Thursday, March 23, 2017

Biggest lesson from the World Baseball Classic

If you are Puerto Rican, today isn’t necessarily the greatest day for you. That’s because last night we lost in the World Baseball Classic against the US. Although I’ve already written about this in Spanish, there are some more things I’d like to say and in English to offer a bit more perspective to people all around the world.

One of the things that identifies Puerto Ricans is being loud and proud. A lot of people ask me why are Puerto Ricans so in your face about where they’re from and I can guess a couple of reasons. First off, we’re a tiny Island in the Caribbean, which means a lot of people, and I mean a LOT of people not only don’t know where we’re from, but write us off. Some people do so because they don’t know who or where we’re from, but in regards to some people from the states, the reality is a little harsher.

Seeing the reactions after the first game between Puerto Rico and the US, the sentiment is clear:

We are owned by the US and shouldn’t even be representing Puerto Rico

We should show more respect because after all, we are a US territory

If it weren’t for the US, Puerto Rico would be nothing but a rock in the Caribbean

And so on. You get the gist.

So that’s why losing last night hurt twice as much. For the US, it’s another trophy for an already crowded mantel. It’s bragging rights. It’s the way it "should" be, even if the game really didn’t matter much to them in comparison (it mattered but for different reasons).

For Puerto Rico, it was a game that brought the country together, that gave the Island some dearly needed good news and even hope, it put us on the world stage once again, even if we’re small. For a few days, people celebrated, chanted, did silly things like dye their hair blonde, and we were having a good time, something we’re well known for but also something that’s kind of been lost during the last couple of years.

But in hindsight, it also showed clearly what identifies Puerto Rico versus the US.

The US thrives on determination, grit, anger, and even revenge. They're tough and they hated losing to Puerto Rico and had a chip on their shoulder. Their star pitcher was given grief because he’s from Puerto Rican descent and still played for the US, a decision that we should all respect, as well as his skills and an amazing game he pitched  last night. There were celebrations organized for the Puerto Rico team and the US used that as fuel for their fire… they were angry, they felt disrespected, and that’s what fueled their win.

On the other hand, Puerto Rico played great in the tournament and were the team to watch because they were having the time of their lives and having fun. Every single game they brought that carefree attitude, they came out with the W. That’s because Puerto Ricans excel when they are happy. It’s not to say we can’t overcome, or we can’t dig deep when things are bad. We can, it’s just that when joy is the game, no one can beat us. By all means, check out the highlights for all the teams and then check Puerto Rico’s. The energy, the joy, the excitement they brought was something else and they played fun. Last night, I didn't feel that joy and I'm sure a lot of other people didn't as well.

Which is the point. Puerto Ricans by excellence excel when they are happy and for some time now, the Island has lost its spark a bit. This team rekindled that joyous fire and definitely served as a wonderful reminder to all Puerto Ricans and the world at large: joy can bring people together, can lower crime, can make you dance and smile, and we need more joy in the world.

So ask yourself, what have you done lately to bring joy to the world? Or is it that you’re just focused on winning the game?

#WinningIsntEverything #ProudOfOurTeam #StillChampions #TeamRubio

Peace, love, and maki rolls

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