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Latino Baseball Players Talk About The Culture Clash They Experience Playing For MLB

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Baseball may be America’s pastime, but the sport now has deep roots in several Latin American countries. Latinos have always been part of baseball, but there’s been a noticeable surge of Latino players in recent years. This season alone broke records: according to the Major League Baseball, 29.8% of players were born outside the 50 states, and the majority of them are Latinos. The Dominican Republic has more players in MLB more than any other country, leading with 93 players. Venezuela is second with 77 players and Cuba is third with 23 players. Aside from the baseball culture change, there’s also room for growth when it comes to understanding Latinos. In fact, sports media and others within the industry have started to learn Spanish in order to fully grasp the identity of the players and be sensitive towards their needs.

ESPN did something pretty awesome to cover this cultural shift. The network profiled 50 Latino MLB players and asked them their thoughts on a variety of topics about their lives on and off the field. It’s astonishing that they can be so focused on their job while balancing their new lives in the United States.

Here are some highlights from the ESPN feature story, but make sure to check out the full piece on ESPN.com.

Carlos González of the Colorado Rockies talked about the flair Latinos bring to baseball:

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“Maybe for guys from Cuba and the Dominican Republic, there’s a larger difference because they put more flair into the way they play, and they come to the United States and people don’t really like that. You see a lot of issues with guys like [Yoenis] Céspedes or [Yasiel] Puig, when they’re celebrating. However, that’s the only way they know, and I get it. Everyone comes from different situations, so you have to be open-minded. You’ve got to understand why they do that kind of stuff. You can’t just judge people because of the way they play.”

Brayan Peña of the Kansas City Royals talked about balancing his family life:

“I defected when I was 16. Here, if you play hard and you do the right thing, you have an opportunity to show your talent. In Cuba, if you play hard and you do the right thing, you’re not going anywhere. If the Cuban government doesn’t like the way you act or the way you think, it doesn’t matter how much talent you have. That’s why a lot of us made those tough decisions to defect and leave our friends and families behind. We want to follow a dream. America gives us that dream.”

Carlos Gómez of the Texas Rangers revealed how much he misses his family:

Mis cachorro son loco con su Papiii los amos ❤️ mi fuerza ??YYY??CGGCYYY❤️??????????????

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“It’s tough to have the life of a baseball player. I feel lonely without [my family]. Previously, my oldest son started the school year in the States and ended it in the Dominican. I didn’t want to do it that way this year since he would have to separate himself from his teachers and friends. I don’t think it’s healthy for him. So I better sacrifice myself so they can be normal kids.”

Óliver Pérez of the Washington Nationals talked about the language barrier:

#OliverPerez es entrevistado en el día previo al inicio de la #SerieDelCaribe foto:Luis Gutierrez /NortePhoto.com

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“When I came here at 17, I didn’t even know how to say ‘No. 1.’ It was hard to go get something to eat, to understand play instructions. I listened to English all day long without actually understanding it. But there’s no language on the field. It’s just baseball, and that’s something you understand.”

Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers talked about identity and politics:

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“[Immigration] is an important topic that’s talked about in the clubhouses, in homes, in the streets. I hope that, like all politicians who never go through with what they say on their campaign, [President Donald Trump] doesn’t go through with it [his threats to deport undocumented immigrants]. I feel the fears of a lot of people. That does affect me, not what one person says, but what so many suffer, especially if they are Latinos.”

Carlos Santana of the Cleveland Indians talked about what he did with one of his first bonus checks:

Siempre está en mi corazón mami I love you mami ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

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“If you look at all players, especially Dominicans, when they get to the MLB and they get a good bonus, the first thing they do is secure a house for their moms. We Dominicans believe in this. Mom ate bones; now she has to eat dough.”

