Great American Fantasy League Season 3 World Series Game 1

[Editor’s note: This summary by chapter member Gary McIntosh details the first game of the Great American Fantasy League Season 3 World Series.]

Extra Inning Affairs Continue in Makeup Game #1

By Gary McIntosh

LOS ANGELES–Oct 28.  The redo of game #1 of the GAFL Season Three World Series looked much like many of the playoff games that have been played to get the two teams to this point.  It went 14 innings, with LA tying the game in the bottom of the eighth and finally winning it six innings later.

The Kansas City Royals had gotten a first inning single from Hal McRae, and then LA pitcher Sandy Koufax walked Billy Butler, before uncorking a wild pitch moving both runners up.  So two in scoring position for the Royals and one out.  But Koufax struck out Danny Tartabull, and Mike Sweeney bounced out to short to end the threat.

The strikeout was ominous, and telling, for this game.  Kevin Appier, the KC starter pitched 8.1 innings, striking out 10.  He was followed by 3 relievers, but no Dodgers struck out after Appier left the game.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers threw seven pitchers into the contest, and all struck out at least one, as the Bums staff struck out 17 Royals hitters.  Koufax fanned 7 in five innings and Kenley Jansen nailed down 4 in his 3 innings.

So several potential rallies went by the wayside, controlled by the pitchers.

In the first four innings, after the top of the first, there were no threats.  Koufax retired 12 in a row after the Butler walk.  The Royals hit a couple of drives deep to left but the FD7s were hauled in by Dodgers left fielder Zach Wheat.  Meanwile, Appier gave up a one out walk in the first and a one out single to Koufax himself in the bottom of the third.  He retired 12 of the first 14 he faced.

In the top of the fifth, after Joe Randa struck out, Frank White got the first solid connection that wasn’t caught.  His blast of a 2-1 fastball from Koufax landed in the left field seats, and KC had a 1-0 lead.  Freddie Patek laid down a bunt single, but Koufax struck out Appier and Wilson to end any thoughts of adding to the lead.

Reggie Smith led off the bottom of the fifth with a single, the first of his three hits on the night, but Appier managed to sail through the rest of that inning.

The Dodgers started going to the bullpen from then on.  After lifting Koufax for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fifth, Alston called on Eric Gagne.  Despite terrible stuff, he retired the Royals in order in the sixth on two fly balls to left and a strikeout.

LA got an infield single from Pete Reiser in the bottom of the frame, but Jackie Robinson lined into a double play on a hit and run attempt.

In the seventh, Jonathan Broxton relieved Gagne, and was greeted by a Mike Sweeney double to right.  George Brett hit for Randa, but struck out, and so did White.  Alcides Escobar hit for Patek, and laid down a perfect bunt.  Runners at the corners with two outs.  Dick Howser decided to leave Appier in the game, and Broxton struck him out, stranding the runners.

In the bottom of the seventh, Babe Herman singled to left.  Two pitches later, he stole second.  Mike Piazza popped to short, and Appier fanned Smith and Wheat to end any threat.

Jeff Pfeffer came on for LA, and retired the Royals in order in the eighth.  And Appier kept sailing along, getting Rafael Furcal on a lazy fly to right and Augie Galan on a grounder to short.  Two down and no one on base

Reiser was up for LA.  He hit a drive to left center field.  Hal McRae was on his horse, but he couldn’t make the defensive play.  The ball bounced just away from his outstretched glove and Reiser had a double (Z 46/65, CD2)

Jackie Robinson was up next.  He singled sharply into left field and the Dodgers third base coach sent Reiser.  Everyone thought he’d be out (46 chance) but the Bums had tied the game as Reiser slid around the tag of Salvador Perez.  It was 1-1.

Ron Perranoski was pitching for LA and he retired KC in order in the ninth.  Junior Gilliam had come in on a double switch in the top of the inning and was now hitting, leading off the bottom of the ninth.  Gilliam laced a double off the wall in left.  Appier struck out Piazza again for out number one.

Smith was up and his second hit of the game was a single to right.  Runners at the corners for the west coasters and Appier’s night was done.  Greg Holland came on for KC.  Holland threw a pitch down low, and it broke into the dirt.  But Perez blocked it, and the runners had to hold.  On a full count breaking ball, Wheat lined a shot to left.  Wilson got himself lined up, making the catch.  Gilliam tagged and steamed towards the plate with the winning run.

Wilson’s throw was on the money.  Gilliam slid in and Perez blocked the plate!  Nestor Chylak called Gilliam out!  Junior was slow to get up, and limped off the field.  We were on to extra innings, and the Dodgers had to make some defensive moves, as Gil Hodges came in at first with Augie Galan moving to third and Robinson back to second base, with Gilliam holding ice to his ankle.

The scoresheet was getting cumbersome.

The boys from KC got a one out single by Escobar, but he was thrown out trying to steal in the tenth. Perranoski faced the minimum through his two innings of work.  Kenley Jansen replaced him in the eleventh and gave up a lead off bunt single and a stolen base to Wilson.  Buit he retired nine in a row, including four whiffs, through the 13th inning.

Dan Quisenberry meanwhile did the same for KC.  He threw the 10th through the 12th, giving up a couple of singles and a walk, but getting two double plays to erase threats. The DP in the 12th was critical as Smith had singled, and stolen second when Wheat couldn’t get the bat on the ball on a hit and run.  Wheat walked and there were two on.  But Furcal’s bouncer back to Quiz was turned into the double play.   Joakin Soria retired the Dodgers in order in the 13th.

So it was on to the 14th.  Jansen was replaced by Jay Howell.  After striking out Johnny Damon, who had replaced McRae, the Dodgers ace gave up a single to Butler.  Another twin killing wiped that out though when Lorenzo Cain grounded to Galan, and the ball went around the horn.

So bottom of the 14th.  Soria still pitching for KC.  Duke Snider walked to lead off the innng.  Soria held him close, and he couldn’t get a jump.  Gil Hodges lad down a great sacrifice bunt, moving Snider into scoring position.  Roy Campanella was up.  Soria’s splitter stayed up and Campy drove the ball into left center.    Snider was around third and the throw was just up the line.  Snider scored, and the Dodgers had won game one, a prolonged game that essentially started the night before, and was washed out.

Game Two will pit Bret Saberhagen against a still to be decided Dodgers pitcher.  Junior Gilliam, hurt on the play at the plate in the bottom of the ninth, will be ok and available for the Dodgers according to the training staff.  What drama awaits as GAFL’s World Series rolls on?

KC  000 010 000 000 00 — 1 8 0

LA   000 000 010 000 01 — 2 11 0

WP  Howell (2-0)

LP  Soria

Sv   none

MVP  Campanella 1 for 2, game winning RBI

Jansen, 3 innings, 1 hit, no runs, 4 strike outs

Appier 8.1 innings, 1 run, 1 walk, 10 Ks

GG  Furcal +1 Z play in first; McRae -2  failed to make Z play on CD2 that fell for double, and was the game tying run; Wilson +2 threw out winning run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth; White, bottom of 11th L4 converted into a double play

E – none

2b – Sweeney, Reiser, Gilliam

HR – White (1st)

DP – Robinson (L1-3), Hodges (L4-3), Furcal (1-6-3), Cain (5-4-3)

SB – Lopes, Wilson, Smith

CS – Escobar

SH – Hodges

 

Innings:

Appier 8.1

Holland 0.2 (great stuff)

Quisenberry 3.0

Soria 1.1

 

Koufax 5.0

Gagne 1.0 (terrrible stuff)

Broxton 1.0

Pfeffer 1.0

Perranoski 2.0

Jansen 3.0

Howell 1.0

Rest Rules for game #2 on 10/29, off day is now 11/1

Dodgers

Kershaw 1 day rest, eligible 10/30

Koufax 3 days rest, eligible 11/1

Jansen 1 day rest, eligible 10/30

Gagne, 3 inning limit

Broxton, 3 inning limit

Pfeffer, 3 inning limit

Perranoski 2 inning limit

Howell 3 inning limit

Royals:

Appier 3 days rest, eligible 11/1

Quisenberry 1 day rest, eligible 10/30

Holland 3.1 inning limit

Soria 2.2 inning limit

 

Serie del Caribe 2018

November 26 – play continues south of the border as the Latin American winter leagues enter their final month of “regular season” action.  Here’s the latest:

MEXICO – first-half play in the LMP (Liga Mexicana del Pacifico) concluded on Sunday, November 19.  First-half results were:

Naranjeros de Hermosillo were awarded first place, and the eight points that go along with it, by virtue of their winning the first-half series against both Tomateros de Culiacan and Venados de Mazatlán.

Second-half play is now only a week old, with Aguilas de Mexicali and Venados tied for the lead at 4-1.

Sebastian Elizalde of the Tomateros leads LMP hitters with a .383 batting average.  He is a Reds farmhand who had a solid summer season at Louisville of the International League, recording a .707 OPS in 134 games played.

CUBA – second-half action continues with the current standings at:

Team W L GB
Las Tunas  44 21
 Matanzas 43 23 1.5
 Industriales 40 26 4.5
 Granma 38 28 6.5
 Artemisa 35 33 10.5
 Pinar del Rio  34 33 11.0

Las Tunas and Matanzas have played well in the second half and seem to be consolidating their positions as 1-2.  Artemisa and Pinar will both have to rally to make the playoffs (the top four clubs advance to the semi-finals in January).  There are four weeks remaining in the SN57 regular season.

Veteran Las Tunas DH/OF Danel Castro logged his 2000th hit in Serie Nacional play earlier this month.  He is only the 21st player to achieve that mark in 57 years of SN play.

DOMINICANA

Tigres del Licey are celebrating the club’s 110th anniversary this season.  They have achieved 22 LiDOM league titles and won 10 Series del Caribe in their long, successful history.

Current standings in the Dominican Republic are:

Team W L GB
Aguilas 18 12
Gigantes 18 13 0.5
Estrellas 16 13 1.5
Licey 15 17 4.0
Escogido 14 17 4.5
Toros 11 20 7.5

VENEZUELA – Leones de Caracas have won 15 of 20 games since last report and have surged into first place in the Liga Venezolana de Beisbol Profesional (LVBP).  Current standings are:

Team W L GB
Caracas 25 15
Aragua 22 16 2.0
Magallanes 22 18 3.0
Zulia 19 19 5.0
Lara 18 19 5.5
Caribes 18 22 7.0
La Guaira 16 22 8.0
Margarita 15 24 9.0

Magallanes OF/DH Jesus Valdez, a veteran Dominican who has played in the minors with the Cubs and Nats, leads the LVBP in HR (13), RBI (46) and Runs Scored (34).

