Mariners outfielder Leonys Martin turned 29 years old Monday, and his teammates wanted to do something memorable in order to mark the occasion. Even if he wanted to, it is unlikely that Martin will ever be able to forget being followed by a live, four-piece mariachi band serenading him at M's practice in Peoria, Ariz.
When he stretched, the hovering band played and sang to Martin, who wore a light-colored Mexican sombrero. When he threw in the outfield (while still wearing the sombrero), the band played and sang to Martin. When he batted (wearing the sombrero), the band played and sang to Martin. Everywhere that Martin went, so did a trumpeter, a violinist and two guitarists.
Beat reporter Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times says that Mariners manager Scott Servais "volunteered" slugger Kyle Seager to pay for the band. Seager later offered to pay for overtime that was said to cover the duration of practice.
There is significant video:
Martin told reporters that he was taken aback by the elaborate gesture, and got emotional about the tribute:
Fun! Yeah, but...anyone already aware of Martin realizes the contradiction, the anomaly, the paradox: Martin, a major-leaguer since breaking in with the Rangers in 2011, is from Cuba—which, it is worth pointing out, is not Mexico, where mariachi music originates. Cuba and Mexico share the Spanish language, but the country's cultures also have many differences that anglo people frequently don't bother to acknowledge. Recently, mariachi music has gained popularity in Cuba, but would Servais have known that?
Former MLB manager Ozzie Guillen, who is from Venezuela, used to "joke" about being considered Mexican. In reflection, it was clear that he didn't necessarily appreciate it, like when ballparks organists would play "The Mexican Hat Dance" for his at-bat music. It irritated Guillen. Prediction: The Mariners mariachi party will get some blowback, if it hasn't already.