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Perseverance Plays Role For Baseball and Puerto Rico

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 30 January 2018 · 1,062 views

minnesota twins cleveland indians francisco lindor jose berrios
After narrowly missing the bulk of Hurricane Irma's effects, Puerto Rico will look back on Wednesday September 20, 2017 as a day it won't soon forget. Hurricane Maria makes landfall and demolishes the small island. A place that has become a growing epicenter for baseball talent, and set to host a Major League Baseball series in 2018, was simply devastated. This isn't a tale of the destruction however, but instead a look at the resolve of each part involved.

Early in January 2018, Major League Baseball officially announced that the two game series (April 17th and 18th) between the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins will still take place. Hiram Bithorn Stadium, the site for the contests, was badly damaged during both hurricanes Irma and Maria. While the island itself remains the focus, it is the stadium that was set to house baseball for what was destined to be a great moment for the sport. As the weather interrupted, there was a serious doubt cast upon what was next for baseball's plans.
As did the people of Puerto Rico, the Minnesota Twins persevered and continued from the onset to suggest that the games would go on as scheduled.

For both the Indians and the Twins, Puerto Rico holds a special place among the 25 man roster and the organization as a whole. For the Indians, Francisco Lindor hails from the small island, and is a great friend of Twins star Jose Berrios. Cleveland's backup catcher Roberto Perez calls Puerto Rico home, while Eddie Rosario and Kennys Vargas also represent Puerto Rico in Minnesota. The influx of talent into Major League Baseball hailing from the small island has truly been a joy to watch. Minnesota has been especially keen on developing the island as they've continued to use top draft picks on natives such as Jose Miranda and Ricardo de la Torre.

Looking across the sport, some of the biggest names accelerating the game forward hail from Puerto Rico. Including Lindor and Berrios, it's also hard to overlook World Champions Carlos Correa and Javier Baez. Seattle Mariners closer Edwin Diaz also has burst onto the scene, and has represented his homeland incredibly well. Although their elder, Yadier Molina has also been a leader for quite some time. There's a relative brotherhood tying each of them together, and it's obvious that there's a pride in being able to represent Puerto Rico at the highest level.

In getting to know the Minnesota Twins Jose Berrios from afar over the past few seasons, seeing the passion for the place he calls home is truly special. From highlighting his beach workouts, to giving back through charity events with Baez and Lindor, or playing in events put on by Molina, there's no end to the pride and generosity. For Berrios, playing a series of games back home in the wake of a tragedy that was trying on multiple levels, will certainly be a joy.

Sports have often tried to transcend the United States, and expand their borders. While it's not easy to get behind the NFL playing games in London or the NBA in Mexico City, Major League Baseball in Puerto Rico seems like a match made in heaven. The island has continued to foster the sport, and the excitement for the big leagues that starts at such a young age their may be unrivaled. Allowing two teams with young stars so prolific among the Puerto Rican community to put their island on display was heartwarming even before the tragic events caused by two massive storms.
While the island is still grieving and looking to get back to its former self, baseball may be able to provide a small sense of healing. Jose Berrios' aunt Maria recently noted on Twitter that she just received power. This came 147 days after Hurricane Irma made landfall. She goes on to note that 40% of the island still remains without power, and there's still significant rebuilding to be done. Hiram Bithorn Stadium's improvements and reconstruction done in advance of the Twins and Indians series is such a small blip on the radar, but the healing provided by what takes place there can be an impactful step in the right direction.

Puerto Rico isn't yet distanced from two storms that rocked the island to its core, and it will continue to take time and hard work in order to restore a previous sense of completeness. That being said, the island of Puerto Rico has persevered, Major League Baseball stayed its course, and the healing from a sport could be an integral part in helping the amazing territory to move forward.

For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz




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theBOMisthebomb
Jan 31 2018 11:21 AM
This felt like a public service announcement from the Puerto Rico division of tourism.
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Ted Schwerzler
Jan 31 2018 11:23 AM

 

This felt like a public service announcement from the Puerto Rico division of tourism.

I really enjoy that the Twins have cultivated young talent from PR and think it's really cool that MLB made an effort to make sure the series still gets played. Sorry you felt that way.

theBOMisthebomb - I probably would have made the same comment when I was younger...However, after growing up in Minnesota and moving to Puerto Rico for work, my experience has been that it is nearly impossible to meet bigger baseball fans than you find in Puerto Rico.Having the Twins-Indians series is a massive deal here...However, I think MLB screwed up on two fronts - they didn't reserve tickets for the teams' fans and ticket prices are high - $75/ticket is pretty steep anywhere for an early-season game (or any regular season game) especially for a territory that has per capita income almost 60% below the US and just got hit by two devastating hurricanes.

 

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Ted Schwerzler
Feb 03 2018 08:03 AM

theBOMisthebomb - I probably would have made the same comment when I was younger...However, after growing up in Minnesota and moving to Puerto Rico for work, my experience has been that it is nearly impossible to meet bigger baseball fans than you find in Puerto Rico.Having the Twins-Indians series is a massive deal here...However, I think MLB screwed up on two fronts - they didn't reserve tickets for the teams' fans and ticket prices are high - $75/ticket is pretty steep anywhere for an early-season game (or any regular season game) especially for a territory that has per capita income almost 60% below the US and just got hit by two devastating hurricanes.


I didn’t realize the ticket situation, that’s really too bad. Would’ve liked to see very low get in prices, and now with the opportunity, a portion of sales given to recovery efforts.

The one saving grace is pretty much all the seats at the stadium are good ones - I've been to a bunch of winter league games at the stadium... 

 

I have a friend who works for the Twins front office and the Twins don't even get an allocation of tickets - I was hoping I could get hooked up so I could give some tickets to some friends who are huge baseball fans, but can't afford the tickets, but no dice...