PUERTO RICO – as the Enchanted Island continues to recover from Hurricane Maria, planning continues for a short 21-game “regular season” to begin January 6.

In the meantime, Puerto Ricans can celebrate the naming of Dave Martinez as manager of the Washington Nationals.  A New Yorker of Puerto Rican heritage, he joins Alex Cora as current dirigentes puertorriqueños en Grandes Ligas.

November 3 – there’s no need for “baseball withdrawal” after an exciting World Series in the U.S. — there’s plenty of baseball action south of the border.  Here are some highlights:

CUBA – Serie Nacional 57 second-half action is underway.  Defending champs Granma, along with Artemisa, won their wild-card rounds and join Industriales, Las Tunas, Matanzas, and Pinar del Rio in second-half action.  Each of the advancing six teams selected five refuerzos (reinforcements) from the rosters of the teams that were eliminated.  Slugging DH/1B Frederich Cepeda was drafted by Pinar del Rio.

Current SN57 standings for the second half are as follows (remember that first-half W/L results carry over to the second half):

Team W L GB
Industriales  34  16  —
 Las Tunas  33 16 0.5
 Granma  32 19 2.5
 Matanzas 31 19 3.0
 Pinar del Rio 29 22 5.5
 Artemisa  27 24 7.5

Granma is riding a 12-game winning streak that has jumped them up to third place currently.  Pinar del Rio has won only three of their last ten.

VENEZUELA – Navegantes de Magallanes are celebrating their 100th anniversary this season.  Venezuelans around the baseball world are reveling in the success of countryman Jose Altuve (el Astroboy) in the World Series.

Current LVBP standings are:

Team W L GB
Tigres de Aragua 16 4
Aguilas del Zulia 10 9 5.5
Leones de Caracas 10 10 6.0
Navegantes 10 10 6.0
Bravos de Margarita 9 11 7.0
Cardenales de Lara 9 11 7.0
Tiburones de La Guaira 8 12 8.0
Caribes de Anzoátegui 8 13 8.5

MEXICO – the LMP is in its fourth week of play and the standings are crowded; only 2 games separate the top five clubs:

Team W L GB
Culiacan 12 8
Jalisco 12 8
Hermosillo 11 9 1.0
Mazatlán 11 9 1.0
Mexicali 10 10 2.0
Los Mochis 9 11 3.0
Navojoa 8 12 4.0
Cd. de Obregon 7 13 5.0

DOMINICANA – Estrellas (San Pedro) have taken a one-game lead in the LiDOM standings through three weeks of play:

Team W L GB
Estrellas 10 4
Gigantes 9 5 1.0
Escogido 8 6 2.0
Aguilas 7 7 3.0
Licey 4 10 6.0
Toros 4 10 6.0

PUERTO RICO – native son Alex Cora is having a great baseball year.  The native of Caguas has played, managed, and been the GM of hometown Criollos de Caguas and they won la Serie del Caribe in February.  He was GM of the Puerto Rican team in the World Baseball Classic, and they had a great run finishing second in March.  He has just won a World Series as bench coach for the Astros.  And to top it off, he has signed a multi-year deal to become manager of the Boston Red Sox.

October 17 – the Cuban Serie Nacional has reached the half-way mark and the winter leagues are now underway in Mexico, Dominicana, and Venzuela.  Here’s the latest:

CUBA – SN57 has completed the first half of its season.  The top-four teams in the standings advance to the second half.  They are:

1-Industriales, 2-Las Tunas, 3-Matanzas, 4-Pinar del Rio

The teams in positions 5-8 advance to best-of-three wildcard series, as follows:

5-Granma (the defending SN champion) plays 8-Villa Clara; and 6-Artemisa plays 7-Ciego de Avila.  The two winners will also advance to the second half of the season.

MEXICO – the Liga Mexicana del Pacifico has completed its first week of play.  Culiacan and Jalisco are in the early lead with perfect 5-0 records.

DOMINICANA – likewise, the LiDOM is also under way.  Escogido, Estrellas and Gigantes are all 2-0.

VENEZUELA – Tigres de Aragua and Aguilas de Zulia are 4-1, with Leones de Caracas at 5-2.

October 7 – the weather made big news for baseball in Latin America.  Mother Nature and her offspring Irma, Maria, and the Terremoto twins caused havoc in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.

CUBA – Hurricane Irma forced the postponement of two series (six games) of Serie Nacional 57.  These games are being made up now in order to complete the first half of the season and determine which six of the sixteen clubs will advance to the second half of the SN57 season.

Riding a 5-game winning streak Las Tunas has pulled to within a half-game of first-place Industriales (Havana) and both clubs have passed Pinar del Rio – who now sit in third place after going 3-7 in their last 10 games.  First-half games are due to complete October 9.

Your author had the unique experience of attending Cubaball 2017 in late September.  Our weeklong trip to see Cuban baseball is the creation of SABR member Kit Krieger, and was hosted this year by his brother Bob, travel empresario Clem Paredes Rodriguez, and Cuban baseball expert and writer Peter Bjarkman.  We visited ballparks in Havana, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara, Artemisa, and Pinar del Rio.  The interaction with Cuban ballplayers – past and present – as well as the Cuban people was memorable.   I would recommend this trip to any aficionado of beisbol latinoamericano.

A typical SN stadium, Estadio 5 de Septiembre in Cienfuegos (top).  Cubaball travelers at grave site of El Inmortal Martin Dihigo in Cruces (bottom).  Martin Dihigo Jr. is second from left and your author is kneeling on the right.  Photos courtesy of Joel Greene with additional thanks to Ted Leavengood and Elena North.

PUERTO RICO – Hurricane Maria caused tremendous damage to the island and has forced a major postponement of the winter season.  At a press conference held Thursday (October 5), it was announced that a much-shortened season would begin January 6, 2018.  The “regular season” will consist of 21 games, played during the day and including Saturday and Sunday doubleheaders.  Admission will be free.  A short playoff series will be held in late January to determine which team will advance to the Caribbean Series.  Puerto Rico is the defending Serie del Caribe champion.

MEXICO – a two-game All Star Series was held jointly by the summer (LMB) and winter (LMP) leagues as a demonstration of cooperation and solidarity in support of earthquake victims.  The teams were integrated across the two leagues and the games were held in Culiacan (home of the LMP Tomateros) and Monterrey (home of the LMB Sultanes) on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

The winter regular season will commence next week in MEXICO (Oct. 10), VENEZUELA (Oct. 10), and DOMINICANA (Oct. 13).

September 3 – the Caribbean Confederation, the ruling body of Latin American winter leagues, held its Assembly of Presidents in Jalisco, Mexico and confirmed details of the upcoming Serie del Caribe 2018 to be held in Zapopan, Jalisco, Mexico.  Items of note are:

Schedule – the Series will open Friday February 2 and conclude on Thursday February 8.  The complete schedule is posted above.

Format of competition – the five-team format used since Cuba re-entered competition in 2014 will be continued.  The five clubs (the champions of the Cuban, Mexican, Dominican, Puerto Rican, and Venezuelan winter leagues) will play an initial four game round-robin.  When the round-robin phase is concluded, the bottom team in the standings will be eliminated and the top four teams will enter a knock-out semi-final round.  The two semi-final winners will then play one game for the championship.

Estadio Charros expansion – the host ballpark will be expanded from 12,000 to 16,000 seats, using private investment committed for the project.

Cuban participation – the commissioner of the Caribbean Confederation, Juan Francisco Puello, was asked about the current and future status of Cuban participation in the Series.  He commented that the Cubans are again participating as invitees in 2018, but that he was confident that they would eventually rejoin the Caribbean Confederation.  When asked a follow-up as to when that might occur, he responded “That depends on the politics.”

In other winter leagues news:

CUBA – SN 57 is well underway, and the current standings follow.  Remember that the Cubans play a split season, and after the initial 45 games only the top six teams advance.

Team Wins Losses
 Pinar del Rio  16  3
 Las Tunas  14 6
Industriales (Havana) 13 7
 Santiago de Cuba  12 7
 Ciego de Ávila  13 8
Matanzas 12 9
 Artemisa 12 9
 Villa Clara 10 11
Sancti Spíritus 10 11
 Holguín 10 11
Granma 10 11
Camagüey 8 13
Isla de la Juventud 8 13
Mayabeque 8 13
Cienfuegos 6 15
Guantánamo 3 18

VENEZUELA – the LVBP announced that it will proceed with its 2017-18 schedule after the government committed $10M USD from its foreign exchange reserves to help the league buy equipment and pay for the contracts of imported players.

PUERTO RICO – the LBPRC announced approval for a new ownership group for the Santurce franchise.  Also announced were cost-control measures for the upcoming 2017-18 season, including playing more doubleheaders.

MEXICO -the LMP has changed their roster rules to increase the number of foreign-born players allowed per active club roster to eight (8).  This is viewed as a necessary hedge should the Mexican summer league (LMB) follow through with its plans to play an elongated split-season schedule in summer-fall 2018.  Should the LMB extend its schedule into November 2018, this will impact the number of Mexican players that would be available to the LMP for the first month of the Mexican winter league schedule.

August 4 – the start of the Winter Leagues is upon us!  Serie Nacional 57 opens play in Cuba on August 5 with defending champs Granma hosting Villa Clara.  Here are a few news items from the “off season”:

CHANGE IN LOCATION FOR SERIE DEL CARIBE 2018 – The host location for the upcoming Caribbean Series had been announced as Barquisimeto, Lara, Venezuela.  However, due to the ongoing social and political unrest in Venezuela, the Caribbean Confederation voted on June 14 to move the Series to Mexico.  The Liga Mexicana del Pacifico (LMP) then promptly voted to host Serie del Caribe 2018 in Guadalajara, Jaliso.

The location for the upcoming Series will be Estadio Charros in Zapopan, Jalisco State, a suburb of Guadalajara.  This is the same stadium that hosted second-round play in the World Baseball Classic 2017, and is the home field of the Charros de Jalisco club of the LMP.