Nelson Cruz of the Seattle Mariners explained how Latino players dealt with being away from home cooking:

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“On road trips, teams gave us meal money, which was like $20. To help each other, let’s say we were six or eight Latinos, we collected our money and we bought groceries collectively. We got chicken and rice. We had an electric skillet for rice, and we had a pan for the meat. It was forbidden to cook inside the hotel, so we had to avoid having the smoke from our cooking get to the smoke detectors. We cooked in there and we saved ourselves a ton of money. If each of us contributed $20, we did a good grocery shopping trip and it lasted for the four to eight days of the road trip.”

There’s so much more insight in ESPN’s piece, so make sure you check it out.

READ: This Is Why I Don’t See Baseball As A “White Sport” Anymore

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If You Actually Care About Your Novia, Here's Some Ways You Can Prove It

bad hombres

If You Actually Care About Your Novia, Here’s Some Ways You Can Prove It

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You don’t have to be married in order for the expression “Happy wife, happy life” to relate to you. As is the case in every kind of partnership, the success of your relationship depends heavily on the effort put into maintaining the team’s morale. So, here’s a list of ways that you can go the extra mile and become a better teammate to your novia.

When she wants to unload some spicy chisme, let her… no matter how long it takes.

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Even if you don’t care, and you won’t, because you don’t even know the people she’s dishing on. Just smile politely and nod. Occasionally pay attention and read her vibe, so you can pretend to aggressively take her side in a way that shows her you’re listening and that you got her back.

Surprise her with things that only you know she loves.

The Mask Of Zorro / Sony Pictures

If you know she likes comics, surprise her with a graphic novel. Send her favorite flowers to her work for no reason. If she likes to travel, pack her bags and book a trip to somewhere you know she’ll love.

Compliment her intelligence as often as her beauty.

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Remind her that she’s at least a triple threat. Tell her she’s beautiful, but also brilliant, and the very model of modern-day womanhood.

If she makes herself look silly in public, join her in looking ridiculous.

I Love Lucy / CBS

You’ve been there before, so you know how much she’ll appreciate you standing by her when she’s looking foolish. One person looking silly alone is odd, but two people being confidently ridiculous is a demonstration of solidarity that moves through the room like a choreographed dance in clown shoes.

When she asks you something that requires a delicate answer, chew on your words a while before answering so you can respond sensitively.

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Unless it’s definitely your hill to die on, weigh the pros and cons carefully. What she’ll probably consider the wrong answer here might float if you take the time to fully form your argument and then phrase it exactly right.

If she ever admits that she was wrong about something, forgive her right away.

Modern Family / ABC

You know how hard it can be to admit when you’re wrong, so take any “W” with class. Show her your capacity for compassion by demonstrating your ability to accept her when she’s made a mistake.

Pay close attention to her emotional needs…

Colombiana / Sony Pictures

Women experience a whole range of emotions even when it isn’t that time of the month. Tend to her feelings by asking if she needs anything by checking in with her about her day. Go next level by putting on a Lifetime movie and sharing a real cry with her.

…As well as her needs in the bedroom.

Nacho Libre / Paramount Pictures

Sex is a team sport, so if you both don’t win, you lose. Being an attentive lover is paramount in learning what she likes and how to satisfy her. Luckily, it’s often the thought that counts, so your eagerness to please her will go a long way. Also, it’s not just a sexual thing, spoon with her at least until your arm falls asleep, dude.

Like you, the easiest way to her heart is through her stomach… because they get hangry af.

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Women and men are a lot alike. Satisfy her appetite and you’ll win her over before the food coma hits.

But remember, a relationship is give and take, so she’ll need to be there for you in all the ways you’re there for her.

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If your novia isn’t reciprocating your efforts, let her know. It’s your responsibility to be honest with each other, so don’t be afraid to open up and be clear about what you need from her.

Teamwork makes the dream work, and the only ship worth a damn is a relationship or whatever. Am I right?!

READ: What If Your Girlfriend’s Bedroom Habits Are Slowly Killing You?

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