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DENVER – When the 2019 MLB schedule was announced on Wednesday, August 22, a fun little nuance was buried in the details.
For the third time in their history, the Colorado Rockies will be returning to Mexico to play baseball. Last appearing in 2015 Spring Training, they will return to the city of Monterrey for another pair of practice games against their division rivals, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The games are set to take place at Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey, the current home of the Sultanes of the Mexican League.
Additionally, the Cincinnati Reds will face off against the St. Louis Cardinals for a two-game regular-season set in April and the Los Angeles Angels and Houston Astros will do the same May.
The Rockies have a special relationship with Mexican baseball with two of the best and most notable players in franchise history also being two of the best and most notable players in the history of our neighbors to the south.
Jorge De La Rosa is easily in the club’s Top 5 pitchers of all time and Vinny Castilla firmly in the Top 10 overall players in organizational history. Other natives of Mexico to play in Colorado include current farmhand Daniel Castro and blasts from the past Armando Reynoso, Elmer Dessens, Alfredo Amezaga, and Rodrigo Lopez.
BSN Denver caught up with Castilla, a coach for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic and one of the most celebrated players in the nation’s history.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “The Rockies are gonna play in Monterrey, man! It’s going to be pretty cool.”
He says he hopes to be there when they play in spring training but knows that either way the Rockies will be met by a city with a deep running passion for the game.
“It’s really cool,” Rockies’ star Nolan Arenado said of the specialty game. “I think it’s cool to spread it out and involve different teams. It’s a great experience and it’s great for baseball to get as many counties and people involved as possible.”
A popular running topic for seemingly every offseason as the game continues to grow has been whether or not that growth could result in even further expansion of the league.
There are plenty of fun debates to be had about the validity of such a notion, but for me, the most interesting part comes in imagining the new places that the magic of major league baseball can come to.
Portland is a great sports town and the Northwest could use more baseball. New Orleans has a rich history with the game.
But for a truly international sport that already includes one other country and boasts a “World Series”, it is well past time for MLB to come to Latin America.
While probably deserving considering the extraordinary amount of talent the countries have produced, places like Puerto Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela present too many pragmatic problems.
But, Arenado argues, expanding to Mexico should be both doable and beneficial.
“I mean, we have one in Canada,” he laughed. “Mexico’s not too far off, either. It would be cool. Something different but I think it would be good for the game.”
Of course, you knew Vinny Castilla would be a supporter of the idea.
“That’d be nice,” he said. “I think if any city can hold a major league team, it’s Monterrey or Mexico City. There’s a lot of money in those cities man and they love the game and would support a major league team. I would love it, man.”
The viability of expanding such an already massive enterprise into a new city and country can certainly be argued. What would the travel have to look like? Would it dilute the quality of the on-field product too much? What kind of effects will the environment have? Do they need a humidor?
But if the most elite level of baseball comes to Mexico, the stands will be packed and alive with song, the food will be out of this world, and the unbridled love for the game shown through in Vinny Castilla at the mere mention of the possibility, will pour from the bleachers and soak into the grass onto the field.