News & Politics

Indians-Twins Play with Backup Generators in Puerto Rico as Island-Wide Blackout Continues

Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor waves the Puerto Rican flag before a game between the Indians and Minnesota Twins in San Juan, April 17, 2018/ (GDA via AP Images)

The second game of a two-game series in San Juan, Puerto Rico, between the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins has gone on as planned despite the island-wide blackout, thanks to backup generators at the stadium.

Puerto Rico has been hit by several major power outages since a Category 4 hurricane struck the island in September, but Wednesday’s outage was the first to affect the entire island.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz tweeted that the blackout would not impact the game at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.

“All emergency systems have been tested in the Hiram Bithorn,” she tweeted. “The blackout does not stop the game. Tonight is played at Bithorn.”

John Blakeman, the director of operations for the Puerto Rico Series, said Wednesday’s game “will not be affected.”

“This has not taken us by surprise,” Blakeman told ESPN. “We are fully prepared. Every area of Hiram Bithorn Stadium can run on generators that have a capacity to run for 48 hours. The main building runs on two generators, one of 400 kilowatts and another one of 200 for a total of 600 kilowatts. Each light tower operates with independent generators of 200 kilowatts. The game will not be affected at all.”

Arian Florido, a reporter for NPR, tweeted:

Jonathan Adkins, a producer at WKYC-TV in Cleveland, noted that most businesses and hotels remain operational thanks to generators.

Many Twitter users criticized the decision to allow the game to continue, complaining that the generators could have been used to help families affected by the blackout.

https://twitter.com/GrexxSkullz/status/986700674326061056

But other users were glad to hear that the game would go on and commended MLB for planning ahead:

https://twitter.com/jinxed_1/status/986643890555023360

During ESPN’s broadcast of the series, commentators promoted tourism and highlighted the history of Puerto Rican players in Major League Baseball. They also drew attention to the ongoing hurricane recovery efforts and emphasized the morale boost the games have provided to residents of the beleaguered island.

Despite the ongoing hurricane recovery efforts, there has been tremendous enthusiasm for the Twins-Indians series. The Star- Tribune explained:

Maria caused about $85 billion in damage in Puerto Rico. Depending on who you ask, 5 to 10 percent of the island remains without power, mostly in mountainous areas in the middle of the U.S. territory.

The series between the Twins and Indians was announced before the hurricane hit, but despite the damage, locals were undeterred. The games are sold out, and Hiram Bithorn Stadium (which holds slightly more than 18,000) will be overflowing with 39,000 tickets sold.

These two days will celebrate what some consider to be a golden age for the sport of the island, as young products such as Houston shortstop Carlos Correa and Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor have become stars. Puerto Rican Twins Jose Berrios and Eddie Rosario have gotten heroes’ welcomes.

The series will show how much progress has been made, post-Maria. And, in a place in which tourism fuels the economy, Puerto Ricans want to prove their island remains a vacation destination.

“The message to the United States is that Puerto Rico is open for business,” said Rosario, who spent Monday visiting schools in his home near Guayama. “It is still a beautiful island. Yes, there are still places in recovery mode, but most of the island is back up and is good and everyone is working hard to make it better.”

The Indians won Tuesday’s game 6-1. Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, a Puerto Rican native who left home in high school to play baseball in the U.S., launched a home run, causing near-hysteria in the stadium. Fans leaped to their feet as they cheered the hometown boy who was playing in Puerto Rico for the first time as a professional baseball player. The cheers were reminiscent of something you’d hear after a walk-off home run in Game 7 of the World Series. They continued to cheer “Lindor! Lindor” until the fan favorite stepped back out of the dugout for an encore. Lindor’s mother was in the crowd to witness the home run and to see the adoration directed at her son.

This was one of those special baseball moments that keeps fans coming back year after year. On Wednesday, for the second night in a row, the stadium in San Juan was packed with fans—perhaps seeking a needed distraction from the blackout and the dire circumstances all around them, but mostly to embrace their love for the game and its players.