Béisbol para cachacos

192
Pitcher de los Azulejos de Toronto, lanza la pelota contra un bateador de los Medias Rojas de Boston. Foto internet.

Óscar Sotelo Ortiz
@oscarsopos

Cuando el joven de 22 años Edgar Rentería conectó el inolvidable hit en la entrada 11, con bases llenas y dos outs, el mundo del béisbol se rindió a los pies de “El niño de Barranquilla”. Su decisivo batazo le daba el tíitulo de grandes ligas a los Marlins de Florida contra los Indios de Cleveland.

La hazaña se daba en la madrugada del lunes 27 de octubre de 1997 en Miami luego de un séptimo partido de infarto, convirtiendo al hijo del barrio popular de Montecristo en un genuino héroe deportivo, tanto para el sur de la Florida como para el país entero. Era el primer pelotero colombiano en conseguir un título en la máxima carpa beisbolera.

Gracias a la gloria que Colombia pudo disfrutar por televisión con la narración del legendario Mike Schmulson, las niñas y niños que salían a los potreros bogotanos cambiaron el balón de fútbol, los guantes de arquero y las improvisadas canchas, por bates y guantes de béisbol para jugar con pelotas de trapo un extraño pero atractivo juego que estaba en boca de todo el mundo.

Sin embargo, este impulso que derivó del acontecimiento deportivo con un colombiano como protagonista, no significó 21 años después, en una paulatina masificación y popularización de este juego en la cotidianidad del universo “cachaco”. Por lo tanto, el presente escrito, quiere persuadir a las gentes del interior con este deporte que conquista de manera enardecida a diversas y amplias masas cada verano.

Algo de contexto

El béisbol, tal y como se conoce, es en definitiva, norteamericano. Desde el siglo XIX, es en los Estados Unidos donde se han formado los principales equipos, ligas y competencias de béisbol. Parecido a su particular organización política, existen dos ligas profesionales (la Nacional y la Americana) que compiten alrededor de la temporada en la Major League Baseball, MLB, definiendo el título de grandes ligas entre sus mejores equipos.

Es conocida la afición que existe en la región Caribe por este deporte. Históricamente se reconoce a Cuba como el primer país latinoamericano en formar un club de béisbol en 1868, al igual que la formación de la liga profesional desde 1878 hasta la revolución con la abolición del profesionalismo en 1962. México, Panamá, Venezuela, República Dominicana, Puerto Rico, Colombia, entre otros países de la región, tienen sus propias historias de cómo llegó, se formó y se posicionó el béisbol en sus gentes.

Para el caso particular colombiano, es el nacimiento del siglo XX quien da la entrada al béisbol nacional. Se les atribuye a los hermanos Gonzalo e Ibrahim Zúñiga como los precursores de la pelota caliente en el país con Cartagena de Indias como epicentro, ciudad que junto a Barranquilla, mantienen hoy vigente el deporte en todo el Caribe colombiano. Ahora bien, Córdoba, Sucre, Magdalena, La Guajira y César, vibran igual o con más pasión de la pelota caliente, de los roletazos con fantasia, de los lanzamientos milimétricos.

De hecho, contrario a lo que pueda pensarse dado al fútbol-centrismo hegemónico en la cultura deportiva del país, es el béisbol el primer deporte en darle una gloria internacional a Colombia. La épica lograda fue en la Serie Mundial de 1947, evento que tuvo como sede a las dos ciudades beisboleras. Título mundial recordado en el Caribe, ignorado en el interior.

Para dummies

En esencia el béisbol es un deporte donde se enfrentan dos equipos compuestos por nueve jugadores. El campo de juego es un diamante cuyos cuatro ángulos son las bases. En la principal (home) se coloca el bateador, detrás de él, el receptor (cátcher) y enfrente, en la bisectriz del ángulo, el lanzador (pitcher). El bateador, que pertenece al equipo contrario de los jugadores que ocupan el campo, intenta golpear con el bate la pelota tirada por el lanzador.

Cada equipo tiene nueve turnos para lograr anotar carreras, con particularidades que hacen del béisbol un deporte único: No hay tiempo delimitado de juego, no se basa en el contacto físico entre jugadores opuestos, los cambios en el equipo son infinitos, no existe empate y no hay límite de puntos.

Los roles son definidos, quien defiende, defiende, mientras quien ataca, ataca. Entretanto la defensiva tiene que eliminar a tres bateadores para terminar su turno, la ofensiva debe aprovechar sus turnos para sumar puntos.