OPENING WINTER LEAGUE DATES:

SN 57 Cuba August 5
LVBP Venezuela October 10
LMP Mexico October 10
LiDOM Dominicana October 13
LBPRC Puerto Rico November 9

INTER-LEAGUE CONTROVERSY IN MEXICO – the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB), the Mexican summer league, has announced plans to operate a split-season in 2018 that will extend that league’s schedule into November.  This will overlap with the beginning of the winter league schedule of the LMP, as well as cause conflicts among those players that currently play in both the LMB and LMP.

More to come on this hot topic.

Serie del Caribe 2017

sdelc-logo-2017estadio-tomateros

por Ing. Monte Allan Cely J.

diablo y angel

Your author with the two Juan Antonios, and with Mexican fanaticos Jhonny and Martín.

PUERTO RICO WINS SERIE DEL CARIBE 2017

Puerto Rico defeated Mexico 1-0 in ten innings to win their first Caribbean Series crown since the 1999-2000 Winter Season.  Yadiel Rivera doubled to lead off the top of the tenth, was sacrificed to third, and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Jonathan Morales.

Mexico was held to only four hits by the Criollos pitching staff.

Puerto Rican third baseman David Vidal was voted MVP of Serie del Caribe 2017.

REFLECTIONS ON SERIE DEL CARIBE 2017

This was my seventh Serie del Caribe and I feel that it was the best one yet.  Estadio Tomateros is a major-league quality facility, but with only half the capacity.  You are close to the action but have all the amenities of an MLB stadium.  The city of Culiacán, Club Tomateros, and the LMP rolled out the red carpet for the fans.  The stadium was filled to capacity every evening that the home team played.  Attendance at capacity was usually reported as 19,177 tickets sold, but the total figure from the pressbox was in excess of 24,000.

I felt that the level of competition was very equal across the five clubs, with the possible exception of Dominicana.  Cuba fielded a strong club and I was told that their roster would closely resemble the national team that will play next month in the World Baseball Classic.  Mexico and Venezuela were strong as usual.  And of course the Puerto Rican club got hot late in the tournament and took the crown.

A big muchas gracias to my good friend Juan Antonio Jasso (with me in picture below) and his wife Carmen for hosting me before and after Serie del Caribe.  They were very gracious to put me up at their beautiful home in Concordia, Sinaloa and take me back and forth to the Mazatlan airport, as well as to and from Culiacán.  Their kindness greatly added to my enjoyment.

¡ Adios ! from Culiacán.  Thanks for reading !

POSTSCRIPT – WHAT’S NEXT ? — Here are a few rumors and other topics that I read or heard while in Mexico:  Serie del Caribe 2018 is scheduled for Barquisimeto, Venezuela.  Should the political and social concerns in Venezuela not settle down somewhat, there was much discussion as to where the upcoming Serie del Caribe might be relocated.  The most common alternative, should it be needed, is to return to Mexico.  The best bets among LMP venues are either Ciudad Obregón (new stadium) or Guadalajara (large city, lots of accommodations for incoming fans).

There was also talk about when Cuba might be expected to take its turn in hosting a Serie del Caribe.  The Cubans would have to first rejoin the Caribbean Baseball Confederation, as they have been participating as an invited guest since 2014.  That will supposedly happen in 2018.  So the current thinking is that the Cubans will host no earlier than 2020.

Another topic concerns what other countries may enter (or re-enter) the Caribbean Baseball Confederation and send a representative to a future Serie del Caribe.  Newspaper articles in Culiacán speculated that Panama may re-enter the competition in the next few years.

¡ Vamos a ver !  We shall see!

DAY SIX February 6, 2017

Puerto Rico and Mexico advance to the finals of Serie del Caribe 2017 !

Puerto Rico defeated Venezuela 9-6 in Game One today to qualify for tomorrow´s final.  The Puerto Rican club will be looking for their first Serie del Caribe title since 2000.  The home team from Mexico will provide the opposition as they defeated Cuba 1-0.  Mexico will strive to win their fifth title in the past seven series.

Puerto Rico 9 – Venezuela 6 — Puerto Rico´s offense continued to fire on all cylinders as they jumped to a 8-0 lead and held on for the win.  Six Puerto Rican starters had at least one RBI, with David Vidal slugging his third homer of the series.  Venezuela tallied 16 hits and 4 walks but could not overcome the early Criollos outburst.

Mexico 1 – Cuba 0 — in a rematch of last night´s game, Mexico was able to prevail on the strength of starter Miguel Pena´s five innings and shutout relief from the bullpen.  The Mexican pitching staff allowed only 2 hits and 2 walks.  Cuban starter Lazaro Blanco allowed only one run in 7 innings, but took the tough loss.

DAY FIVE February 5, 2017

Venezuela 4 – Dominicana 3 — Rene Reyes homered with Ronnie Cedeño aboard in the bottom of the 8th to give Venezuela a come-from-behind victory over Dominicana.  For the second consecutive year the Dominican team was swept in the Serie del Carie round-robin.

Cuba 4 – Mexico 0 — Alfredo Despaigne broke out of a slump with the 3-run homer to power the Cuban squad past defending champions Mexico.  The home team could not solve Cuban starter Vladimir Banos, who pitched 8.2 innings for the win.

This concludes the round-robin phase of Serie del Caribe 2017.  The standings are:

Team W L Qual?
Cuba 3 1 Y
Mexico 3 1 Y
Venezuela 3 1 Y
Puerto Rico 1 3 Y
Dominicana 0 4 N

The Cuban team was awarded first place in the round-robin due to tie-breaker rules.

The semi-finals will pit Cuba vs. Puerto Rico and Mexico vs. Venezuela.

Both semi-finals will be played February 6, with the finals slated for February 7.  Stand by …

DAY FOUR February 4, 2017

Pre-game, we took a field trip to the Sinaloa Baseball Museum and Academy.

This facility is a state-of-the-art interactive baseball museum and also a baseball development academy.  My understanding is that it was built with funding by the state of Sinaloa and MLB serves in an advisory capacity.  The museum was impressive.  I was able to walk out among the ball fields, however the coaches were not interested in seeing me take a few swings …

 

Puerto Rico 10 – Dominicana 2 — the Dominican club is eliminated, for the second straight year, and Criollos de Caguas advance to the semi-finals.  Rusney Castillo led the PR attack with a homer and three RBIs.  Ivan de Jesús, Jr. added two RBI and scored three times.  Eight Licey pitchers could not stop the Puerto Rican offensive outburst.

Venezuela 8 – Cuba 3 — Venezuela mounted a 15-hit attack, led by Freddy Galvis and Ronnie Cedeno with three each.  Cuban starter Freddy Alvarez was lifted with only one out in the first inning after Venezuela jumped out to a 3-0 lead.  Cuban 2B Carlos Benitez tied the game in the second with a 3-run homer.  However, Venezuela continued to chip away at the Cuban bullpen and took advantage of two Cuba errors to post the win.  Wil Ledezma was the winner in relief for Zulia.

DAY THREE February 3, 2017

Today was the induction ceremony for the Caribbean Series Hall of Fame.

The inductees, from left to right, are:

Vinnie Castilla, Erubiel Durazo, Miguel Flores, Benjamin Reyes (accepted posthumously by his son), Alfonso Araujo Bojórquez, and Juan Manuel Ley (accepted posthumously by his son)

 

 

 

Cuba 6 – Puerto Rico 1 — Cuban pitching was sharp again, with starter Vladimir Garcia going six innings for the win and the Cuban bullpen again held their opponents scoreless.  William Saavedra´s 2-run homer in the 7th sealed the win for Cuba.  The Cuban squad continued to look strong on both offense and defense.

Mexico 5 – Venezuela 1 — This game was Águilas contra Águilas – Eagles vs. Eagles.  Sebastián Valle´s walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth won the game for Méxicali.  Barry Enright started for Mexico and pitched 5 strong innings allowing only one run.  The Mexican bullpen wrapped up with four scoreless innings and Oliver Perez got the win.

With these results, the standings for todos-contra-todos – the round robin phase – after three days of play are:

Team Won Loss
Mexico 3 0
Cuba 2 0
Venezuela 1 1
Puerto Rico 0 2
Dominicana 0 2

DAY TWO February 2, 2017

We were joined at breakfast by Eduardo Almada, a fellow SABR member and well-known broadcaster and columnist.  Eddie is also the son of Baldomero “Melo” Almada, the first Mexican-born pelotero to play in the U.S. major leagues.  We had a far-ranging discussion with Eddie on baseball topics both north- and south-of-the-border.

We had a late lunch at the stadium club at Estadio Tomateros:

Venezuela 4 – Puerto Rico 3 — Venezuelan catcher Jesus Flores´ 2-run homer in the top of the second put Zulia ahead to stay.  David Vidal homered for Caguas in the 8th to make it close at 4-3, but that was how the final score stood.

Mexico 7 – Dominicana 2 — Jason Bourgeois 2 RBI triple put Mexicali ahead in the fifth inning and CJ Retherford´s 3-run homer in the top of the seventh broke the game open.  Chris Roberson was 4-5 with two runs scored.  Starter Hector Velazquez pitched five innings for the win and the bullpen shut down Licey the rest of the way.  The game was another sellout with attendance over 19,000.

After the first two days of play, the round-robin phase standings are:

Team Won Loss
Mexico 2 0
Venezuela 1 0
Cuba 1 0
Puerto Rico 0 2
Dominicana 0 2

DAY ONE February 1, 2017

Cuba 4 – Dominicana 0 — Cuban leadoff hitter Roel Santos tripled and scored on a passed ball in the top of the first.  That was all the offense Cuba needed as they posted a shutout in the Series opener.  Granma starter Lazaro Blanco threw 6.1 innings and was relieved by Liran Moinelo who got all of the final eight outs.

Mexico 4 – Puerto Rico 2 — Mexicali stalwart Chris Roberson broke a 1-1 tie with a two run homer in the bottom of the seventh.  Yunieski Betancourt added a homer in the 8th to give Mexico an insurance run.  Mexican starter Daniel Rodriguez and three relievers allowed only five Criollos hits.

Opening Ceremonies — we were treated to a fantastic light show and Dodgers rookie pitcher Julio Urias threw out the ceremonial first pitch.  Attendance was announced at 19,177.

Your author and fellow SABR member Lewis Rubman doing some sight-seeing in downtown Culiacan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 31, 2017

I´ve arrived in Culiacan, Sinaloa and the city is hopping with anticipation of the start of Serie del Caribe.  On the TV news this morning, they are reporting that all hotels in the Culiacan metro area are lleno (sold out).

