Friday, June 11, 2010

Baseball at Nationals Park in Washington, sacred sites in Mexico

I was two days too late to see the Nationals´ new phenom, Steven Strasburg, in his major league debut, in which he struck out 14 batters and created national buzz.

Thursday night was just another bad night for Pittsburgh, as the Nationals
beat the Pirates 4-2, and completed a three-game sweep.

What I like about baseball in person is the space reserved for the game. A ball park and the diamond it contains have a kind of perfect beauty and orderliness that the messy reality of daily life does not. The simple rules of the game -- and this is true for any game, including soccer -- create a ritualized form of reality, a more ordered version of it, in which what men and women do can affect the way the world turns.

Today´s athletes are heroes in that they act out our myths and beliefs about life, and because they have replaced the gods. Mexican wrestling matches have this kind of mythic battle of good vs. evil, gringos vs. Mexicans, etc. (See the next entry on this blog.)

When you explore archeological sites in Mexico, most of them have a ball court where a game resembling soccer was played. The game had a sacred significance, but it is also true that people played the game for fun.

The ball court at Montealban in Oaxaca, which we visited in December.

Supposedly Moctezuma, the Aztec emperor defeated by Cortez, would strap on his belt and play with his nephews for fun.

At some sites, evidence suggests that the losers of a ball game were ritually sacrificed.

No one was sacrificed after the Nationals-Pirates game, but they were subjected to press interviews. Basically the same thing.

I´m in DC and Boston for a few days, training Knight Journalism fellows and getting some training myself.

1 comment:

  1. Rodger Wilson9:45 AM

    Oaxaca, in Montealban, had the best hotdogs in the league. Most folks say it was the mustard that made the difference. I think the team was called the Ricardos