August 20, 1999
For the second time this season,
a bull's life was spared, last Sunday in Plaza El Toreo de Tijuana.
As the card wasn't particularly attractive, it drew a light crowd. Alfredo Lomelí, Rafael Ortega, and Spanish Matador Domingo López Chávez faced a handsome herd of bulls from José Julian Llaguno. It was billed as a competition between Mexico and Spain. But, with two Mexicans and one Spaniard, it wasn't a fair contest. The Spaniard gave a total bath to the Mexicans.
The bulls of J.J. Llaguno were exceptionally well-presented. Blacks and cárdenos oscuros, they weighed from 465 to 515 kilos. Ortega and López Chávez received the best of the lot, while those falling to Lomelí presented problems, which he effectively overcame.
The matador from Guadalajara opened with good Verónicas Sevillanas to Talachero, a 480 kilo animal. Lomelí gave it a very nice faena, to both sides, demonstrating elegance and artistry. But, four entries with the sword denied the ear that he would have earned. He was applauded.
His second bull, the 500-kilo Ratero, had a short charge and a defensive attitude. Nevertheless, Lomelí handled it well, giving a decent faena that culminated in two entries. He was, again, applauded.
A few years ago, I was very enthusiastic about the matador from Tlascala. But, in recent seasons, his potential brilliance has been tarnished, at least along frontiers. He has had excellent afternoons in the interiors, but he is obviously disdainful of Tijuana.
With his first bull, a fine cárdeno oscuro, weighing 470 kilos, Ortega stunk up the plaza. With no emotion, either with cape or muleta, he just went through the motions. In his faena, he gave lots of muletazos, but there wasn't a clean pass in the entire act. With the sword, Ortega bailed out on each entry, and was soundly and correctly boo'ed by the crowd, while the bull was strongly applauded as it exited the arena. Lástima de toro!
It was almost the same story with his second bull. At least, the matador seemed a bit more inspired. But, his Verónicas were terrible, as he lost ground on each. He did give a decent set of Chicuelinas. Ortega placed banderillas well, but certainly without the finesse of a yesteryear, when he had threatened to become a genuine figura. With the muleta, he resorted to pure border tremendismo. He did, however, place a great sword, for which he was awarded an otherwise underserved ear.
The story of the Spaniard revealed an unfortunate, but obvious, truth. In Spain, he is only a second category matador. Nevertheless, he demonstrated that, with the possible exception of Eloy Cavazos, there is no Mexican matador who can compete with even a second class Spaniard.
His first bull was Cacero, an excellent, dark gray animal, to which Chávez opened with three, very slow, kneeling largas cambiadas. He followed up with excellent Verónicas. After two, light pics, the matador gave a nice set of Chicuelinas.
The faena that followed was pure poetry in motion. Indeed, he included enough tremendismo to thrill the sunny side crowd, but at the same time, he gave series after series of wonderful muletazos. He totally dominated the bull, which charged with great bravery and enormous nobility. In all, he may have given 150 passes to Cacero. At the end, the crowd petitioned for the indulto, while the matador and Judge Jaime Gonzalez engaged in a silent debate. Gonzalez said no to the indulto. So, the Spaniard continued to perform, far exceeding the time limit in which avisos should have sounded. The bull kept getting better, as López Chávez kept giving tandas of naturales.
Finally Gonzalez relented and granted the life-sparing indulto. The matador, who should have then killed symbolically, instead led the bull from the ring and to a bright future as a seed animal.
Was the Spaniard's performance truly that outstanding? Yes! Was the bull a wonderful example of bravery and nobility? Absolutely! Was the indulto deserved? Sadly, no, for Cacero received only two light pics, instead of the three strong pics that are the first consideration for the indulto.
With the last bull of the afternoon, the 20-year-old Spaniard didn't knock himself out, but he gave a good performance that earned him still another ear. This is a torero that I want to see, again.
This coming Sunday, a herd form Jaral De Peñas will be presented to Maurício Portillo, Paco Gonzales, and the sensational, young Mexican Jerónimo, who made such an impresive Tijuana debut, July 4.
Everybody wants to see this brillian torero, again, so a large crowd is anticipated.
On Aug. 10, in Huesca, Spain, Enrique Ponce and Raúl Garcia "El Tato" each cut one ear, while El Juli took two ears from his first bull, and ears and tail from his second.
On the mend are Matador Miguél Rodriguez, who was gored in La Coruña, receiving wounds of 12 and 18 centimeters, with great damage to the scrotum; Novillero Alfonso Casada, who suffered a goring in the thigh; banderilero José Manuel Hernandez, who was gravely gored in Mallorca; and José Garcia "El Doctor", whose rectum was destroyed, in Sevilla.
Meanwhile, on July 22, in Vic-Ferenzac, Picador Victoriano Martin was killed, when his horse was overthrown and fell upon the torero, crushing him.
Spanish Matador Juan Bienvenida died, May 30, in Madrid. He was one of five sons of the great Manuel Mejias "Papa Negro" Bienvenida.