The 2014 Caribbean Series is being hosted by Venezuela and will be held at Estadio Nueva Esparta in Porlamar, Isla Margarita. This stadium is the home field of los Bravos de Margarita, one of eight teams in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League.
More changes are in store for the “Caribbean World Series” in 2014. The biggest news is that Cuba is returning to la Serie del Caribe after an absence of over fifty years. In an interview with ESPN Dominicana on June 11, the president of the Caribbean Confederation announced that Cuba would participate in the 2014 Series. However, subsequent to this announcement, MLB expressed concern that the U.S. State Department had not yet granted the appropriate license for Cuba to participate. The issue of Cuban re-entry was also interwoven with the need for the winter leagues to renew their agreement with Organized Baseball prior to the start of the 2013-14 winter season. In the event, all has been resolved and the current champion of the Cuban Serie Nacional, Villa Clara, is set to represent Cuba as La Serie del Caribe opens on February 1.
With five teams set to participate (the winter champions from Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dominicana and Cuba), the format of competition for the 2014 Serie is also changing. The tournament will open with a single round-robin phase, from which the bottom team will be eliminated and the remaining four will enter a “knock-out” phase consisting of a semi-finals round and then the final. The schedule and rosters can be found here
Monte, Juan Antonio, and Dr. Francisco Javier Gonzalez Juan’s family with fanaticos
**** As of January 29, the field was set for Serie del Caribe 2014; the playoff champions are ****
Puerto Rico – Indios de Mayaguez
Cuba – Naranjos de Villa Clara
Dominican Republic – Tigres del Licey
Venezuela – Navegantes de Magallanes
Mexico – Naranjeros de Hermosillo
Summary and Retrospective of Serie del Caribe 2014
Mexico won its second straight Serie del Caribe, and its third championship in the past four years. The combination of strong pitching, good defense, and timely hitting propelled the Mexicans to the title. The Mexico representative, Naranjeros de Hermosillo, had a historic season – winning both halves of the Mexican Pacific league season, the playoffs, and la Serie. The fact that many of my traveling companions, including my good friend Juan Antonio Jasso R., are from Hermosillo added to the enjoyment of the games.
Opening ceremonies The author with Mexican fanaticos
The return of a Cuban squad also added to the excitement of Serie del Caribe 2014. Although the Cubans were overmatched on the field of play, their presence brought out a lot of additional scouts, as well as demonstrators from the Venezuelan opposition protesting the Cubans’ presence. The Cuban players were very athletic, and their infielders put on a great show throwing the ball around the infield at the start of each inning.
The Puerto Rican team was the surprise of la Serie. As they did in the most recent World Baseball Classic, the Puerto Ricans displayed “just enough” pitching and offense to win several close games and make it to the final game. Before each game a group of about a dozen Puerto Rican players would gather in a circle in front of their dugout and play hot-box, passing the ball around with their gloved hands until someone dropped it … a nostalgic warm-up drill.
The stadium in Porlamar is a good one for watching a ballgame. Sightlines are good and the stands are close to the field. Seating at capacity is about 15,700, which was the announced attendance at the semi-final game featuring the host Venezuelan club. Food and drink at the stadium were delicious and cheap — most drinks, including beer, were about one dollar or less!
Isla Margarita is a scenic locale, featuring tropical beaches, mountains, and desert, depending on your location within the island. Our hotel was on one of many Caribbean beaches on the east side of the island.
If you’re a fan of beisbol latinomericano, I would strongly recommend a trip to la Serie del Caribe to fully experience the excitement and passion of the game “south of the border”. You’ll enjoy it! Serie del Caribe 2015 will be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, making it especially accessible to fans from the U.S.
Hasta la vista, Monte
*** following is a day-by-day description of the action for Serie del Caribe 2014 ***
Saturday February 1
After an over-night flight from Mexico City to Caracas, and then on to Porlamar, I´ve checked into my hotel and am on the way to the ball park for the opening games. There was a lot of security at our hotel and we were wondering why. We´ve since been informed that the Cuban team is staying here! Tonight´s games are Puerto Rico vs. Dominicana in the opener and Mexico vs. Cuba in the nightcap.
Quick results: Puerto Rico 7 – Dominicana 6 (10 inn) Mexico 9 – Cuba 4
The stadium was very loud and the fans excited for the opening game, seeing Puerto Rico upset the Dominicans in 10 innings.
