Just as The Tigers have recently found their home atop the American League Central standings, I too find myself becoming more and more accustomed to the large metropolis that is Sao Paulo, Brazil. With a skyline robust with buildings and city streets boasting some of the finest coffee and baked breads that I have ever known, I am living a summer unlike any other in my life and I am enjoying every minute of it.
In the classroom there is a mutual learning taking place. My students are learning the basics of American grammar and culture while they teach me ample amounts of Portuguese (it is still VERY rough) and how to live the Brazilian lifestyle. A way of life that accentuates personality through unique clothing, deep-fried foods, and long commutes to and from work.
I have been keeping a keen eye while walking the city streets for any signs of baseball-related apparel or merchandise. Until yesterday during a trip to a nearby village, Embu, I had not seen much of anything at all. Embu boasts the largest Flea Market in the Sao Paulo Metropolitan area and with its live music and intricate wood workings, I found it to be a very entertaining adventure.
While in Embu, I noticed an unusually high amount of New York Yankees apparel. It’s not uncommon to see a man or two sporting a worn out Yanks cap on a given day, but in this case there were whole families sporting hats and shirts, and in one case a pair of socks with a large NY symbol on them. I searched in my mind for the answer; most of these people looked to be quite poor and perhaps some were even homeless, and I knew they couldn’t have afforded to have these items shipped to them.
Finally, I passed a man wearing a cap that said "2001 World Series Champions New York Yankees" and it hit me like a ton of bricks. The Yankees lost the 2001 World Series on a walk-off hit by Luis Gonzalez. They were heavily favored and their loss was considered a major upset. You often hear stories about organizations and clothing companies producing massive amounts of merchandise in preparation for a team's possible victory, only to see the team lose and ship off the merchandise at heavily discounted prices to whomever will accept them. This was one of those cases.
Basically, the entire village of Embu is donning Yankees gear and they haven’t the slightest idea who the New York Yankees are, what baseball is, or that their shirts celebrate an event that never actually happened. Truthfully, even if they knew all of this, I doubt they would really care.