By RICARDO CASTILLO
Play ball, heckling politics and eat “cochinita” tacos!!!
Over 20,000 Mexico City baseball fans on Saturday, March 23, made the trek to the revamped stadium located at Magdalena Mixchuca Sports City in eastern Mexico City. The objective of getting there was threefold, the most important incentive being to watch President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) make the ceremonial first pitch to initiate the Mexican Baseball League’s summer season.
The game of the day was between the AAA local ball team Diablos Rojos against the youth forces of the AAAA San Diego Padres, who trounced the Devils 11-2 in full nine innings of play.
Fans also went in order to see firsthand the new “Alfredo Harp Helú” stadium and many went to stuff themselves with the both luscious and delicious Yucatan delicacy, cochinita (little female hog) pibil tacos, which makes baseball at the Diablos Rojos (Red Devils) particularly “sabroso” since Mexican fans prefer this dish to the traditional U.S. favorite baseball hot dogs.
The noisiest segment of the day, however, came at the beginning of the game, as part of the crowd when wild when AMLO made the first pitch and then proceeded to the microphone. The disgruntled heckling began immediately, and the president was paying attention, because right from the start he had made it known that he was going to be brief in his speechmaking.
“I’m not going to talk a lot because there are here cheerleading members of the fifi (elegant) team,” he said, “but the majority of the people present are in favor of a change and love the king of sports, baseball.”
As the heckling got louder, AMLO thanked banker, tycoon and ballpark concessionaire Alfredo Harp Helú for having invited him to deliver the symbolic first pitch of the season. But López Obrador couldn’t help but get back into his politic frame and beginning hushing the hecklers as much as he could, using his own peculiar lingo of his native Tabasco — including throwing his own curve “pejemoña,” (a combination of the word “peje,” which means lizard fish, and a swerving pitch), which, he claims, strikes all political opponents out.
“I’m going to keep pitching at you mostly pejemoñas,” he said. “I’m going to keep controlling batters with my straight no-curve balls and my 95-mile-an-hour fast curve ball. We’re going to keep striking out those in the power mafia that controlled the nation.”
Needless to say, the heckling got louder, but the president was right about one thing: Not everyone was booing him.
The total length of his speech; 2 minutes 55 seconds, possibly his shortest since he became president of Mexico last December.
AMLO wore the Diablos Rojos’ signature red jersey, which read “Mexico,” while those of the players, including owner Harp Helú, read “Diablos Rojos.”
Accompanying AMLO were Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum and National Sports Commissioner and Olympic 400-meters runner and medalist Ana Gabriela Guevara, who also got heckled.
The question now is: Who sent the hecklers to the ball game?
Regarding the cochinita pibil tacos, an Animal Político webpage said that throngs of “Diablos Rojos” fans went to buy tacos and many stood in line for over two hours, missing most of the game, which, by the way, was a mismatch from beginning to end.
In terms of attending sports events, however, AMLO should have known that all politicians are vulnerable at bullfights, baseball and soccer matches. As a former Mexican sports writer, I’ve seen crowds nearly drive politicians out of an event. It is indeed an error for a politician to go to stadiums, but AMLO just can’t hide his love for baseball. He’s even said he was once a mayor league prospect.
The ball game really was AMLO’s first strike out of the season, at least, in the eyes of many observers.