I will report further tomorrow or as there is any breaking news.

Stay tuned …

January 29, 2017

THE FINAL FIELD IS SET FOR SERIE DEL CARIBE 2017:

The five champions of the participating winter leagues have been determined, as follows:

Águilas de Méxicali wins its fourth LMP title.  The Eagles represent the Baja California city of Mexicali.  Their home park is Estadio B-Air.

 

Tigres del Licey is one of the most-storied of Dominican clubs.  The 2016-17 LiDOM title is their 22nd.  Their home field is Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal in the capital city of Santo Domingo.

Criollos de Caguas is a historic Puerto Rican team and this year’s title is the 17th in their history.  They play at Parque Yldefonso Sola’ Morales in the central Puerto Rican city of Caguas.

Águilas del Zulia won its sixth Venezuelan title and appear in Serie del Caribe for the first time in 17 years.  They play in Estadio Luis Aparacio in Maracaibo.

Alazanes de Granma won its first Serie Nacional title.  The Sorrel Colts play in Bayamo, the seat of Granma province.

Serie del Caribe 2017 will get underway Wednesday, February 1 in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico, the capital city of the state of Sinaloa.  The tournament will run through February 7 (see the game schedule, below).  The site will be the one-year-old Estadio Tomateros (also known by its naming-rights as Estadio BBVA Bancomer).  The stadium has a capacity of 20,000 with dimensions of 322′ down both foul lines and 410′ in straight-away center field.

The winter league winners from Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Cuba will again compete for the title of “The Caribbean World Series”.  The system of competition will be the same as in the past few years:

Phase 1 – A five-team, four-game round robin after which the bottom team will be eliminated.

Phase 2 – Two semi-final games pitting the #1 vs. #4 finishers and the #2 vs. #3 finishers from Phase 1.

Final – A single-game finale between the two semi-final winners.

The schedule for Serie del Caribe 2017 is as follows (note that Culiacán observes U.S. Mountain time during winter months):sdelc-schedule-2017

Every year I make my travel arrangements with Travesias Mundiales, a travel agency in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.  The owner, Thelma Acosta, and her team always do a great job with the logistics and make my travel easy and enjoyable.  Their web site is here.

Thelma (red jacket) and her team at Travesias Mundiales in Hermosillo.

WINTER LEAGUE PLAYOFFS 2017

January 28, 2017

MEXICO – Méxicali clinched the LMP crown with a 13-1 victory at Los Mochis.  Águilas took the series 4 games to 2.  This is the fourth league championship for the Eagles and their first since the 1998-99 season.

 

DOMINICANA – the LiDOM final series went all the way to a ninth and final game.  Emilio Bonifacio’s three-RBI double in the decisive top of the 6th inning powered Tigres del Licey to the win over Águilas Cibaeñas 6-2.  This is Licey’s 22nd Dominican league title.

 

January 25, 2017

PUERTO RICO – Caguas defeated Santurce 6-5 in 12 innings before a standing-room-only home crowd of 11,200 at Parque Yldefonso Sola Morales.  Los Criollos thereby clinch the Puerto Rican winter crown, 5 games to 3, and advance to La Serie del Caribe 2017.

 

VENEZUELA – Águilas del Zulia clinched the Venezuelan title with a 5-2 win at home over Cardenales de Lara.  Zulia prevailed four games to one in the finals.  Over 19,800 fans were in attendance at Estadio Luis Aparicio in Maracaibo to see their club take their first Venezuelan title in 17 years.

 

In MEXICO, Los Mochis and Méxicali are tied 2-2 in their best-of-seven final series.  In the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, Licey leads Águilas 4-2 in their best-of-nine finals.   Both series continue their action tonight.

January 23, 2017

CUBA – Granma swept by Ciego de Ávila four games to none and clinched its first-ever Serie Nacional championship.  Los Alazanes dispatched the defending SN champions in the finals after sending home the regular-season champion Matanzas club in the semi-finals.  This is the first corona for Granma in its 40 seasons competing in Serie Nacional.

If, like me, the name “Granma” sounds familiar, it is not only the name of the Cuban province where the club plays, but also the name of the yacht that brought Castro and his revolutionaries back to Cuba from Mexico in 1956.  El yate is featured in the team logo.  Furthermore, it is the name of the official party newspaper published in Havana.

Granma now advances to la Serie del Caribe and awaits the determination of the other four league champions.

PUERTO RICO – Caguas leads Santurce 4-3 in the best-of-nine finals.

DOMINICANA – Licey and Águilas are tied 2-2 in the best-of-nine finale.

VENEZUELA – Zulia leads Lara 2-0 in the best-of-seven finals.

MEXICO – Los Mochis and Méxicali are tied 1-1 in the best-of-seven finale.

January 20, 2017 – both Mexican Pacific League semi-finals went down to a deciding seventh game last night:

Méxicali prevailed over Hermosillo 4-3 in 16 innings at Estadio B-Air in Baja California.

Los Mochis defeated Culiacán 3-1 to join Méxicali in the LMP finals.  Los Cañeros will have the home-field advantage and will host the opening game of the best-of-seven finale in Los Mochis on Saturday, January 21.

The other four Winter League final series situations are:

CUBA – Granma leads Ciego de Ávila 2 games – none in their best-of-seven series.

DOMINICANA – Águilas lead Licey 1-0 in their best-of-nine series.

VENEZUELA – Lara and Zulia open the final series tonight.

PUERTO RICO – Santurce leads Caguas 3 games to 2 in their best-of-nine.  Fellow SABR member Angel Colon sends these action photos:

John Brownell (Criollos) and Adalberto Flores (Cangrejeros) on the mound

Update as of January 18, 2017 – two more semi-final series have been completed:

DOMINICANA – the LiDOM round-robin phase wrapped up last night with the final standings at:

Team W L GB
Águilas 14 4 -5.0
Licey 9 9
Gigantes 8 10 1
Escogido 5 13 4

Águilas were in command of the todos-contra-todos from the beginning, opening up a comfortable lead and clinching a spot in the finals with several games to play.  Licey and Gigantes battled to the final game for the second ticket to the finals, with Licey prevailing by one game.

Águilas will have the home-field advantage in the best-of-nine final series and will host Licey at Estadio Cibao on Thursday January 19th.

VENEZUELA – Cardenales de Lara and Águilas de Zulia both prevailed in the semi-final rounds by dispatching their opponents 4 games to 1.  The seven-game final series will open on Friday January 20 with regular-season champs Cardenales opening at home in Barquisimeto hosting Zulia.

January 16, 2017

CUBA – after compiling a 70-win season and leading in the standings the entire way, los Cocodrilos de Matanzas were upset in a seven game semi-final series by Granma.  The “Chestnut Colts” now advance to the finals to play defending Serie Nacional champs Ciego de Ávila.  The SN56 finals begin Wednesday, January 18.

Here’s the latest in the Latin American Winter Leagues playoffs as of January 12, 2017

PUERTO RICO – the first round (semi-finals) of the LBPRC finished on Wednesday January 11.  Regular-season winner Santurce advances to the finals by defeating Carolina 4 games to 1.  Regular-season runner-up Mayaguez was upset by Caguas 4-2.

The LBPRC finals therefore will feature los Cangrejeros de Santurce holding the home-field advantage over Criollos de Caguas in the 9-game final series beginning Saturday, January 14.

Fellow SABR member Angel Colon sent these action photos from San Juan:

LBPRC batting champion Danny Ortiz (Mayagüez) (top left), ERA leader Adalberto Flores (Santurce) (top right), “Dice – K” in action with Carolina (bottom)

VENEZUELA – first round (quarter-finals) play also concluded Wednesday January 11 in the LVBP.  Results are:

Cardenales de Lara prevailed over Margarita, 4 games to 3.

Águilas de Zulia swept Tigres de Aragua 4-0.

Caribes de Anzoátegui prevailed over Tiburones de La Guaira 4-3.

In the LVBP, the wild card is determined by a one-game play-in pitting the two losing first-round teams with the best regular-season records.  This resulted in a loser-goes-home game between La Guaira and Aragua.  This game was held Wednesday night, January 11 in Maracay.  The Sharks won 4-2 and also advance to the semi-finals.

The LVBP semi-finals begin January 12 with Lara hosting La Guaira in Barquisimeto and with Caribes hosting Zulia in Puerto la Cruz.

MEXICO – first round action wrapped up in the LMP on Monday January 9.  The first round series concluded as follows:

Los Mochis defeated Mazatlan four games to one.

Mexicali defeated Navojoa four games to two.

Hermosillo prevailed over Culiacán four games to three.  Over 19,000 fans witnessed game seven at Estadio Tomateros, the site of the upcoming Serie del Caribe.  Both clubs advance to the semi-finals as los Tomateros qualify as the comodín (wild card) with the best record among the first-round losing teams.

The LMP semi-finals will commence on January 11, with the pairings as follows:

Los Mochis will host Culiacán and will have the home-field advantage in the 2-3-2 best-of-seven series format.

Likewise, Mexicali will host Hermosillo and have the home-field advantage.

DOMINICANA – the LiDOM first-round, round robin play continues with the standings at:

Team W L GB
Águilas 10 2 -4.0
Licey 5 7 1.0
Escogido 5 8 1.5
Gigantes 4 7 1.5

After the 18-game round-robin is completed, the top two teams will advance to the Dominican finals.

CUBA – in the Serie Nacional semi-finals, defending champs Ciego de Ávila defeated Villa Clara 4 games to 2 and advance to the SN finals.  Regular-season leaders Matanzas currently lead Granma 3-2.

SERIE DEL CARIBE SALON DE FAMA – this year’s inductees will be players Vinny Castilla, Erubiel Durazo and Miguel Flores; executive Juan Manuel Ley; manager Benjamin Cananea-Reyes, and sportswriter Alfonso Araujo Bojórquez.  My good friend Juan Antonio Jasso advises that the induction ceremonies will be Friday February 3 in Culiacán.

