The Revenge of the Pickles – The Portland Pickles vs The Venados.
By Sheila Madsen, July 2021
The Portland Pickles are returning for a revenge match against The Venados. Once again, event promoter Simon Lynds has organized this special game known as The Friendship Series. Alan Miller and his Pickles co-owners are so thrilled to be returning to Mazatlan. In a recent phone interview from his home in Los Angeles, Alan said “we love Mazatlan, we love the culture, we love the people, it’s a privilege and an honour to be invited by the Venados. During the pandemic, many people were baking banana bread – that wasn’t for me, I was restless so along with my partners I bought a professional team that’s on the same level as the Venados called the Cleburne Railroaders. Together we are going to beat the Venados.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW NOW:
The game will be played on Thursday September 30, at 7 p.m. Gates at the stadium, Estadio Teodoro Mariscal, open at 5 p.m. First come, first seated. It’s free! This gives you a two hour window to mix and mingle and perhaps buy a few drinks and enjoy the entertainment.
The owners have cherry picked players for this revenge match – players from Portland Pickles and from the Cleburne Railroaders. Yes, Venados watch out! This year you’ll be playing against a stronger team, a mix of amateurs and elite professionals. The Venados play in the “winter” while the Railroaders play in the summer. Alan Miller says “we could do a lot together, perhaps some cross culture games with the Venados coming to Cleburne; we don’t know right now, but there is tremendous potential, plus a large portion of the Cleburne population is Latino so we think the Venados will feel at home.”
IF YOU WANT TO LIFT YOURSELF UP, LIFT SOMEONE ELSE:
Through the generousity of all the owners two more scholarships for 17 year-old boys will be awarded. In 2019, coaches, talent scouts and owners held tryouts for teenagers who wanted to win a baseball scholarship to Portland. The typical criteria had to be met: talent, attitude, and a strong desire for a formal education. Moises Congo was one of the winners who is “currently living my dream in Portland. The baseball fields are different, the city is quiet, but the best part is interacting with people outside my city…I want to learn more English, I want to learn everything I can before I head off to college. They given me a scholarship to Lake Erie College in Ohio so I need to improve my English.” Moises will spend the summer playing shortstop on the Pickles team and in the fall he’s heading to Ohio to study graphic design.
The Revenge of the Pickles game will include 500 children from impoverished areas. It’s probably their first time seeing a baseball game, probably the first time in their home stadium. They want to catch Moises’s dream. A dream that has come true, because now they have a role model. It could be a path to success.
BASEBALL LASTS AS LONG AS IT TAKES:
If this is your first time seeing a baseball game in Mazatlan you’ll appreciate Alan Miller’s quote “we loved the energy… these guys get what an event should be. They understand atmosphere. I got hooked. After seeing the Venados I’d go to [another US] game and think, ‘this is so boring.’…we want to bring some of that Venados spirit to Portland. We’re stealing ideas”, he admits. Miller goes on to say “they’ve done a phenomenal job of taking a baseball brand and building it to the point where it represents an entire city. The best teams, from the Pittsburg Steelers to the [Los Angeles] Lakers and so on, they all do that.” You’ll experience the Mexican vibe – enthusiastic vendors yelling/selling beer and snacks and spontaneous entertainment both on the field and in the concession areas. It’s crazy loud, the fans cheer and boo, let’s just say a typical Mexican audience does not hold back.
There are hundreds of players involved in this event and a thousand details – yet Simon Lynds pulls it all together, flawlessly. Alan Millar says: “we could not have accomplished any of this without Simon. We know that Mexico is a different culture and it would be arrogant of us to claim we know how things work in Mazatlan. Simon knows this culture and where the opportunities lie. Even cooler, we share the same ethics and values and that’s not always easy to find in a partner. We are not out to make money, we want to create great events, great stories, and we trust Simon to do that with us.”
I asked Simon how he feels about the upcoming revenge match and he quickly said “the best part for me was when I knew Moises was actually on his way to the airport – knowing he had his entire future ahead of him. I can’t wait for the tryouts and see the faces of these young boys. I also think it’s brilliant we are mixing amateur and professional baseball players; it will add an intensity to the game that wasn’t there before and of course I hope it attracts more tourists from Portland and Texas.” Alan Miller and his partners echo that sentiment – “once you’ve experienced a Venados game you’ll want to be part of our extended family.” As the great Jackie Robinson said, “a life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”