There was a long between-games extravaganza featuring a visit by Venezuelan president Maduro. By the reaction of the fans, you would have thought he`d blown a save.
The second game featured the return of the Cuban champions to la Serie del Caribe after an absence of over a half-century. The Mexican club spoiled the Cuban debut by jumping on Cuban pitching and fielding mistakes early and often and the Mexicans never trailed. Cuban star Alfredo Despaigne hit a long home run early, but Mexican pitcher Alfredo Aceves mostly kept the Cuban offense in check. Refruerzo Chris Roberson hit a three-run homer in a 5-run fifth for Mexico to put the game out of reach.
The Cuban club put on a real show throwing the ball around the infield before the inning began and after outs. They were extremely athletic.
Sunday February 2
Quick results: Mexico 6 – Puerto Rico 3 Venezuela 8 – Cuba 5
Mexico rode good pitching, good defense and two homeruns by Zealous Wheeler to the win over Puerto Rico. Mexican starter Delgadillo had a strong outing holding the Puerto Ricans scoreless. PR scored three in the bottom of the ninth agains the Mexican bullpen, but it was too little, too late.
Venezuela had plenty of offense, including a home run by Endy Chavez, and outpaced Cuba in the nightcap. So far, the Cuban pitching, especially the bullpen, does not appear to be as strong as the other clubs here.
The Cubans had additional challenges off the field, as there were protests against their presence both at the hotel and outside the ball park. The local news media blamed “the fascist opposition” for the problems.
I had a great snack at the ballpark — tostones — fried, salted plantanos (akin to a banana) … muy delicioso … especially with the local cerveza – Polar.
Monday February 3
Quick results: Dominicana 9 – Cuba 2 Venezuela 6 – Mexico 3
The Dominicans scored early and often to send Cuba to their third defeat. An eighth inning homer by Julio Lugo put the game out of reach. The Cubans again made some key errors and lacked pitching depth. Cuba only scored the two runs in the bottom of the ninth.
The nightcap was a near-sellout as the host Venezuela team met the as-yet-undefeated Mexicans. Estadio Nueva Esparta was loud and rocking. Venezuela knocked Mexican starter Nathan Reed for four runs and he did not finish the second inning. Carlos Zambrano started for Venezuela and pitched three strong innings before walking three in the fourth, yielding two runs for Mexico. Both bullpens were effective until a late two-run homer gave Venezuela a three-run lead. Mexico threatened with two outs in the ninth, but could not score.
With three days of the round-robin phase completed, the standings are:
Puerto Rico 1-1
Tuesday February 4
Quick results: Cuba 2 – Puerto Rico 1 Venezuela 2 – Dominicana 1
Runs were at a premium during games on Tuesday. The Cuban team broke into the win column behind improved defense and pitching. There was an extended rain delay during the fourth inning of the nightcap, but the host team remained undefeated through four days of the round-robin phase.
Due to the rain and uncertainty of the game resuming, we caught the rest of the ballgame on TV back at the hotel. The Venezuelan broadcaster was very entertaining, singing during the game and, when an exciting play occured, shouting “Ay, Yi, Yi, Maracay!”
Wednesday February 5
Quick results: Dominicana 7 – Mexico 6 Puerto Rico 5 – Venezuela 4
Two high-scoring exciting games today. Mexico fell behind early and mounted a late rally, but fell short as Carlos Marmol closed out the game for Dominicana. Puerto Rico led the entire game and upset the host club.
Wenesday´s games complete the round-robin phase of the tournament with the standings as:
Puerto Rico 2-2
Cuba is therefore eliminated and the semifinals are:
Thursday – Mexico vs. Dominicana Friday – Venezuela vs. Puerto Rico
Thursday February 6
First Semifinal — Mexico 3 – Dominicana 2
In a well-pitched game, Mexico tied the score in the eighth and won the game in the bottom of the ninth on a faked sacrifice by catcher Sebastian Valle. With runners on first and second, Mexico´s catcher faked a sacrifice bunt and then pushed a high bouncer through the pulled-in infield to drive in the winning run.
Mexico now waits for the results of tonight’s game pitting the host Venezuelans against Puerto Rico.
Friday February 7
Second Semifinal — Puerto Rico 2 – Venezuela 0
Puerto Rico got a great start from Giancarlo Alvarado and with solid defense upset the host team. Eddie Rosario hit a bloop single just past SS to drive in two runs in the eighth to decide the game. This gave the Puerto Ricans their second win in as many games against the powerful Venezuela squad.
