Friday, January 30, 2009

A different perspective

Anyone who reads this knows I am against people playing for a national team just because of their heritage. Especially when they weren't born in that country, or have never set foot in it. Just because your grandparents came from a particular country shouldn't give you special rights. Yeah, the laws might allow you to be a citizen and hold a passport, but that doesn't make you "?".

As I noted earlier, the Italians, while allowing this, haven't exactly figured it out completely, as the Olympic team was ready to boycott the games because of this issue. Now, it seems, they are not the only country with this issue. The Mexicans have some issues with this also, but don't seem to know how to really look at this.

This article just highlights the entire problem I have with hyphenated-Americans. Shouldn't you be one or the other. Yes, I'm calling you out, Alex Rodriguez. I'm not suggesting than any player shouldn't be proud of his heritage, or fail to recognize the birthplace of his ancestors, but you either are or you aren't, in my opinion.

In the 2006 WBC, the results for Mexico were mixed:
Team Mexico's lone Mexican-American was San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez. The team went 3-3 and did not make it out of the second round despite eliminating the United States.It doesn't seem all that bad to me. They eliminated their big rival, and did well with only one major leaguer.

But it wasn't good enough, at least for manager Vinny Castilla. So in order to have a better showing this time around:
This year's provisional 45-man roster boasts nine Mexican-Americans, including Gonzalez, Tampa's Matt Garza, Arizona's Augie Ojeda, Jerry and Scott Hairston along with Toronto catcher Rod Barajas.
So I guess the idea is that in order for Mexico to be competitive, they have to bring in a bunch of hyphenateds. Yeah, I'm making that word up, but it seems to be the best option. However, as much as Vinny wants this, it isn't all paradise south of the border:
Then there's the rivalry that no one really talks about but everyone knows exists between Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. Unofficially, you can call it "Mexicanos vs. Pochos." Officially, you can call it silly and outdated. It's anything but friendly. The entire rivalry is based on heritage and pride. It's also about division and the notion of being a "true Mexican." It seems to be coming to an end, at least in baseball.
It seems to me that there might be a little bit of dissension on the exact makeup of the team. Vinny is talking a good game and trying to say all the right things:
"If they want to play for us and feel they are Mexican because of parents or family, we welcome them," Mexico manager and former Major Leaguer Vinny Castilla said. "They are coming to open arms, and they are still Mexicans to me. They want to represent the country, and they can."
Good politics. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees:
"Mexican-Americans are good to increase the performance level of the team, but they don't have any identification with the other players or the country," said Oscar Sanchez, a sports writer for the Mexican newspaper El Norte in Monterrey. "In soccer, we have a similar discussion with the naturalized players or 'naturalizados,' because many people don't want them on the national team, but the law gives them the right to play as Mexicans."
It would seem that place of birth is the big issue here:
"For too many years people in the sports world, especially in Mexico, have made the mistake of believing that a Mexican-American doesn't count as 'Mexicano' because we were born in the U.S., and honestly, many have been divided on this issue for years," said Adrian Garcia Marquez, a broadcaster for Fox en Español based in Los Angeles. "Others have said they don't consider what they call 'pochos' to be Mexicans because some [Mexican-Americans] can't speak Spanish or speak very little, and they don't respect the heritage. On the contrary, our parents teach us at an early age to be proud of where our family came from and understand that our parents or grandparents came to U.S. to give us a shot at a better life, and better opportunities. So it doesn't matter if two or three generations have lived in the U.S., our cultural heritage is something we hold on to, and cherish."
Some people (in Mexico) will feel it's perfectly acceptable for the hyphens to play, while other won't. If Mexico gets to the final round, or somehow wins it all, then it's a great idea. If they don't:
But tell that to the Mexican fans when Ojeda strikes out or Garza gives up a home run. What happens if a Hairston gets picked off first base? It could get ugly and the term "pocho" will be anything but a compliment.
Issues like this are one of the main reasons why I disagree with players being able to play for more than one country. They want the best of both worlds. They want to be American, but when they aren't the top tier of American players, they want to go play for a country that many of them really have no identify with. And while it's good for the player, I agree that it's not good for that national team. Unless the player is going to play in every international tournament for that country, why does he automatically get a roster spot for a team he has never played for. My personal opinion, you're either one nationality or another. No hyphens allowed. It seems to be the biggest issue with Americans playing for other countries. I haven't seen this being an issue with other countries, but I'm curious if it has.

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