Mendoza, Chen root for home countries in LLWS

Mendoza, Chen root for home countries in LLWS

KANSAS CITY -- Luis Mendoza has been watching the Little League World Series all week cheering for Mexico and waiting for a game against Panama, so he could start a little friendly rivalry with Bruce Chen. Thursday afternoon, that game came, and Felipe Paulino, whose locker separates Mendoza and Chen said he was there to keep things civil.

"Yeah, we're not talking," Chen said playfully.

In all seriousness, Mendoza said he likes watching the tournament because of the great opportunity it offers for kids.

"It's something good for kids, especially in Mexico because Mexico is not really a baseball country," Mendoza said. "It's more soccer, so I wish more kids could play baseball."

He grew up playing baseball and even made it to the elimination rounds out of state, but never to the big tournament. He said at that age, it's most important that the players are just enjoying the games.

"They are too young to really know if they want to do this for a living, but just enjoy the game and it is good that they are playing sports to stay active and stay away from other things," Mendoza said.

Mexico gave Mendoz bragging rights with a 4-2 victory to advance to the International Final.

Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.