Venezuelans Make All the Difference in the World Series

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Lisa Mullins: I'm Lisa Mullins and this is The World, a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI, and WGBH in Boston. With all the concerns surrounding Hurricane Sandy's arrival, it was easy to miss yesterday's big sports news, unless you were in San Francisco, Detroit, or Venezuela. The San Francisco Giants won the World Series in pretty thrilling fashion last night. It took ten innings, but the Giants beat the Detroit Tigers 4-3, so San Francisco swept the series four games to none. And who drove in the winning run for the Giants last night? Venezuela native Marco Scutaro. Who won the World Series MVP? Venezuela native Pablo Sandoval. Here's Sandoval speaking to reporters after the victory last night.

Pablo Sandoval: I still can't believe the game. It's one of the games of your dreams. you don't want to wake up. This is one of the games, you know, you fight, and you win to, you do a lot of things to win the game.

Mullins: And they did indeed win the game. A lot of Venezuelans can't believe it either, Alfredo Vissasmil for one. He's in Detroit now. He's been covering the Series for Venezuela's largest daily newspaper, Ultimas Noticias. Now all together, between the Giants and the Tigers, Alfredo, there were nine Venezuelan players in the World Series. They could have had a team of their own. Alfredo, it must have been tough for fans, though, in Venezuela to know just who they should cheer for.

Alfredo Villasmil: Yeah, well, in Venezuela, many people wishing for the Detroit Tigers because of Miguel Cabrera, and every day buying the newspaper, following the web pages, Twitter, to see what Miguel Cabrera was doing, and I was sent here because he was supposed to be the great character of the Series, but he wasn't. But it was another Venezuelan guy, and when he, when Panda, Sandoval, he just, three home runs in one game, I said oops, what is this? It's supposed to be Panda.

Mullins: By the way, just to clarify, Pablo Sandoval you're calling Panda, he's also known as Kung Fu Panda, who won the Most Valuable Player award. This, we should say also, even got the attention of Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, who's been tweeting about it along with a lot of other people.

Villasmil: Hugo Chavez made a tweet, a lot of people, former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, a lot of people, he didn't say which one, but more than 300 text messages just to congratulate him for the accomplish of three home runs in a game.

Mullins: This is Sandoval you're talking about.

Villasmil: Yes, and another good thing was Gregor Blanco was the other Venezuelan guy who was brilliant. He is one of the favorite players of the fanatics up there in Venezuela because he is the best player in the winter ball. And actually we have winter ball right now from October to January. Gregor Blanco plays for Tiburones de La Guaira, the La Guaira Sharks, and he's going to be with La Guaira playing in December the first.

Mullins: So this is a real bonanza for Venezuelans because they're not even saying goodbye really to the baseball season right now, because a lot of these guys, a lot of the Venezuelan players from, I would think both Detroit and San Francisco, are heading back home to play through the wintertime.

Villasmil: Yes, actually, I always, when I'm interviewed here in the States, I always say that baseball is not a sport in Venezuela, it's a religion. Even in the normal chat, when you chat in the street, in our jargon, baseball is always present. Actually I'm leaving tomorrow because November 1 is going to be Caracas vs. Magallanes, the rivalry. There's nothing compare, forget about Boston-Yankees, you know, that's a boy game. We are Latins. We drum, we play drums and we shout, we shout very loud, we dance out in the stadium. So you can imagine, 25,000 people make the noise of about 8,000 people, no? [inaudible] told me that is nothing compared, even the World Series, nothing compare, has nothing to do with Caracas-Magallanes.

Mullins: There's no comparison in terms of the volume of the crowd. And the volume created by the crowd. Alfredo, it's so nice to talk to you. Alfredo Villasmil, sports reporter for Venezuela's Ultimas Noticias newspaper, talking about Venezuelan participation and pride in baseball's World Series, won last night by the San Francisco Giants with Venezuelan Pablo Sandoval as MVP. Thank you, Alfredo.

Villasmil: Thank you, Lisa.