Some of you know I live in Mexico almost full-time; after retiring from a job of 30 years in OC.
Mexico is a wonderful country for the baseball fan. Within a 90 minute drive of where I live are three professional teams. The one closest is the equivalent of about A ball while two are within the Mexican Pacific League (LMP) which is generally considered the equal of AAA ball in the US. There are often players from MLB rosters that play for LMP teams. In all, there are about five professional leagues in Mexico.
Here is a list of players who have played in the Caribbean Series. You will see many HOF players on this list and they are not necessarily players from Latin America. You will see many current and former Angels who have played in the Series.
The winner of the LMP playoffs going on right now will represent Mexico in the annual Caribbean Series in early February. This is a particularly exciting year because the Series will be played in a brand new stadium in one of the close cities, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.
Here is a website (in Spanish) that shows the progress on building the very unique looking stadium.
The Caribbean Series pits the top team from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. It is a series of 13 games over seven days. Standings are kept and, for the first time this year, the first and second place teams will meet in a championship game. In the past, the leader in the standings after the first six days was simply declared the winner.
In the past, teams from Panama and Cuba were also included in the Series. Here is the wiki on the history of the Series.
Anyway, enough background. Right now, the Mexican qualifying round is in the semi-final stage. The teams from Ciudad Obregon and Culiacan (two bitter rivals!) are tied 1-1, as are the teams from Mexicali and Guasave.
Obregon was about to take a 2-0 in games back to their home stadium when Culiacan came up with three runs in the BOT of the 9th to win game two. The winning runs were supplied by a walkoff HR off the bat of The Latino Bambino (as he was once called); Karim Garcia. Some of you might remember him from his days in MLB with the D-back, Indians, Yankees, Orioles etc. He was originally signed as a sixteen year old by the Dodgers.
Garcia might also be remembered as one of two Yankees (the other was Jeff Nelson) who went after a groundskeeper in Fenway Park during the 2003 ALCS.
BTW, former Angel Alfredo Amezaga is on the Obregon team.
This has been your Caribbean Series update. I'll probably post another when the finals are set.
I have tickets to all thirteen games in February. Really looking forward to seeing the new stadium for the first time it will be used. So, you might get updates on that, too.
And I will be rooting for my newly adopted country, Mexico.
I always think of Eric Aybar during the Caribbean Series. His missed bunt against Boston, wasn't his biggest choke job.
I have followed Aybar for a long time, he is a choke in big games. Caribbean Series
During the MLB offseason, Aybar plays in the Caribbean Series alongside many other fellow MLB players from the countries involved. It is a way for them to prepare for the upcoming MLB season by playing in live games and it is a way for them to represent their country. The most talked about series was probably in 2006 when Venezuela and the Dominican Republic squared off. Both of these countries are no strangers to each other and have developed a very heated rivalry over the years.
Down, 4–3, in the ninth, Baltimore catcher Ramon Hernandez, named the Caribbean Series MVP, led off the bottom of the frame with a single and was immediately replaced by pinch runner William Bergolla. The moved proved to be a wise one because Bergolla advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and tied the game at 4 when he rambled home on Gonzalez's single to right field. He would not stay at first long.
Cubs catcher Henry Blanco followed with a high popup to shallow left field between Dominican shortstop Erick Aybar and left fielder Napoleón Calzado. Backpedaling and seemingly confused, the ball hit Aybar's head and rolled away. Gonzalez sped around the bases to send Venezuela's Caracas Baseball Club into the record books with a 5–4 victory to secure the title.
Well, I attended my first two games in the Caribbean Series yesterday in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.
The first game had Venezuela beating Puerto Rico 3-1, leaving PR as the only team without a win through Day 3.
In the nightcap, the powerful team from the Dominican Republic had their hands full with the team from Obregon, Mexico. The team from the DR is the favorite to win it all as they have the most players with recent MLB experience on their roster; Miguel Tejada, Hanley Ramirez, Fernando Tatis, Fernando Rodney and well as Angel farmhand, Luis Jimenez (who did not play). DR came into the game the only undefeated team in the Series.
DR took a 2-0 lead in the first on a 2-run HR by Miguel Tejada (do they test for PEDs in the Caribe Series, LOL!) only to have Mexico take 4-2 lead, going to the bottom of the 5th. The DR scored three times to take a 5-4 lead.
The lead held into the top of the ninth when Fernando Rodney came in to close it out. It was vintage Rodney (as an Angel) as he came in and threw 27 pitches (16 strikes, 11 balls) gave up three hits, a wild pitch and one walk and gave up the tying run when his walk resulted in a passed ball that allowed the tying run to score. Blown save-Rodney.
The DR ending up winning it to remain the only undefeated team in the tournament. Mexico fell to 1-2.
In action today, the DR FINALLY lost a game to the lowly team from Puerto Rico, who got their first win of the Series, 6-4. Mexico and Venezuela are playing right now.
I go back on Wednesday to see a matchup between arch rivals Venezuela and the DR as well as Mexico-PR. Then, the finale is Thursday night.
The new stadium is great; not a bad seat in the house.
And, of course, the Tecate girls are amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mexico suffered another tough loss to the Dominicans last night. After overcoming a 4-1 deficit in the third, the Mexican team from Obregon, Sonora held a 6-4 lead till the eighth, when the Dominicans exploded for seven runs. Angel prospect Luis Jimenez played a part of the big inning by drawing a bases-loaded, two out walk to plate the first run of the inning. And an 11-6 lead was a lead that even Fernando Rodney could hold. And he did, without event.
So, the Dominican Republic has guaranteed itself a spot in the championship game on Thursday, by virtue of a 4-1 record. Beyond that, it's very unclear. Mexico, Venezuela and Puerto Rico all have a 2-3 record in Series play. Two teams will end up with 3-3 records. The first tie breaker is head-to-head competition and the second is run differential. For the Mexicans to make the title game they must beat the Puerto Ricans and hope the Dominicans defeat the Venezuelans. Mexico and Venezuela have a 1-1 record in head to head competition, so run differential would be the tie breaker. I'm not sure if it's overall run differential in the Series or whether it's head to head run differential. If it's overall run differential, the Mexicans have a five run edge on Venezuela going into tonight's games.
I'll be at today's games and the finale on Thursday.
The lead held into the top of the ninth when Fernando Rodney came in to close it out. It was vintage Rodney (as an Angel) as he came in and threw 27 pitches (16 strikes, 11 balls) gave up three hits, a wild pitch and one walk and gave up the tying run when his walk resulted in a passed ball that allowed the tying run to score. Blown save-Rodney.================================================================
It's obviously the pitching coach's fault.