Former Dodger Ismael Valdez wants an MLB team in Mexico; could this weekend be a preview?

first_img Dodgers’ Dave Roberts says baseball’s unwritten rules ‘have changed, should change’ Whicker: Dustin May yet another example of the Dodgers’ eye for pitching Times have changed. Regular-season games have been played in Asia and Australia, where the logistics of travel make expansion all but impossible.This weekend will be the first of six regular-season series that the league plans to stage in Mexico over the next four seasons. If that’s enough to plant the seeds of interest, there will be time to sort through the inevitable political and financial obstacles that come with putting a franchise in a new city.For now, a franchise south of the border feels like more than a pipe dream to Valdez.“All good projects have a beginning,” he said. “It is a start. We have to start on the right path. That’s one of the things we have to show. Have a great (series) – not great, excellent – to send the message that we want it bad.” • The dedication of a refurbished Computer Center, modeled after standard Boys & Girls Clubs of America.• A youth baseball clinic in collaboration with the local Mexican League team.• A game between two local Little League-affiliated teams.• The Rockies’ and Twins’ mascots will visit a local children’s hospital, whose patients will attend all three games of the series.There are many reasons why the league is treating these three games as more than just three games. Here’s a good one: a boy from northeast Mexico might want a major league team in his homeland someday. Rolling out the red carpet, and showcasing MLB’s regular-season product, is a good way for the league to gauge just how much interest exists. The Dodgers and San Diego Padres will fly to Monterrey, Mexico this week to begin a three-game weekend series. They are the first regular-season games in Mexico since 1999, and the first to involve the Dodgers.Major League Baseball is coordinating the activities around the series. There could be more time spent on activities than actual baseball, especially with the threat of rain looming.For now, the weekend is scheduled to include:• A Fan Fest with interactive activities ranging from batting cages to virtual reality exhibits. Dodgers’ hot-hitting Corey Seager leaves game with back injury center_img Dodgers bench slumping Cody Bellinger for a day Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error That boy is real, by the way. His name is Ismael Valdez, the former Dodgers pitcher.“It means a lot,” Valdez said of the series. “We’re talking about promotion. We want to have baseball in our country; talking about the future, maybe an expansion MLB team in Mexico. It is so important.”Even over the phone, it’s hard to overstate Valdez’s passion. Give it a couple days. Valdez will be the color commentator for ESPN Deportes’ telecast of Sunday’s game at Estadio Béisbol Monterrey.Valdez, 44, still lives in his hometown of Victoria, a good two hours south of the ballpark. In the U.S., the exhibition has the veneer of a marketing gimmick, the latest in a string of MLB’s international expeditions.Back home, Valdez said, it means much more.“We have to be sold out,” he said. “We have to send a strong sign to MLB that we want an MLB team in the near future. … Not just a three-game series. Permanently.”Valdez said he hasn’t always felt this strongly. He debuted with the Dodgers in 1994 as a 20-year-old. Back then, just playing for the team he rooted for growing up, and pitching against his boyhood idol Fernando Valenzuela, was enough. The first regular-season game in Mexico was still years away.Related Articles Dodgers’ Justin Turner looking rejuvenated on defense last_img

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