This sets up the FINAL as Mexico vs. Puerto Rico on Saturday night.
Saturday February 8
MEXICO WINS SERIE DEL CARIBE !!
Juan Delgadillo pitched seven scoreless innings to put Mexico in position to take the deciding game. The final contest was decided in the sixth, when CF Chris Roberson hit a solo shot, followed later in the inning by an RBI single by Daryle Ward and then a grand slam by C Sebastian Valle — putting the score at 6-0. The final score was: Mexico 7 – Puerto Rico 1.
Delgadillo picked up the win and Joel Pinero was the losing pitcher.
Roberson was named the Serie MVP.
This marks the second consecutive Serie title for Mexico, and they have won three of the last four.
The following is a summary of the 2013-14 winter league seasons and the in-country playoffs:
WINTER LEAGUES REGULAR SEASON RECAP
The Winter regular season wrapped up December 22 in Dominicana and December 30 in Mexico, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. The Cuban season, Serie Nacional #53, continues until Spring, 2014. Following is a brief overview of the results:
Mexico: The eight clubs of la Liga Mexicana del Pacifico (LMP) play a split-season format and los Naranjeros de Hermosillo won both halves of the winter schedule. LMP clubs earn points determined by their position in the standings at the end of each half of the season, and then the six clubs with the highest number of points advance to the playoffs. Joining los Naranjeros in the playoffs are: Algodoneros de Guasave, Tomateros de Culican, Aguilas de Mexicali, Caneros de Los Mochis, and Mayos de Navajoa. Three time LMP champs and defending Serie del Caribe kingpins Yaquis de Cd. de Obregon, along with los Venados de Mazatlan, failed to make the playoffs.
Dominican Republic: Four of the six clubs in the Dominican winter league qualify for the playoffs. Los Leones del Escogido (Santo Domingo) and Aguilas Cibaenas (Santiago) were tied with 31-19 records at the end of regular season play, with Escogido declared the winner due to tie-breaker rules. Joining Escogido and Aguilas in the playoffs are Licey (Santo Domingo) and los Gigantes (San Francisco de Macoris). The two “eastern” teams, Estrellas (San Pedro) and Toros (La Romana) did not qualify for post-season play.
Venezuela: Five of the eight teams in the Venezuelan winter league are eligible to advance to the post-season. Caribes de Oriente (Anzoategui) won the regular season by a five-game margin. Joining Caribes in the playoffs are Aguilas de Zulia, Leones de Caracas, Navegantes del Magallanes, and Tiburones de la Guaira. Failing to make the playoffs were Tigres de Aragua, Cardenales de Lara, and Bravos de Margarita.
Puerto Rico: La Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente fielded only five teams for 2013-14, with the Manati franchise not returning this season. The competition in Puerto Rico was very close, with only three games separating the top and bottom clubs. Caguas, Mayaguez and Ponce all tied atop the standings with identical 21-19 records. Caguas was declared the winner. Carolina, in fourth place, filled out the four-team post-season playoffs. The Santurce club, playing at Estadio Hiram Bithorn in San Juan, failed to make the playoffs.
Cuba: Sixteen teams play in the top-level Serie Nacional, whose season (including playoffs) will run from November until April. The winner of SN52, the 2012-13 season in Cuba, was Villa Clara and they will represent Cuba in la Serie del Caribe 2014.
PLAYOFF RESULTS (final results)
Mexico: The first round of the LMP playoffs wrapped up on January 8. Mexicali swept Culican 4 games to 0. Hermosillo eliminated Guasave 4-2. Navojoa defeated Los Mochis 4-2, but Los Mochis also advances to the semi-finals as the “wild card” among the losing teams. The LMP semi-finals shape up as:
Hermosillo vs. Los Mochis and Mexicali vs. Navojoa. Semi-final play began Saturday 11 January.
Navojoa made short work of Mexicali in a mild upset in their semi-final series, 4 games to 1, and los Mayos advance to the LMP finals.
Hermosillo advanced to the finals by winning the seventh and deciding game, 4-2, over Los Mochis.
