Four Puerto Rican Gladiators To Be Honored This Wednesday • Latino Sports

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Four Puerto Rican Gladiators To Be Honored This Wednesday

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New York, NY – “GLADIATORS” That is what the members of team Puerto Rico in the recent 2017 World Baseball Classic are referred to by many Boricua millenials.

WHY?

Like in the movie “300” a 2006 epic war film retelling the Battle of Thermopylae within the Persian Wars where King Leonidas leads 300 Spartan gladiators against the Persian “god-king” Xerxes and his invading army of more than 300,000 many Puerto Rican’s relate their team to this epic battle.

All of this is somewhat foreign to many non-Puerto Ricans who just saw the World Baseball Classic (WBC) as baseball games between different countries. They were and still are oblivious to the serious economic and political situation presently taking place in Puerto Rico with a debt of $72 Billion that they cannot pay. A debt basically caused by Wall Street speculators, international banks and Vulture Funds that have seen Puerto Rico as a cash cow.

Since mid 2016 island leaders had been appealing to Washington for help, like states usually do when the state cannot resolve a problem. Congress could not help and referred the island to the U.S. Supreme Court who defined it best: Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory that has U.S. citizenship, but not all the rights of stateside U.S. citizens, in other words, a U.S. Colony. Thus Puerto Rico unlike Detroit could not declare bankruptcy.

This has resulted in draconian measures in Puerto Rico that has stunned and ripped through the souls of the majority of an island where the median household income is about $19,000 — half that of Mississippi (the poorest U.S. State).

Across Puerto Rico, health clinics are closing, and at least four hospitals have filed for bankruptcy. They have closed 184 public schools, thousands of municipal workers were laid off and the unemployment rate hovers around 14%. Approximately one doctor a day is leaving the island and several hundred families a month are also leaving to find better opportunities on the mainland.

3 mets

Seth Lugo, Rene Rivera & TJ Rivera, 3 Puerto Rican gladiators to be honored this Wednesday. (Photo Latinosports.com

Therefore, in the month of March when the WBC games were beginning to get underway Puerto Ricans on the island felt like if they too were being attacked from all sides by a powerful invading army of blood sucking parasites with no help in sight. The psyche of the island nation was being affected and the moral of a usually warm and happy islander was turning as the stress of survival and loss of hope was taking hold

Then Puerto Rico begins to recruit some of the best Puerto Rican baseball players to represent Team Puerto Rico in a World Stage. Some players were already known in the majors like Yadier Molina, of the St Louis Cardinals, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Correa (who was overall #1 draft pick in 2012) of the Houston Astros. Rising stars like, Francisco Lindor of the Cleveland Indians and Javier Báez of the Chicago Cubs who both gained notoriety playing in the 2016 World Series were also recruited.

They were also joined by stellar players who might not have received the same ESPN coverage, but who were the backbone of a team that became the gladiators like in the movie 300 who went out to defend their island. Players like Angel Pagan who was released by San Francisco. New York Mets players Rene Rivera and two stellar players that were in the Mets minor leagues and blossomed in the classic, TJ Rivera and Seth Lugo both stateside born, but qualified to represent their homeland. These and the remaining 26 players were like those gladiators in the movie 300 who volunteered to go out and face an army of 300,000.

This excitement & pride was felt by every Puerto Rican. (Stock Photo Latinosports.com)

This excitement & pride was felt by every Puerto Rican. (Stock Photo Latinosports.com)

Then like a magic the games gave Puerto Rico a much-needed positive distraction. It provided much pride and entertainment watching every game and the many spectacular plays and games where Puerto Rico was considered the underdog. Every victory gave Puerto Rican’s watching a sense of pride that had superseded the depressive crisis and local politics. There were no factions, or political affiliations, it was like the team, one united Puerto Rico rooting for their heroes. Not one fatality, or major crime committed during the World Classic Games speaks enough to the depth those games meant to the island.

Like history and the movie showed, the 300 gladiators did not win, but they gave the invading Persian army of 300,000 a fight that has lived on in history. I, and many Puerto Ricans believe though our Team Puerto Rico did not win, they gave us much more than a win for the Gold Medal. NY Mets pitcher, Seth Lugo stated it best in our recent interview, “we were playing for more than gold.”

As such, Latino Sports is honoring every player and their manager, Edwin Rodríguez, as the gladiator they were that took on some of the best teams in the world and made us all proud. A team that went undefeated 7-0 until the finals losing to the U.S. team. However, while they played they gave the 3.4 million Puerto Ricans on the island a relief, a sense of hope that helped many and still makes us all proud of what was achieved. They showed all Puerto Ricans including the 5.5 million in the states of what can be achieved when there is unity and hope.

This Wednesday we are honoring the first four players: TJ Rivera, Rene Rivera, Seth Lugo and Yadier Molina.

 

 

About Julio Pabón

Julio is President and Founder of Latino Sports LLC., the parent company of Latinosports.com. Julio is a product of the South Bronx where he still lives and runs his businesses. Julio has written and has been interviewed for numerous publication and networks on sports & political issues. He has been an activist promoting social justice and respect for all communities. He is a recognized motivational speaker, was an adjunct professor of American History and presently volunteer's as a lecturer in local South Bronx High Schools. His primary goal is to make Latinosports.com a multi-facet sports portal that will engender social and economic empowerment to the Latino community.

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