It’s no secret that the Dominican Republic has one of the most impressive blunderbuss we’ve seen in a World Baseball Classic since the tournament’s first edition in 2006.
And the baseball world is about to get a taste of what the island country and its “Plátano Power” have to offer. We are talking about a country that has a great love for its food and its music, and all of that is intertwined with baseball.
“We want to show the American people and the whole world,” said the team’s general manager and designated hitter Nelson Cruz, “what it takes to be a proud Dominican.”
You may have seen the video making the rounds on social media of a group of Dominican players listening to bachata and merengue as they travel from spring training in Arizona to Miami, home of Group D. This trip was organized by Padres third baseman Manny Machado. , who invited Cruz and asked him to invite other players from the area. Ketel Marte, Teóscar Hernández, Luis García and Julio Rodríguez accepted.
Rodríguez was not very hungry, so he ordered a small portion of ribs and pigeon peas, a very traditional dish. His eyes widened after the first bite. The rice was the same as you usually eat in the Dominican Republic. The baby back ribs were seasoned to perfection. The delicacy was the work of David Cruz, Nelson’s cousin and private cook.
“[Julio] he tasted it,” David said with a laugh, “and he started yelling that he wanted more.”
For many players, especially those who spend the season in western US cities where Dominican culture is harder to find, sometimes they go weeks or months without eating the food they’ve eaten forever.
That’s where Nelson’s cousin David comes in. David has worked for the Twins and Rays for the past eight seasons. Since the selection has food purchased from the clubhouse, he hasn’t done much cooking since he came to Florida. But the players know that he is there when they need him.
David says that some of Nelson’s colleagues who are not Dominican have asked him to cook for them. Minnesota center fielder Byron Buxton frequently asked for baby back ribs and moron. And David says that Derek Falvey, CEO of the Twins, was delighted with Dominican food during an event in Minnesota in 2019. For Dominicans, the most famous dish is “La Bandera.” It’s a simple combination of white rice, red beans, and steak. A couple of players have already said they hope to eat Mangú, a mashed green plantain topped with red onions and vinegar, as soon as they get to Miami.
“Our food cannot be missing,” Cruz laughed. “We just want everyone to be as comfortable as possible. At the end of the day, we want them to feel comfortable, so that all the players can go out and give their best.”
Food aside, the Dominican team prepares to play in front of a raucous crowd. Fans in attendance will have trumpets and drums ready to play music throughout the game