Puerto Rico has an edge not many other colonies or commonwealths have, they get to take a delegation to any major sports event including the Olympics even though they are a part of the United States. A right reserved for autonomous countries, Puerto Ricans became the exception to the rule because the USA gave them permission to pretend they were one until the status issue created by the Hispanic American war was cleared. Today, 119 years later, it hasn’t been resolved. Thus the 3/22 Championship game took on a new meaning: Colony vs Empire.
For the USA fans, Puerto Rico is there thanks to their magnanimity, for letting them have a team in the first place as if talent and hard work didn’t matter to qualify or be invited. The reason Puerto Ricans are so invested in this game is to prove to the “motherland” that they are a force to be reckoned with, not just pawns in a game of world domination. Team Rubio, which is ironically the Boricuas with bleached blonde hair, are an unstopable machine. They are fueled by Yadiel Molina who felt he owed both his team and Japan a win because of their loss to Dominican Republic in 2013, and an all star cast including the Cubs’ Javier Báez, closer Edwin Díaz from the Mariners and Carlos Correa, the short stop from the Astros. Even with these All Stars Team Murica is not impressed nor scared. Tsk tsk. Amazingly, many fans don’t even care that the USA is in the finals even though it is the first time ever they get this far because they are following spring training. America’s pastime is now an international affair and we will have a true World Champion.
What is amazing, and can be off putting, about the Classic is that most of the players on each team are major leaguers. Team USA usually fares poorly because their best MLBers are Latin American or Japanese. Fans who root against each other every season get to root together as their team faces other national delegations. It becomes a grand affair that sadly has not caught on stateside. Maybe today’s game improves engagement from the sport’s inventors. It sure has improved conditions in the Island, as even crime halted so people could enjoy the rush of winning, of having a team that has an undefeated record. Impressive how a ball, a bat and a glove can unite and inspire millions to dream bigger.
If Puerto Rico wins, expect the All Star Island to celebrate in grand style. Forget the fireworks reserved for home wins, Dodger Stadium and the world will get a dose of pleneras, run and music like they have never seen before. It would be an ego boost, a validation that the empire isn’t always the best and can be beaten or taken down by a small group of rebels. However, if USA wins, the hope is that sportsmanship can teach a lesson to the fans who have thrown insults, slurs and lots of ignorant quips to the Boricuas who are US Citizens and loyal subjects. We need to figure out the status and autonomy clashes so events like the Championship game can gain a new cultural and historical meaning. A country divided will fall, and as long as we keep making it about us vs them the USA will never grow as a nation.
Go Team Rubio! Show the Big Cheese how it is done. 😉