians Astudillo, the slugger so desperately needed by birds since Valbuena stopped being a player to become his guardian angel. With a collective average above 0.360 before the last duel and an uncontrollable Juniel Querecuto, leader in extra-bases in this set of five falls, came the races that put the dirt in the middle, enough ground to think ahead in several innings that the celebration would be possible.
A large relay of Raul Rivero contained the anxieties of the locals, who had promised to do anything to avoid the party in their own home. There were four innings and a third blank, as in his good times, to claim, after a discrete year before himself and his audience, when he had more value. And then Vicente Campos and Ricardo Gomez and Felipe Paulino, a new sample of the relentless fire department that handled Moreno so well when he pressed the pressure.
The last one to come out was a doubleplay. It had to be. The cardinals wore gloves to avoid rival races, especially this past month. It was also a way to collectively close a function that was worked on as a team. From Rivero to Querecuto to Rangel Ravelo, finally the 27th. The most balanced cast of 2018-2019 broke out in hugs before hundreds of fans with their colors, who shouted in the gallery on the right with the same joy that sprouted in the field. The blackboard was 9 by 2 in the park of Los Chaguaramos.
"The mission is to win the last game that is played in Venezuela," Moreno said many times. And so it happened. While everyone was jumping, the Caribbean Confederation announced that the Caribbean series scheduled to be held in Barquisimeto would be held in another location and with a new date, due to the events that the country is going through. There will be no more ball here until October. That was inevitable. But this crown was not. The team that won the most games between the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2019, three intense work championships, has finally completed the last step. Now they have their coveted champion ring.
Someone rushed into the cave when the players and their coaches were about to receive the trophy. In seconds, the shirts with 1 and 23 flew to the platform, to be part of the ceremony. There were Castillo and Valbuena, remembered by everyone in each interview, psychic engines of a set that taught us how to fall, suffer the greatest pain, and still return to their feet, follow and conquer. It is a lesson for the good country that we want to build and for the life of each one.
The two players who did not celebrate in body did it in soul, revered for being the inspiration that made possible this victory.
No, Saer was not wrong. Because I owed it to Castillo and Valbuena, the cardinals finally won.