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World Association of International Studies

Post re: Baseball's World Series (Sasha Pack, US)
Created by John Eipper on 10/26/06 7:55 AM - re-baseballs-world-series-sasha-pack-us

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re: Baseball's World Series (Sasha Pack, US) (John Eipper, USA, 10/26/06 7:55 am)

Sasha Pack writes:

As I write (25 October), the Cardinals and Tigers are in a rain delay.
JE's comment on the World Series inspires me to put forth a couple of
disconnected thoughts. First, as a recent transplant to Buffalo, NY, I
find myself naturally favoring the Tigers, who represent a much larger and
even more blighted post-industrial city of the Eastern Great Lakes region
than mine.
The American sporting universe regards them as the classic "Cinderella"--
from a downtrodden city, having posted 119 losses only a couple seasons
ago (out of 162 games: for the uninitiated, I believe the most ever in
Major-League Baseball's bottomless pit of record keeping) and this year earning a playoff spot and dominating, among others, the $100
million-a-year NY Yankees.
Yet with all of the attention on Detroit, St. Louis supporters, whose team

posted a mediocre record with which they eked into the playoffs with a bit
of luck, have been asserting their own underdog status. Ratings may be
low, but how perfectly American it is that in the early part of the series
the two teams--or at least their boosters and self-appointed
spokesmen--should seem to be competing for the prestigious status of
Then there is another issue which RH or JE or another Hispanist might
illuminate for me. The best player in the Series is Albert Pujols. To
those who do not follow baseball, the name might signal Catalan politician
sooner than St. Louis first baseman. TV announcers are studiously respectful of the Spanish "j", pronouncing it as an aspirated
English "h". Yet, somewhat ironically, in Catalan, this name would be
pronounced with a hard "j", closer in fact to the way an American TV
announcer might want to pronounce it if he weren't being so careful.
I presume that in the Dominican Republic, where Pujols was born, any
vestige of Catalan pronunciation disappeared long ago and his family long
has pronounced the name in the Castilian manner. (As for his first name:
he has presumably anglicized "Alberto", rendering it "Albert", as would be
used in Catalonia.)
It occurs to me to ask: What happened to the Catalan names in the New
World? It seems to me, purely from unscientific observation, that one
finds many more Basque than Catalan names among Latin Americans. Catalan
investors were present in the Spanish Caribbean in the 19th century
(notably the Bacardi family), and owned plantations with slaves (though
they had been prohibited from earlier settlements). Were the names
Castilianized beyond recognition, or did Catalans simply not leave a major
demographic imprint?

JE comments: Sasha Pack has touched on two topics close to my heart: Latin America and the Detroit Tigers. St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols has
a Catalan surname, though I am unaware of how he actually pronounces it. The tactless on-line "Urban Dictionary" suggests to the Anglophone: "Pooh
Holes." Albert's near-namesake Jordi Pujol would be horrified! The
Catalan legacy in the Dominican Republic has certainly left its mark on
baseball: Besides Pujols, I am thinking of pitching legend Juan Marichal
(a Catalan surname? I believe so), as well as the mighty Alou dynasty.

The Tigers' 119 losses in 2003 is an American-League record only. The
abysmal 1962 NY Mets lost 120.

For information about the World Association of International Studies
(WAIS), and its online publication, the World Affairs Report, read its
homepage by simply double-clicking on: http://wais.stanford.edu/

John Eipper, Editor-in-Chief, Adrian College, MI 49221 USA

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