MEXICO CITY — The day before Major League Baseball played its first regular season game here, San Diego Padres pitcher Nick Martinez had an idea. On Friday, when both the San Francisco Giants and Padres were off, he visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe with a few teammates.
On the way to the church, Martinez notices several shops selling piñatas. He bought several in hopes of being smashed by the game’s players after each contest.
“Being in San Diego, Mexican culture is part of our culture,” Martinez said. “And being here in Mexico for this series has given Piñata an opportunity to keep Mexican culture in our clubhouse.”
Padres designated hitter Nelson Cruz struggled to beat the Buzz wearing a sombrero in the colors of the Mexican flag on Saturday at Slugfest, made possible by conditions in Mexico City when the Padres defeated the Giants 16-11. .Lightyear Pinata. His teammates cheered him on while wearing his mask Mexican his lucha his libre his wrestling. After the Padres won his 6-4 victory on Sunday, first baseman Matt Carpenter splattered candy onto the clubhouse floor when he smashed open a star-shaped pinata.
“It was a really short bat,” Cruz later explained of the piñata’s troubles. He finally gave up and tore it apart with his hands. “With a normal bat, it was over in one swing.”
For two days at the Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú, MLB games celebrated Mexico and its love of baseball. The league had previously played regular-season games in Monterrey in 1996, 1999, 2018 and 2019. The exhibition contest has been held in Mexico City in the past, but it was decided to play an important game in the country’s capital. was different.
MLB wanted to make it happen sooner in Mexico City, but the $166 million stadium, which seats 20,000 fans, wasn’t finished until 2019. The facility is home to the Diablos He Rojos of his league, a team owned by Mexican billionaire Alfred Harp Hell. He is also a co-owner of the Padres.
Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the world, more populous (22 million) than New York City (20 million) and 2,000 feet higher than Denver, home of MLB’s Colorado Rockies . sea surface. He’s also the largest North American city in the region to have no franchises in the four major men’s professional sports leagues (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB).
Soccer may be Mexico’s biggest sport, but in certain parts of the country of 127 million people, baseball is especially popular. Given that the Toronto Blue Jays are an all-Canada MLB team, baseball officials and fans have dreamed of the possibility of expanding the franchise in Mexico City.
“It’s going to be a great experience,” said Juan Soto, a Padres star outfielder from the Dominican Republic. “It reminds me of football, where players live their lives moving from city to city.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred praises the outlook for business in Mexico City and the Mexican market as a whole. In the pasthe said recently, “never approached the idea of Mexico as an opportunity for expansion.”
“The assignment is facility-based,” he said last week. “Even the stadium we are playing in this weekend is probably not big enough to be the permanent home of a major league club. There are union issues that have to be negotiated to get
According to Manfred, Mexico’s current goal is to improve MLB’s relationship with existing professional baseball leagues by “vibrating professional play in the country” and “giving star players the opportunity to play.” , was to make this country a North American equivalent to Japan. And play Major League Baseball. He said having more Mexican players in the MLB would help baseball appeal to the large Mexican-American audience in the United States and increase interest in broadcasting to Mexico.
Based on a weekend of games in Mexico City, there was certainly an appetite for sports.The scenes in the stands and on the field reflected a vibrant baseball culture. Tickets for the game sold out quickly in his November. About 20,000 fans attended each game, but it sounded like more.
Mexican food such as micheladas, tacos, aguachiles and churros were sold in large quantities. His band of mariachis performed throughout the game, giving a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch. After the final, hundreds of fans remained outside the stadium, cheering and waving at both teams.
“It was awesome,” said Padres third baseman Manny Machado, whose family is from the Dominican Republic. “What impressed me most was the fans and how passionate they were. And for us Latinos who play with that energy.”
The Padres, the MLB team closest to the Mexican border, put a sombrero on the head of a player who hit the ball over the fence in each of the seven home runs they hit over the weekend. Fernando Tatis Jr. bought it on Friday during a trip to the famous canals of Xochimilco in Mexico City. He was wearing a lucha libre mask given to the team.
“It means a lot,” Tatis said of playing in Mexico City. “It’s a beautiful thing for us Latinos to play in front of people and give a game to kids who wouldn’t normally see us play in the United States.”
According to MLB, about three-quarters of the tickets sold online were purchased in Mexico, with the remainder in the United States, primarily California. Walking through the stands, however, it felt like more Padres fans were visiting from the United States, with some saying they purchased tickets online through secondary market resellers in Mexico.
In the left field bleachers, Felipe Perez, 44, said he met many fans from the United States, as well as several Mexicans who had traveled from all over the country. He took a seven-hour bus ride from the Gulf Coast city of Veracruz on Saturday to reach Mexico City in time for the 4 p.m. game.
All that effort was worth it, Perez said, because he loves baseball. He said in Spanish, “I’m happy. It’s great to watch a big league game here.”
Perez has been waiting for these games. He and his family have bought tickets for his April 2020 series in Mexico City, between the Diamondbacks and the Padres, in a pandemic-erased Arizona. While drinking beer on Saturday, he was amazed at the atmosphere around him.
“Mexicans have a way of enjoying the show and life,” Perez said, as fans stamped their feet for Tatis at the table.
In recent years, baseball in Mexico has improved on the international stage. His MLB roster on opening day of the season had a combined total of 15 Mexican-born players, the highest since 2005. And Mexico’s most powerful fan is its president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who hosted breakfast at El Palacio Nacional on Sunday and, above all, Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman, who made an appearance for the Padres. invited the Sergio Lomo, a reliever who won his three World Series titles with the Giants. and Harp Hell.
Romo, who is Mexican-American, said he doesn’t think the hurdles for Mexico City to become a future MLB home are as big as some might think. He said there is a lot of English spoken in the international hub and there is a lot of tourism and history here.
“I feel that Mexico has a bit of a bad reputation in terms of safety and such,” he said. “But it’s safe here in Mexico. There’s a lot of really cool stuff going on, and there are areas you obviously don’t want to go to in any city. But there are other spots in this place that are very welcoming and open. We have a lot.”
At the very least, regular season games are expected to return to Mexico City. As part of his recent overseas expansion, MLB has expanded his tour of the world to include Japan, Puerto Rico and Australia, with his first game in London in 2019. Under the latest labor deal, MLB and the players’ union will increase regular-season games in London, host some games in Paris in 2025, and from 2023 he will travel to Mexico City every year until 2026. Agreed.
Mexico City’s elevation and grass present players with some ongoing challenges or advantages. On Saturday, the ball soared through thin air, and both teams combined he tallied 11 homers and his 30th. The defender said the ball flew over the ground.
The pitcher said the pitch didn’t move as usual, revealing an even bigger problem than Coors Field in Denver. After running the bases on Saturday, Cruz said he felt short of breath. Padres pitcher Yu Darvish said umpires told him he could call a trainer if the wind was too strong for Sunday’s starter. Giants pitcher Alex Cobb said the team’s training staff provided more fluids and electrolytes to avoid dehydration.
But for a team expected to be in contention for the playoffs and previously struggling, a memorable trip to Mexico City may have been just what the Padres needed.
“I’d like to stay here for another week,” said Machado.