For the first time since Anthony started playing baseball in Mexico, 2014 marked the first time he would actually be residing there. I was hesitant about the idea, but after living in Grandma for one season and then living in Yuma for another, I decided I wasn’t that bent out of shape about our arrangements. I’d stay in Tucson in our comfortable apartment, work my full-time job, and just drive the four hours to San Luis on the weekends that he had home games. Seemed like a good game plan to me, and after going to nearly every single game of the prior season, I was happy to avoid some of the extra time in the stands. Don’t get me wrong. I was on board this time with baseball, but I challenge you to go to six baseball games a week for four months and share how much you still love America’s past-time. You’ll be wishing it was literally a past time, too.
So after work on Friday’s I’d head home to pack up my weekend gear for Mexico. I’d have my bags already packed, but it still seemed like the most daunting task of my life getting out of that apartment. The moment I’d pick up my pre-packed suitcase, the dogs would go mental. They would jump all over me, begging to be put on their leashes in fear of being left behind. When I’d walk out and close the door behind me, I’d hear the thud of the of two of them running and jumping against the front door like rabid beasts. I’d make another trip to get their bag of food and their sets of bowls, all the while somehow setting them into more of crazed frenzy. By the time I got them on their leashes and to the car, I was covered from head to toe in scratches and dog fur. (By about the third month into the season, I managed to use my brain and put them into the car before everything else, effectively reducing scratches, fur, and time spent). We then would make the four hour drive to the Mexican border, where I would drop the dogs at Anthony’s apartment and head straight to the field for four more hours of sitting on my already numb ass.
Speaking of Anthony’s apartment. I feel as though I should at least share a bit about the, um, conditions. It was $250 a month to live there plus internet and electricity. You’d think a guy who hit .350 the prior season would get some help with the living accommodations, but we clearly had not made it to that level of baseball yet. So that money came out of our already withered bank account. I have to be honest and confess that they did offer him to live in a house with four other players on the team. All he had to do was walk outside whenever he wanted to go to the bathroom or take a shower. I told him he’d never see me in that country if I had to walk outside at night to take a pee, or worse a….you know. And I can rough it if it’s absolutely necessary, but being barbaric was out of the question.
So having our own place was a positive, and it had four conjoined walls and a roof. In some parts of San Luis, that is considered a luxury so we’re chalking that up in the ‘win’ column. But the door happened to have a gaping crack under it which kind of negated the idea of having a solid foundation. Without fail, we’d wake up in the mornings to at least one or two cockroaches dead and upside down on the shower floor and piles of dust that blew in from the parking lot all night.The running water that came out of the faucets in that place smelled of what I can only describe as mildew, rust and sewage all mixed together and simmered in one dirty pipe. I used to stand in that shower (on that mat I bought from Target) and make Anthony pour water from a gallon jug into my hands so that I could wash my face with it. You start to really acknowledge the blessings of America when you contemplate showering for fear of getting dirtier. And if the idea of cleaning yourself with feces-water didn’t make your skin crawl, then you just needed to take one glimpse at the mattress that they graciously provided for you. The thing had to be mashed down to about an inch thick and was covered in whatever stains the imagination could haunt you with. We covered it up with our queen-sized air mattress, two egg crates, a mattress pad and sheets, but there was no solace in sight while sleeping in that apartment. I just knew that if Mama D was right all along, then God was going to repay me handsomely for these years of sacrifice.
The place had a stove, but no oven so we got real crafty with the food we would cook. And by crafty, I mean we just ate an abnormal amount of tacos. I think we consumed enough red meat in those four months to stop a toddler’s heart, maybe even a teenager’s, but if you’re ever in Mexico you should do yourself a solid and get a street taco. Those things are a small slice of heaven in that hell hole. Anthony even started bribing the owner of the restaurant with tickets to the games in exchange for free food. They really loved him at that place despite his short-comings in the Spanish language: “Hola. Dos tacos. Carne y queso. No mas. Por favor.” That’s literally what he said. Every. Single. Time. Eventually they just started bringing him the two tacos with “steak and cheese, no more,” We’d then hand the tickets to the owner who sat at the cash register with his wad of cash everyday, and he’d smile at Anthony and give him a fist pound.
There wasn’t much we could do regarding the apartment, but I gave it a good effort. I must have brought a new set of sheets every time I visited. I laid down a cheap rug and hung up some cream colored curtains to really brighten up the place. A bright white shower curtain and bath mat gave me hope that the bathroom might feel cleaner, but no. Epic fail. They just got dirtier, quicker. I also bought a mini vacuum in some delusional state thinking Anthony might zoom it around and suck up the never-ending dirt. I think that happened exactly zero times. Instead, we just opened the front door and swept it back out into the parking lot. Like everything else we had been through up until that point, we just compromised with what we had. The two of us managed to make the best of a situation, and I was hanging on real tight to Mama D’s mantra – “God’s got a plan for all of us!”