WINTER REGULAR SEASON 2016-2017 – final regular season results as of January 1, 2017

MEXICO – the final standings for the second-half of the winter season are:

When the PTS earned are added to the first-half results, the resulting final positions are as follows:

According to the playoff rules for qualification in Mexico, the bottom two teams – Yaquis de Óbregon and Charros de Jalisco – are eliminated.  The remaining six teams will play best-of-seven series beginning on January 2 with the pairings as indicated above:  Mayos de Navajoa will host Águilas de Méxicali;   Cañeros de Los Mochis will host Venados de Mazatlán; and Tomateros de Culiacán will host Naranjeros de Hermosillo.

DOMINICANA – the regular season was a close-run affair from opening day to the close of the season.  The finals standings were:

Team Wins Losses GB Qualified?
Gigantes del Cibao 27 23 yes
Tigres del Licey 26 24 1 yes
Águilas Cibaeñas 25 25 2 yes
Leones del Escogido 25 25 2 yes
Toros del Este 25 26 3 no
Estrellas Orientales 23 27 4 no

The top four teams advance to a todos-contra-todos ronda (round-robin phase), where each club will play the other three qualifiers six times (18 games per team).   The top two clubs emerging from the round-robin will play each other in a final series to determine who will advance to La Serie del Caribe 2017.

CUBA – the final standings for the six teams participating in the second phase of Serie Nacional 56 are:

Team W L GB Qual?
Matanzas 70 20 yes
Ciego de Ávila 56 34 14 yes
Villa Clara 52 38 18 yes
Granma 50 40 20 yes
Holguín 43 47 27 no
Camagüey 39 51 31 no

Los Cocodrilos de Matanzas led the Serie Nacional throughout the first- and second-halves, finishing the season on a 9-game winning streak.  The Crocodiles set a SN 90-game season record with 70 victories.  The semi-final pairings will commence on January 4 and have the Crocodiles hosting Granma, and defending champions Ciego de Ávila hosting Villa Clara.

VENEZUELA – the final LVBP standings were:

Team W L GB Qual?
Lara 39 24 yes
Caribes 34 29 5 yes
Zulia 33 30 6 yes
Margarita 30 33 9 yes
La Guaira 30 33 9 yes
Aragua 30 33 9 yes
Magallanes 29 34 10 no
Caracas 27 36 12 no

The bottom five clubs in the LVBP battled to the final games to determine who would nail down the last three playoff spots.  Traditional power-houses and long-time rivals Magallanes and Caracas were left out of the January action.  For the first round of the playoffs, Lara will host Margarita, Caribes will host La Guaira, and Zulia will host Aragua in best-of-seven series.

PUERTO RICO – fellow SABR member Lewis Rubman advises that Daisuke Matsuzaka is trying to rejuvenate the gyro-ball in Puerto Rican winter league play.  Pitching for Gigantes de Carolina, Dice-K compiled a 2.70 ERA in 20 IP, with an opponents’ BA of only .197.  Perhaps a return to MLB?

The final standings from the enchanted island were:

Team W L GB Qual?
Santurce 28 12 yes
Mayagüez 26 14 2 yes
Caguas 19 21 9 yes
Carolina 16 24 12 yes
Aguadilla 11 29 17 no

The Cangrejeros and Indios were on top of the standings at 1-2 for most of the season.  Santurce will host Carolina and Mayagüez will host Caguas in semi-final action beginning on January 3.

WINTER REGULAR SEASON 2016-2017 — as of December 11, 2016

PANAMA – fellow SABR member Kit Crissey advises that his friend Bill Hockenbury passed away recently at age 92.  Hockenbury logged nine seasons in the U.S. minor leagues and played with the Carta Vieja Yankees in the Panama Winter League in the 1950s.  He pitched in la Serie del Caribe for the Yankees in 1954 and defeated Almendares 5-1, allowing just two hits.

PUERTO RICO – SABR member Angel Colon shared some pictures of this winter season’s action in the LBPRC.

 

Clockwise from upper left – Corey Black pitching for Santurce; game action Indios at Tiburones; Phil Evans batting for Caguas; Kasuma Okamoto and Ozzie Martinez in the field for Carolina.

Team Wins Losses GB
Santurce 20 8
Mayagüez 17 10 2.5
Caguas 13 14 6.5
Carolina 12 18 9
Aguadilla 7 19 12

With about three weeks to play in the regular season, Santurce has widened its hold on first place.  The top four teams will advance to the January play-offs.

Royals prospect Emmanuel Rivera leads the league in hitting at .386.

MEXICO – LMP league standings for la segunda vuelta are:

Team Wins Losses GB
Mayos (Navajoa) 11 6
Venados (Mazatlan) 11 6
Águilas (Mexicali) 10 7 1
Cañeros (Los Mochis) 9 8 2
Naranjeros (Hermosillo) 9 8 2
Yaquis (Cd. de Obregón) 7 10 4
Charros (Jalisco) 6 11 5
Tomateros (Culiacán) 5 12 6

First-half winners Tomateros are now in the basement during second-half play.  The points earned in the first half will be added to the points earned by the second-half finish to determine the top six teams to advance to post-season play in January.

Former Dodgers farmhand Javier Solano leads LMP pitchers with 7 wins.

CUBA – Serie Nacional 56 play resumed December 4 after the mourning period for Fidel Castro.  With about 20 games left, the remaining six clubs are positioned as follows:

Team Wins Losses GB
Matanzas 55 16
Ciego de Ávila 48 22 6.5
Villa Clara 41 28 13
Granma 41 29 13.5
Holguín 33 37 21.5
Camagüey 32 38 22.5

The top four teams will advance to post-season play in January.  Matanzas has already qualified for the semi-finals due to their outstanding first-half record.

DOMINICANA – the current LIDOM standings are:

Team Wins Losses GB
Gigantes del Cibao 22 16
Tigres del Licey 21 18 1.5
Águilas Cibaeñas 20 20 3
Estrellas Orientales 20 20 3
Leones del Escogido 17 21 5
Toros del Este 17 22 5.5

The regular season race remains close among the Dominican clubs.  With the top four teams qualifying for the post-season, all the teams are still in the playoff hunt.

Ronnie Rodriguez leads the league with a .336 average.  Rodriguez played this past summer for the Cleveland Indians’ AAA affiliate in Columbus.

VENEZUELA – the top six clubs in the final regular season standings will advance to the in-country postseason playoffs.  The current situation is:

Team Wins Losses GB
Cardenales 30 22
Águilas 28 23 1.5
Caribes 27 25 3
Tiburones 25 24 3.5
Bravos 26 25 3.5
Tigres 22 26 6
Leones 21 27 7
Navegantes 21 28 7.5

With about three weeks to play, the two most iconic of the Venezuelan franchises – Leones de Caracas and Navegantes de Magallanes – are in danger of missing the post-season.

 

WINTER REGULAR SEASON 2016-17 — as of November 27, 2016

MEXICO – the first half of the LMP “split season” finished on November 20.  The complete first-half standings are as follows:

standing-primera-vuelta

The points (“PTS” column) assigned for the first-half finish will be added to the corresponding points earned for the second half to determine qualification for and seeding in the LMP post-season.

PUERTO RICO – the current standings in the LBPRC are as follows:

Team Wins Losses
Santurce 12 5
Caguas 11 6
Mayagüez 10 7
Carolina 9 12
Aguadilla 3 15

The poor showing on the field for the new Aguadilla Tiburones franchise has led to financial difficulties as well.  The club failed to make payroll earlier in November.  The situation was rectified over the next few days and management is hopeful this was a one-time occurence.

CUBA – the second phase of Serie Nacional 56 play has been suspended due to the death of Fidel Castro.  Play will resume on December 4 as the six qualifying teams play for positions in the post-season.  Current standings (which are cumulative of phase one play) are as follows:

Team Wins Losses
Matanzas  51  14
Ciego de Ávila  43  21
Granma  39  25
Villa Clara  38  26
Camagüey  31  33
Holguín  31  34

VENEZUELA – only two games separate the top four teams in the LVBP standings, and the top seven clubs are only 5 1/2 games apart:

Team Wins Losses
Zulia 24 17
Lara 23 18
La Guaira 21 18
Margarita 22 19
Anzoátegui 19 21
Magallanes 18 21
Aragua 17 21
Caracas 15 24

MLB journeyman Jose Castillo and Cardinals farmhand Breyvic Valera lead the LVBP in batting with .382 marks.

DOMINICANA – likewise, no one is running away from the field in the LiDOM.  The standings are:

Team Wins Losses
Gigantes 15 10
Escogido 15 12
Licey 14 13
Aguilas 14 16
Estrellas 12 15
Toros 13 17

Texas Rangers farmhand Hanser Alberto is leading the league in batting at .385.

 

OFF-SEASON/PRE-SEASON (Summer/early Fall) ITEMS OF NOTE

PUERTO RICO – la Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente (LBPRC) is expanding to five teams for the 2016-17 winter season.  A franchise from Puerto Rico’s baseball past, Tiburones de Aguadilla, has been added to the mix for the winter league.  The Sharks last competed in Puerto Rico’s top league in the 1950-51 season.

MÉXICO – la Liga Mexicana del Pacífico (LMP) continues its building program with the debut of Nuevo Estadio Yaquis in Ciudad Obregón, Sonora.  This new ballpark (opened October, 2016) joins other new or substantially rebuilt stadiums in Méxicali (to host 2009 Serie del Caribe), Hermosillo (to host 2013 Serie del Caribe) and Culiacán (2015).

To celebrate the opening of the new stadium in Cd. Obregón, the LMP is re-instituting a mid-season all-star game to be held there on Nov. 27.

pena-beisbolera-20august

Gracias to mi buen amigo Juan Antonio Jasso Rodriguez for his contribution to this post.  Juan Antonio (seated, right) is pictured hosting his radio show Peña Beisbolera in Hermosillo.

VENEZUELA – undeterred by political and economic challenges, la Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional (LVBP) announced that they intend to host the 2018 Serie del Caribe at Barquisimeto, home city of the Cardenales de Lara.

CUBA – sports authorities made further changes to the system of competition for Serie Nacional 56 (SN56).  In order to better align the ending of their season to the start of la Serie del Caribe (and eventually MLB spring training), and to improve the overall level of competition, the following changes were announced:

A First Phase of their schedule will be played from early August to late October.  All 16 teams in the top league will participate in this 45-game primera etapa.

A Second Phase of the schedule will commence November 1 and include only six clubs for the remainder of the season.  The top four finishers from Phase I will advance, as well as two clubs from positions 5-8 as determined by play-in games.  The six advancing clubs can be reinforced by players selected from the eliminated ten teams.  The Phase I won/loss records also carry over into the second phase.  Phase II will complete in late December.

