Giants, Padres to play in Mexico City on April 28-29

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — The San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants will play in the first regular-season Major League Baseball games in Mexico City next year, three seasons after the first scheduled matchup there was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

San Francisco and San Diego will play a two-game series at Estadio Alfredo Harp Helu Beisbol on April 29 and 30, the commissioner’s office and players’ association said Wednesday. The Padres will be the home team in both games.

MLB had announced in December 2019 that San Diego and Arizona would play the following April 18 and 19 at the 20,000-capacity ballpark, which opened in March 2019. But the pandemic delayed opening day from March 26 to July 23 and caused the Mexico games to be canceled, along with a Chicago Cubs-St. Louis series in London on June 13 and 14, and a three-game series between the New York Mets and Miami at San Juan, Puerto Rico, from April 28-30.

The Cubs-Cardinals series at London’s Olympic Stadium was rescheduled for next June 24-25.

Spring training games were played in Mexico City in 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2016 at Fray Nano and Foro Sol.

San Diego has played made three regular-season trips to Monterrey, Mexico, against the Mets (Aug. 16-18, 1996), Colorado (April 4, 1999) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (May 4-6, 2018).

These will be the Giants’ first games outside the U.S. and Canada.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.