The LMP Finals (best of seven) open Tuesday, 21 January with Hermosillo hosting Navojoa at Estadio Sonora:
Game 1 (Tuesday 21 January): Hermosillo 4 – Navojoa 0
Game 2 (Wednesday 22 January): Navojoa 7 – Hermosillo 4
Game 3 (Friday 24 January): Hermosillo 6 – Navojoa 5
Game 4 (Saturday 25 January): Navojoa 7 – Hermosillo 3
Game 5 (Sunday 26 January): Hermosillo 6 – Navojoa 4
Game 6 (Tuesday 28 January): Navojoa 5 – Hermosillo 3
Game 7 (Wednesday 29 January): Hermosillo 8 – Navojoa 3
Naranjeros de Hermosillo win the series 4-3 and will represent Mexico at Serie del Caribe 2014.
You can follow the LMP playoffs and your favorite teams (in Spanish) at: http://www.ligadelpacifico.com.mx/
Dominican Republic: Escogido placed first in the 18-game round-robin phase of the playoffs and advance to the finals. Gigantes and Licey finished tied for second with 9-9 records. In a one-game playoff on Saturday 18 January, Licey defeated Gigantes at Estadio Julian Javier in San Francisco de Macoris 9-8 and advance to the finals.
The best-of-nine final series in Dominicana will be played entirely at Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo, which is the home field for both los Leones del Escogido and los Tigres de Licey. A festive atmosphere will prevail in the capital as the traditional rivals meet to decide which club will represent the Dominican Republic at la Serie del Caribe. When I was in Santo Domingo in 2012, I asked a taxi driver if he was a Licey or an Escogido fan. He told me, “My wife cheers for Licey, but my daughters are fanaticas of Escogido. I just watch the games and keep my mouth shut.”
Game 1 (Monday 20 January): Licey 2 – Escogido 1
Game 2 (Tuesday 21 January): Licey 5 – Escogido 1
Game 3 (Wednesday 22 January): Licey 1 – Escogido 0
Game 4 (Thursday 23 January): Escogido 6 – Licey 5
Game 5 (Friday 24 January): Escogido 8 – Licey 0
Game 6 (Sunday 26 January): Escogido 9 – Licey 6
Game 7 (Monday 27 January): Licey 3 – Escogido 1
Game 8 (Tuesday 28 January): Licey 3 – Escogido 2
Tigres del Licey win best-of-nine series tied 5-3 and will represent the Dominican Republic in la Serie del Caribe 2014.
You can follow the action (in Spanish) at: http://www.lidom.com/home/
Venezuela: Magallanes won the round-robin phase of the playoffs and Caribes came in second. They will square off in the Venezuelan final series. Caracas was eliminated on the last day of round-robin play. The final round-robin standings are:
La Guaira 5-11
The Magallanes-Caribes final series begins play on Thursday, 23 January in Valencia.
Game 1 (Thursday 23 January): Magallanes 5 – Caribes 4
Game 2 (Friday 24 January): Magallanes 6 – Caribes 5
Game 3 (Saturday 25 January): Magallanes 11 – Caribes 2
Game 4 (Sunday 26 January): Caribes 5 – Magallanes 3 (10 innings)
Game 5 (Tuesday 28 January): Magallanes 11 – Caribes 6
Navegantes del Magallanes win the series 4-1 and will represent Venezuela in la Serie del Caribe 2014.
More details (in Spanish) are at: http://www.lvbp.com/
Puerto Rico: The final standings of the round-robin phase of the playoffs are:
Mayaguez and Caguas advance to the best-of-seven final series. One of these two clubs has represented Puerto Rico for the last three years in la Serie del Caribe, and it looks like their command of la Liga Roberto Clemente will continue.
Game 1 (Sunday 19 January): Caguas 5 – Mayaguez 1
Game 2 (Tuesday 21 January): Mayaguez 6 – Caguas 4
Game 3 (Wednesday 22 January): Caguas 5 – Mayaguez 4 (11 innings)
Game 4 (Friday 24 January): Mayaguez 7 – Caguas 4
Game 5 (Saturday 25 January): Mayaguez 2 – Caguas 1
Game 6 (Sunday 26 January): Mayaguez 5 – Caguas 1
Indios de Mayaguez win the series 4-2 and will represent Puerto Rico in la Serie del Caribe 2014
The latest results (in Spanish) are at: http://ligapr.com/
Cuba: The current action in Serie Nacional numero 53 (Spanish and English) is at: http://www.baseballdecuba.com/newsite/index.html
The champions of last season’s SN#52, los Leopardos de Villa Clara (also known as los Naranjas), will represent Cuba at Serie del Caribe 2014.
A quick, English-language summary of winter league action, box scores and schedules can be found at: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/winterleagues/