Playoff Rounds will be held in January and will conclude in time for the SN56 champion to participate in Serie del Caribe 2017.

WINTER REGULAR SEASON 2016-17

— as of November 8, 2016 —

CUBA SN56 – as mentioned above, the current SN56 season began on August 7.  Of the 16 teams participating in Phase I, the following six advanced to Phase II play, which began on November 1:

Matanzas, Ciego de Ávila, Granma, Villa Clara, Holguín, and Camagüey.  The Matanzas Crocodiles have been playing outstanding ball, and currently are 46-5 with a 12.5 game lead over second place Ciego de Ávila.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – play began in la Liga Dominicana (LIDOM) on October 20.  Through the first 14 games, Gigantes del Cibao are in first place at 10-4.

VENEZUELA – LVBP play began on October 6. Águilas de Zulia (Maracaibo) have the early lead at 17-8.

White Sox fans in the U.S. should note that Ozzie Guillén is managing the La Guaira club this season.

MÉXICO – the LMP season began on October 11.  The LMP plays a split-season and la primera etapa has been very tight, with four clubs (Hermosillo, Méxicali, Navajoa, and Los Mochis) tied atop the standings at 13-10.

PUERTO RICO – play began for the LBPRC on October 27.  Mayagüez and Santurce are tied for the early lead at 6-2.

 

I will report periodically via this blog as to developments and results of the 2016-17 winter seasons, and then en vivo desde Culiacán.

Saludos,  Monte

 

Serie del Caribe 2016 in Santo Domingo

Estadio-Quisqueya-Manolito

                Estadio Quisqueya, Santo Domingo, Republica Dominicana – site for the 2016 Serie del Caribe

La Serie del Caribe, the Caribbean World Series, returns to the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo in 2016 for the 58th edition of the torneo invernal.  The site for the onfield action will be Estadio Quisqueya, the venerable stadium in the capital built in 1955 by the government of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo.

This venue seats approximately 14,500 and measures 335′ down the lines, 383′ in the alleys and 411′ in center field.  The stadium serves as the home field for two of the Dominican winter league’s six teams – los Leones del Escogido and los Tigres del Licey.

Thelma and teamJasso Monte KK

Thelma Acosta (r) of Travesias Mundiales and associates-Your author with uber-fanatico KK Estrada and my good friend Juan Antonio

My travel plans are booked for Serie del Caribe 2016, which will be played February 1-7.  I will again be traveling with my Mexican amigos in a tour group organized by Travesias Mundiales in Hermosillo, Sonora.  This will be my sixth trip to the Caribbean Classic, and my second visit to Santo Domingo.  I look forward to it with much anticipation.

The schedule of games for Serie del Caribe 2016 is here.  Remember that Santo Domingo is on Atlantic time, so they are one hour ahead of the U.S. eastern time zone.

Here’s the latest:

Reporting from Santo Domingo

 

amigos2IMG_2912

Your author at Estadio Quisqueya with Enrique (l) and Juan Antonio (r) and with some like-minded fans

el papa martin2padres

 

Your author with ” El Papa’ ” Martin      …..      and with two real-life padres

All four photos above courtesy of Juan Antonio Jasso R.

 

MEXICO WINS SERIE DEL CARIBE 2016

Day Seven — Sunday February 7, 2016

The Mexican team (Venados de Mazatlan) defeated Venezuela (Tigres de Aragua) in dramatic fashion Sunday night.  DH Jorge Vasquez hit a lead-off, walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth to win the game 5-4.  This clinched Mexico’s fourth Serie del Caribe crown in the last six years.  Mexico ran the table, six wins and no losses, for the first time since the format of competition changed in 2013.

Here are some of my reflections on Serie del Caribe 2016:

* The system of competition worked well this year.  The two strongest teams, Mexico and Venezuela, played well in the round robin, won their semi-final games, and met in an exciting final.

*  Of the five teams, only the Cubans were clearly overmatched.  Puerto Rico played well and was probably the positive surprise of la Serie.  Although the Dominicans were swept, they were in every game and lost several in extra innings.

*  Fan support from the local Dominican hosts was less than expected.  No game even approached being a sell out.  When talking with the locals, they blamed the poor local economy and high ticket prices.

*  Although overall attendance was not up to expectations, there were large contingents of Mexican, Venezuelan, and Puerto Rican fans at the games supporting their teams.  At the final, about a third of the stadium was occupied by Mexican fans, another third by Venezuelans, and a third was empty.  Apparently, there is a large Venezuelan expatriate community in the Dominican Republic and they were certainly out in force supporting their team.  The Mexican fanaticos received a lot of positive press coverage for their attendance and support of la Serie.

Finally, I would like to thank all of my Mexican amigos for their friendship and support at la Serie.  Special thanks to mi buen amigo Juan Antonio.  Gracias por todo.

And to all of my amigos SABReros,  thanks for reading!

 

Day Six – Saturday February 6, 2016

IT WILL BE VENEZUELA AND MEXICO IN THE FINALS !

Venezuela romped over Puerto Rico 13-3 and Mexico took the nightcap over Cuba 7-2.  The final game will be Sunday at 4pm local (Atlantic time zone) time.  Fans here see this as a good result, as the clubs with the two best records in round robin play are competing against each other for the Serie del Caribe crown.

Venezuela 13 – Puerto Rico 3

Jose ‘Cafecito’ Martinez led the offense for Venezuela with four hits, including a triple and homer, and four RBI.  Marcus Walden scattered seven hits in 5.1 innings for the win.  Venezuela is looking for their first Serie del Caribe crown since 2009.  Puerto Rico exceeded expectations and had a good tournament.

Mexico 7 – Cuba 2

SS Yunieski Betancourt had three hits and four RBI to lead the Mexican offense.  Hector Daniel Rodriguez recorded his second win of la Serie, pitching six innings while allowing only one run.  Seven Cuban players had a hit apiece, but they could not put together a big inning to catch the Mexican squad.  Mexico will be looking for its fourth Serie del Caribe title in the last six years.

 

Day Five – Friday February 5, 2016

Mexico 8 – Puerto Rico 4

Mexico scored six runs in the top of the eighth to pull away from a scrappy Puerto Rican club.  At the top of the order, Pineda and Greene combined for six hits and four RBI to keep the offense rolling.  1B Cyle Hankerd, who was being given the day off, came off the bench for a key two-run double in the 8th.  Neftali Soto hit another homer for Puerto Rico.

Cuba 4 – Dominicana 2 (11inn)

Cuba shocked the home team with a dramatic extra-inning win.  Cuba thus advances to the semi-finals while the host Dominicans are eliminated from further play.

FINAL STANDINGS FROM THE ROUND ROBIN PHASE

Mexico (Venados de Mazatlan)  4-0

Venezuela (Tigres de Aragua)   3-1

Puerto Rico (Cangrejeros de Santurce)  2-2

Cuba (Tigres de Ciego de Avila)  1-3

Dominicana (Leones del Escogido)  0-4

On Saturday, Venezuela will play Puerto Rico in the first semifinal and Mexico will play Cuba in the nightcap.  The two winners will then advance to the finals on Sunday.

 

Day Four – Thursday February 4, 2016

Venezuela 3 – Cuba 1

A serious lack of offense continues to plague the defending champions.  Venezuela scored one in the second and two in the third to set up the win.  Leadoff hitter SS Juniel Querecuto, led the offense with four hits.  Cuba recorded an out on a Venezuelan runner by using the hidden ball trick at second base!

Puerto Rico 2 – Dominicana 1 (14 inn)

The cinderella team of the tournament so far, the Puerto Rican squad stunned the home crowd by tying the game in the bottom of the ninth and winning it in the 14th on a walk-off HR by Neftali Soto.  Soto had three hits and both RBI.  DR closer Raphael Soriano was tagged with a blown save.

Key game on Friday – the losses by Cuba and Dominicana set up a key match on the final day of round robin play.  The two teams will play each other in the nightcap, in what will be a loser-goes-home match.

 

Day Three – Wednesday February 3, 2016

Mexico 6 – Venezuela 4

Venezuela took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third, but Mexico scored three in the bottom of the fourth and never trailed thereafter.  Eight Mexico pitchers managed to scatter 15 Venezuelan hits to hold on for the win.  Justin Greene went 3-4 and Yuneski Betancourt drove in two runs for Mexico.  Adonis Garcia, Daniel Alvarez, and Jose Martinez all had three hits each for Venezuela.

Puerto Rico 12 – Cuba 1

The Puerto Ricans stunned Cuba with five runs in the top of the third and went on to win big.  Five Puerto Rican pitchers held the Cubans to four hits overall.  PR catcher Rene Garcia had 4 RBI and DH Kennys Vargas hit a 3-run homer.

Home Run Derby

This is a new feature added this year for Serie del Caribe.  MLB veteran Vladimir Guerrero got top billing for this event and the retired star represented the host Dominicans.  However, Venezuelan Felix Perez took the honors.  The lefty batter took advantage of a slight breeze blowing left-to-right, plus a sweet swing, to tally eight homers in the first round and two more in the final round.

Round Robin Standings after three days of play are:

Mexico 3-0

Venezuela 2-1

Puerto Rico 1-1

Dominicana  0-2

Cuba  0-2

 

Day Two – Tuesday February 2, 2016

Mexico 9 – Cuba 3

The Mexican team put up 3 runs in the bottom of the second and kept the lead for the entire game, adding tallies in the third, fourth, sixth and seventh innings.   Cuba threatened in the top of the sixth, scoring 3 runs on five hits as Mexican starter Eddie Gamboa tired, but that was all they could get.  Hitting stars for Mexico were 1B Cyle Hankerd with a homer and C Sebastian Valle with 5 RBI.  The Mexican squad is looking very good so far.

Venezuela 8 – Dominicana 7 (10 inn)

Venezuela overcame an early 0-4 deficit to win in the bottom of the tenth in a see-saw game.

After two days of play, the round robin standings are:

Mexico   2-0

Venezuela  2-0

Puerto Rico  0-1

Cuba  0-1

Dominicana  0-2

 

Opening Day games – Monday February 1, 2016

Venezuela 2 – Puerto Rico 1

Puerto Rico scored in the top of the first, and that was the only run they could tally against Venezuelan starter Freddy Garcia.  Venezuela scored two runs in the bottom of the second on a walk, a mis-played grounder on the infield, and then a triple by Cafecito Martinez.  Those two runs stood up to win the game.