Se puede eliminar (ponchar) un bateador por tres vías. La primera es que se logren tres lanzamientos válidos en los que el bateador no consiga pegarle a la pelota, acción conocida como strike-out. La segunda forma es que de existir un golpe de la pelota por parte del bateador, alguno de los nueve jugadores la atrape antes de que esta toque el suelo. Y la tercera vía es que con la pelota en juego, esta llegue antes que el bateador a la base.

Para sumar puntos o carreras se debe considerar lo básico. Lo primero es que se anota cuando el bateador toca la cuarta base (home) lugar inicial del juego, luego de tocar previamente las tres bases anteriores. Cuando el bateador golpea la pelota, puede correr de base en base como prefiera, incluso cuando esté de turno otro bateador o cuando la pelota esté en manos del pitcher. No puede existir más de un jugador ofensivo en la misma base. De igual forma, cuando un pitcher realiza cuatro tiros inválidos, llamadas bolas, y el bateador no intenta golpearlas, este avanza automáticamente a la primera base.

Lo bello

El clímax del poder ofensivo de un equipo está en el glorioso home run. Si el bateador golpea la pelota con tal fuerza que logre enviarla a la tribuna o fuera del estadio, él (y todos los bateadores que estén en las bases), transitan libremente el diamante sumando un punto cada uno. Esta aclamada jugada puede sumar cuatro puntos en lo que se conoce como grand slam. Cada presentador deportivo la canta distinto, pero la epopeya indescriptible es la misma.

El béisbol es identificado erróneamente como un deporte lento o aburrido. Lo que se desconoce es que es un deporte justo, un juego perfecto, cuya simetría se vive en cada entrada. En el pitcher está el cerebro defensivo de cada jugada, combinando inteligencia y esfuerzo físico. Entre él y el bateador, existe un duelo, un desafío, donde solo puede existir la gloria o el fracaso.

Mientras en el fútbol es el “buen pie” el catalizador para identificar quienes hacen del espectáculo deportivo una pintura, en el beisbol es el brazo de los jugadores quien determina la ecuación extraordinaria del show, no solo en términos ofensivos donde los bateadores exigen al máximo su capacidad corporal, sino especialmente en la parte defensiva, donde pitchers, catchers, jugadores de base, paracortos y jardineros, combinan fuerza y precisión que solo el poder del brazo puede lograr para cumplir con las exigencias intempestivas del juego.

Invitación

Por estos días se desarrollan en los Estados Unidos las finales de las dos prin­cipales ligas de béisbol. Por la Liga Americana se enfrentan los equipos de los Dodgers de Los Ángeles y los Cerveceros de Milwaukee, mientras que en la Liga Americana se enfrentan los Medias Rojas de Boston contra los Astros de Houston.

Con un sin número de latinoamericanos, donde se destacan la contundente presencia de hermanos venezolanos, la serie mundial promete cautivar al público amante de “la pelota caliente” con juegos apasionantes que nos llevarán a una nueva edición del “Clásico de Otoño” con los Astros y los Dodgers como los favoritos.

La invitación es a renovar los repertorios en el consumo deportivo, cambiar el futbol-centrismo de RCN-Caracol, sintonizar Tele Caribe, y disfrutar conjuntamente la pasión deportiva de una región, del pueblo Caribe, que apasionadamente disfruta con el béisbol como si fuese una razón inquebrantable de su propia existencia.

* En la noche del 20 de octubre, en el Miller Park de Milwaukee, Estados Unidos, la novena de los Dodgers de Los Ángeles se imponían por 5-1 contra el conjunto local de los Cerveceros. Con esta victoria quedó definida la serie mundial, pues el jueves 18 de octubre la novena de los Medias Rojas de Boston superaba al conjunto favorito de los Astros de Houston con un resultado de 4 – 1. Con los campeones tanto de la Liga Nacional como de la Americana, el siguiente duelo arrancará en la noche del 23 de octubre en el mítico Fenway Park de Boston dando inicio al esperado “Clásico de otoño”.

** De igual forma, se desarrolla en estos momentos en las ciudades de Barranquilla y Montería el Mundial de Béisbol Sub-23 que cuenta con la participación de 12 selecciones nacionales. Al igual que la serie mundial, este evento deportivo es transmitido por Telecaribe.

La pelota de béisbol tiene una circunferencia de 22cm y un peso de 142 gr. Tiene dos cubiertas de cuero con 108 perforaciones que per- miten coserla a su perfección. Foto internet.

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