Between games, the opening ceremonies featured music, dancing, and a tribute to Dominican great Juan Marichal.  The stadium officially added his name this season, so it is now Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal.  The great pitcher was in attendance for the festivities, and he took the ball for the opening pitch.  Complete with his trademark leg kick, he fired a strike to the plate.

Mexico 3 – Dominicana 2

The Mexican club took advantage of their speed at the top of the lineup, Dominican errors and solid pitching to take the nightcap.  Mexico scored single runs in the top of the second and third innings.  The home team tied the score in the bottom of the third when Leury Garcia hit a dramatic two-run inside-the-park home run.  Mexico pushed across the winning run in the top of the fifth on two singles and a third Dominican error.

Mexican starter Hector Daniel Rodriguez pitched five innings for the win.  Mexican outfielders Justin Greene and Chris Roberson were both 2-4 at the plate.  Fernando Rodney made an appearance in the ninth for the Dominicans to keep the game within one.  In the bottom of the ninth, the Dominicans had the tying run on third with two outs but a grounder to first ended the game in the Mexicans’ favor.

 

As of January 31, 2016

I arrived late yesterday via Miami.  The international airport in Miami is truly the gateway to Latin America.  On the flight from Austin to Miami, I sat next to an elderly lady that was traveling on to Maracaibo, Venezuela to visit her grandchildren.  Upon checking departing flights on the board in Miami, I noted seven commercial flights leaving for Cuba, among dozens of other destinations south of the border.

A beisbol riddle:  A crab fisherman walks into a cantina.  At the bar are a lion, a deer, and two tigers.  Where is the cantina?

Answer:  The cantina is in Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal in Santo Domingo, Republica Dominicana.  Those are the team mascots of the five clubs participating in Serie del Caribe 2016.

The field is set for the 58th edition of the Caribbean Classic.  The clubs are:

Leones del Escogido from Santo Domingo.  Los Leones will host the series in their home stadium.  Escogido’s field manager is Luis Rojas and the GM of the club is Moises Alou.  They are both the sons of MLB player and manager Felipe Rojas Alou.  This is Leones’ 16th Dominican Winter League title.

Venados de Mazatlan will represent the Mexican Pacific League.  The club from the port city in Sinaloa has captured its 9th LMP crown.

Tigres de Aragua from Maracay won its 10th league title and will represent Venezuela.  This season marked the 70th anniversary of the Venezuelan professional league, and Tigres would like to cap that off by bringing the Caribbean Series corona back to Venezuela.

Tigres de Ciego de Avila will represent the defending champion Cubans.  In just their second year back in la Serie del Caribe, following an absence of over fifty years, the Cuban squad captured the 2015 crown.  They will be keen to repeat.

Cangrejeros de Santurce prevailed in Puerto Rico for their 14th winter league crown.  It was the first time in their long history that the team won back-to-back Puerto Rican championships.

A programming note — the games will be broadcast in the U.S. en vivo on ESPN Deportes.

The games start Monday afternoon, February 1.  Stand by …

 

All league final series are decided as of January 30, 2016

Dominican Republic (LiDOM)

Leones del Escogido are the 2015-16 Dominican champions and will play en casa next week at Serie del Caribe.

Leones raced to a 4-games-to-0 final series lead over home-town rivals Tigres del Licey.  Licey staved off elimination with a 7-6 victory in game #5, but Leones clinched with a decisive 8-4 victory in game #6.  Escogido thus wins the best-of-nine championship, 5 games to 1.  This is los Leones’ 16th Dominican championship since 1951.

Mexican Pacific League (LMP)

Venados de Mazatlan are the 2015-16 LMP champions!

After splitting the first two games in Mexicali, los Venados won all three games at home against Aguilas to take the series four games to one.  Game five went extra innings, with Mazatlan pushing a run across in the bottom of the 10th inning to prevail 4-3 and capture their ninth LMP crown.  Over 15,500 fanaticos enjoyed the game at Estadio Teodoro Mariscal in the port city.

Venezuela (LVBP)

Tigres de Aragua are the 2015-16 Venezuelan champions!

Navegantes opened the final series at home in Valencia against Tigres de Aragua.  Magallanes prevailed 14-3 in the first game and also won game two by the score of 5-4.  The best-of-seven series then shifted to Maracay, home base of los Tigres, for games 3-5.  In game #3, Tigres scored 3 runs in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extra innings and then won it 5-4 in 12 innings.  Tigres also held serve at home in games #4 and #5, winning 6-2 and 6-1.

Upon returning to Valencia, Tigres clinched the championship by winning their fourth straight game, a convincing 8-2 victory over Navegantes.  This is Tigres’ tenth Venezuelan championship.

Puerto Rico (LBPRC)

Cangrejeros de Santurce are the 2015-16 Puerto Rican champions!

Indios de Mayaguez opened at home against Santurce.  Indios continued their winning ways in the post-season, taking the opener 4-0 over the Cangrejeros.  Game two saw Santurce best the Indios 5-2 back in San Juan.  Game #3 returned to Estadio Isidoro Garcia in Mayaguez (site of the 2011 Serie del Caribe).  The home club Indios won that game 1-0.

Santurce prevailed at home in game #4, 4-3 in 13 innings.  Santurce was also able to break serve, winning game #5 in Mayaguez by the score of 3-2 over los Indios.  Santurce now leads the best-of-seven series 3-2.  Game #6 will be played Friday, January 29 at Estadio Hiram Bithorn in San Juan (site of the 2015 Serie del Caribe).

Santurce pushed across two runs in the bottom of the sixth, and that’s all they needed to win 2-0 in game #6, thus successfully defending their Puerto Rican title.  This is the first time in franchise history that the Cangrejeros have won back-to-back championships and it is their 14th league title.

Cuba (Serie Nacional)

Don’t forget that the defending champion Cubans’ representative has already been determined.  Due to the differences in the Cuban league schedule, as compared to the other four league participants, the Cuban champion from the already completed 2014-15 season will represent Cuba at Serie del Caribe 2016.  Therefore, even though Serie Nacional 55 is still underway in Cuba, the SN 54 champions – Tigres de Ciego de Avila – will represent the defending Serie del Caribe champion Cubans.

 

Complete results of league semi-finals – as of January 21, 2016

Dominican Republic (LiDOM)

Tigres del Licey won twelve straight games in the Dominican todos-contra-todos (round robin) playoff semi-finals, thus punching their ticket to the league finals.  The final standings for the 18-game round robin phase was as follows:

Licey   12-6  (advances to finals)

Escogido  9-9  (advances to finals)

Toros     9-9  (eliminated in play-in game)

Estrellas  6-12  (eliminated)

Escogido and Toros thus needed to play a one-game, loser-goes-home, showdown.  That game was held in La Romana on January 18.  Escogido won that encounter 7-2, and advances to the finals.

Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo will be rocking for the next week, as both Tigres del Licey and Leones del Escogido share the stadium as their home field !!  The best-of-nine final series opens on January 20.

Mexican Pacific League (LMP)

Both semi-final matches went the full seven games.

Venados de Mazatlan prevailed 2-1 in the deciding game at Ciudad Obregon and advance to the finals.

Aquilas de Mexicali won 4-3 in 16 innings at home against Navajoa.  Over 17,000 fans enjoyed the win at Estadio B-Air.

The LMP finals begin January 20, with Mexicali hosting Mazatlan in a best-of-seven series.

Venezuela (LVBP)

Both semi-final series went the full seven games.  Caribes (Anzoategui) were defeated by Navegantes (Valencia) 4 games to 3.  Tigres (Aragua) defeated Tiburones (La Guaira) 4-3 and also advance to the finals.

Navegantes have now qualified for the Venezuelan finals for the fourth consecutive year.  The opening game of the final best-of-seven series will be held in Valencia on Friday, January 22

Puerto Rico (LBPRC)

The Puerto Rican first-round round robin standings at the completion of the scheduled 12 games is as follows:
Mayaguez    8-4  (advances to finals)
Santurce       5-7  (advances to finals)
Caguas         5-7  (eliminated in play-in game)
Criollos de Caguas visited Santurce for a one-game, loser-goes-home, encounter at Estadio Hiram Bithorn on Thursday evening, January 21.  The home team prevailed 1-0, as the Santurce hurlers fashioned a 2-hit shutout.
Santurce will visit Mayaguez on Friday, January 22 to open the seven-game final series.

First Round Playoff Updates – as of January 10, 2016

Mexican Pacific League (LMP)

Aguilas de Mexicali became the first club to advance to the second round of the playoffs, sweeping Charros de Jalisco 4-0 in the opening series.

Yaquis de Ciudad Obregon advanced to the second round on the strength of their 4-2 series win over Los Mochis.

Mayos de Navojoa also advanced by defeating Mazatlan 4-2 in their series.

In the LMP system of competition, a comodin (wild card team) also advances to the semi-finals.  This team is determined as the losing first-round club that had the best record.  In this year’s case, both Mazatlan and Los Mochis won two games in their series.  The wild-card club was then determined by the best “run percentage”, defined as runs-scored divided by runs-allowed.  Based on this calculation, Venados de Mazatlan will advance to the second round.

Therefore, the LMP semi-finals will feature best-of-seven series – Mazatlan at Obregon, and Navojoa at Mexicali.  The semi-finals begin Sunday, January 10.

Venezuela (LVBP)

Traditional rivals Navegantes de Magallanes (Valencia) and Leones de Caracas met in the first round playoff series.  Navegantes advances to the semi-finals by defeating Caracas 4 games to 2.
Likewise, La Guaira has punched their ticket to the semi-finals by defeating Caribes 4-2.
Margarita and Aragua went the full seven games, with Tigres de Aragua winning the deciding game at home 3-1.
To determine the comodin, there is a wild-card game pitting the two teams with the best records among the first-round losers.  Per the rules of competition, Caribes and Bravos de Margarita will play a one-game, loser-goes-home playoff on Monday January 11 to determine who will advance to the semi-finals.
** updated January 11 ** Caribes defeated Bravos 1-0 on a second inning solo homer by 1B Oscar Salazar, thus advancing as the wild-card.  Therefore, the semi-final matchups in Venezuela are:  Caribes vs. Magallanes; and La Guaira vs. Aragua.
Dominican Republic (LiDOM)
The Dominican first round series is an 18-game todos contra todos (round robin) with all four qualifiers playing each other through six rounds.  Tigres del Licey have raced to a commanding lead in the first round, with the standings currently:
Licey (Santo Domingo)       11-1
Toros (La Romana)              5-7
Escogido (Santo Domingo)  4-8
Estrellas (San Pedro)           4-8
Puerto Rico (LBPRC)
The Puerto Rican first round series is also todos contra todos, with the three qualifying clubs playing a 12-game round-robin phase.  The current standings here are:
Mayaguez    4-2
Santurce       2-3
Caguas         2-3

Update as of December 31, 2015

Venezuela (LVBP)

For the 2015-16 season, Venezuela adopted a split-season format similar to that used in the Mexican Pacific League.  The final cumulative point standings, the sum of the first- and second-half records, is as follows:

Navegantes (Valencia)  36-27            14 points cumulative

Tiburones (La Guaira)  33-30             12

Tigres  (Aragua)  31-32                      10.5

Bravos (Porlamar, Isla Margarita)  28-35    10

Caribes (Anzoategui)  34-30               9.5

Leones (Caracas)  35-30                    9.5

Cardenales (Lara)  33-31                   9.5

Aguilas (Zulia)  24-39                         7

With the top six teams scheduled to advance to the first round of the playoffs, the three clubs tied at 9.5 points (Caribes, Leones, and Cardenales) had to face-off to determine which two clubs would move forward.  This three-way play-in was held as a doubleheader at Estadio Universitario in Caracas on December 30.  It was an exciting day of beisbol, as Caribes won the opener over Leones 4-2 in 10 innings.  Caribes therefore advances, with Leones then playing a loser-goes-home game vs. Cardenales in the nightcap.  This game was also a thriller, as the home team Leones prevailed 6-5.

Therefore, the first round of the playoffs will feature these match-ups in best-of-seven format:  Navegantes host Caracas; Tiburones host Caribes; and Tigres host Bravos.

Mexican Pacific League (LMP)

The LMP wrapped up the second half of their season, and the six qualifiers have been determined.  The combined-point standings, reflecting points earned for both the first- and second-half-seasons, are as follows:

As a result, Culiacan and Hermosillo have been eliminated.  The three “quarter-final” best-of-seven matchups, beginning January 1, are as follows:

Jalisco at Mexicali; Los Mochis at Ciudad Obregon; and Navojoa at Mazatlan.

Puerto Rico (LBPRC)

The winter league in Puerto Rico ended its regular season with the standings at:

Indios de Mayaguez          27-15

Cangrejeros de Santurce  21-21   6 GB

Criollos de Caguas           21-21    6

Gigantes de Carolina       15-27    12        (eliminated)

The top three teams now advance to a round-robin phase beginning play on January 2.

Christian VazquezYadiel Rivera_Javier BaezWilfredo Rodriguez

Action at Estadio Hiram Bithorn in San Juan this winter (photos courtesy of SABR member Angel Colon). 

 

Update as of December 22, 2015

Dominican Republic (LiDOM)

The Dominican league is the first to complete their rol regular (regular season).  The final standings at the end of the 50-game schedule is as follows:

Estrellas (San Pedro)     29-21  (Estrellas took first place due to winning season series 6-4 over Licey)

Licey (Santo Domingo)   29-21

Escogido (Santo Domingo)  25-25   4 GB

Toros (La Romana)         23-27        6 GB

Aguilas (Santiago)            22-28       7 GB  (eliminated)

Gigantes (San Francisco)   22-28    7 GB  (eliminated)

The semi-finals (actually a four-team round robin series) will begin December 27 with Estrellas hosting Toros and Licey vs. Escogido at Estadio Quisqueya.

 

Update as of November 20, 2015

Mexican Pacific League (LMP)

The LMP franchises are on a building spree, constructing several new stadia.  Estadio Sonora opened in Hermosillo in early 2013, Estadio Bancomer has just opened in Culiacan, Sinoloa, and a new stadium is planned for Ciudad Obregon, Sonora in 2017.  The league seems happy with the 2014 shift of the Guasave franchise to Guadalajara, thus bringing another large metro area into the LMP.  The Mexican winter league plays a split-season format, with the primera vuelta completing on November 19.  First-half standings are as follows:

LMP first half standings

Cuba (Serie Nacional)

Due to the differences in the Cuban league schedule, as compared to the other four league participants, the Cuban champion from the completed 2014-15 season will represent Cuba at Serie del Caribe 2016.  Therefore, even though Serie Nacional 55 is now underway in Cuba, the SN 54 champions – Tigres de Ciego de Avila – will represent the defending Serie del Caribe champion Cubans.  (thanks to SABR member Peter Bjarkman for clarifying this)

Puerto Rico (LBPRC)

The Liga Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente is operating with only four teams this Winter.  Long-time stalwart franchise Leones de Ponce has suspended operations for a second consecutive season, and were joined on the inactive list by the recently-resurrected Senadores de San Juan.  Senadores dueno y presidente Lic. Hector J. Ferrer Rios is undergoing cancer treatment and the franchise will suspend operations awaiting his recovery.  (thanks to SABR member Angel Colon for this update)

The four clubs playing this season are defending champs Cangrejeros de Santurce, Indios de Mayaguez, Criollos de Caguas, and Gigantes de Carolina.  Approaching the half-way point of the season, Indios and Criollos are tied atop the standings, with Carolina 2.5 games back and Santurce 5.5 games back.

Dominican Republic (LiDOM)

All six franchises are returning for play this winter:  Leones del Escogido, Tigres del Licey, Aguilas in Santiago, Gigantes in San Francisco, Toros in La Romana, and Estrellas in San Pedro.  As of the mid-point of the season, Licey is on top of the standings with a 2 1/2 game lead over their capital rival Escogido and Estrellas.

Venezuela (LVBP)

All eight franchises return for action in the LVBP this Winter: Caribes (Anzoategui), Tigres (Aragua), Aguilas (Zulia), Navegantes de Magallanes (Valencia), Cardenales (Lara), Leones (Caracas), Tiburones (La Guaira), and Bravos (Isla de Margarita).  This winter the LVBP has adopted a split-season format similar to that traditionally used in Mexico.  Results for the primera ronda are as follows:

Tiburones  19-13  8 pts

Tigres     19-13    7 pts

Navegantes  17-15  6pts

Cardenales   17-15  5pts

Leones     17-15   4.5 pts

Aguilas    15-17  4 pts

Caribes    15-17   3.5 pts

Bravos     9-23    3pts

 

 

Book Review: Joe Black – More Than a Dodger

Joe Black:  More Than a Dodger
354 pages
Chicago Review Press, 2015

One wouldn’t think a book about a "single-season wonder" could hold enough information to fill 350 pages. But this engaging life story written by Joe Black’s daughter, Martha Jo, and AP/UPI sportswriter Chuck Schoffner, captures the essence of a determined competitor in sport as well as life.  Joe was raised in the integrated town of Plainfield, New Jersey, but beginning in his university years, he faced life’s toughest curves from the challenges of Jim Crow.  As a young man in 1944, he aspired to pitch in the major leagues but was surprised to learn that he would probably never have that opportunity.  Not only did he achieve his dream in 1952, but he led his Brooklyn Dodgers to the pennant, leading the club in wins, earning Rookie of the Year honors, and finishing third in the MVP race.  That season he became the first African-American to win a World Series game.

But Joe Black was so much more than a one-dimensional sports figure.  Joe had an over-sized, magnetic personality that matched his later-in-life physical presence, allowing him to become a beloved school teacher and the first African-American Vice-President of a corporation of its size, when he worked at and later consulted for Greyhound.  From the 1980s until the end of his life he worked hard on behalf of major league baseball to aid retired ballplayers who had fallen upon hard times.

After divorcing Martha Jo’s mother, Joe was determined to win sole custody of his daughter, perhaps his biggest life challenge.  After all, the odds were clearly stacked against a black man in conservative Arizona during the early 1970s, especially considering that Martha Jo’s mom was also a "fit" parent.  But Joe miraculously prevailed and Martha Jo, who today works for Jerry Reinsdorf with the Whitesox, penned this labor of love to honor a top athlete, a great humanitarian, and an exceptional dad.

Though a great portion of the book has to do with his career leading up to, and during, his days with Brooklyn, you need not be a Dodger fan at all to enjoy this uplifting biography.

Book Review: Baseball’s Great Hispanic Pitchers

Title:  Baseball’s Great Hispanic Pitchers – Seventeen Aces from the Major, Negro and Latin American Leagues

Author:  Lou Hernandez

Published:  2015 by McFarland, ISBN:  978-0-7864-7975-7; $39.95 new, $13.99 ebook; 306 pages

Lou Hernandez deals us a winning hand of 17 aces with this review of baseball’s greatest Hispanic pitchers.  He covers the standout Hispanic pitchers of each era or decade, beginning with Ramon Bragana and Martin Dihigo in the Negro and Latin American leagues and wrapping up with current star King Felix Hernandez.  Along the way, the book has indepth coverage of Ramon Arano, Ruben Gomez, Orlando Hernandez, Juan Pizarro, Adolfo Luque, Camilo Pascual, Juan Marichal, Luis Tiant, Mike Cuellar, Dennis Martinez, Fernando Valenzuela, Pedro Martinez, Mariano Rivera, and Johan Santana.

The biographical chapter on each lanzador is loaded with facts, stats, and anecdotes.  Although the author admits upfront that he is a fan of the "old school" views that pitcher wins, innings pitched and complete games are important, he also effectively weaves in the use of sabermetric measurements to compare and contrast pitcher effectiveness across the decades.

Mr. Hernandez also offers his opinion as to the greatest season ever by a Hispanic pitcher.  His two finalists are Pedro Martinez in 2000 and "Dolf" Luque in 1923.  You’ll have to get the book to find his choice among the two, and rationale therein.

I enjoyed this book and learned a lot.  I think most SABR members will. 

Author(s) background: Lou Hernandez is a fellow SABR member and lifelong baseball fan.  His recent books include:  Memories of Winter Ball – Interviews with Players in the Latin American Winter Leagues of the 1950s (2013, McFarland) and The Rise of the Latin American Baseball Leagues, 1947-1961:  Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela (2011, McFarland).  Lou lives in Pembroke Pines, Florida.