Two more games will be played, but they will not impact the winner of the series crown.
That was decided on Day Five.
On Friday night, Venezuela continued their winning streak defeating Mexico 5-3 and winning the Caribbean Series title. When the teams took the field, Mexico was the only other team still in contention for the championship.
On their previous meeting, the game went scoreless until the bottom of the 11th, when Venezuelan, Hector Giminez hit a solo shot to end the game. Mexico played another 12 inning game against Puerto Rico on Thursday. All the games in this series have been close and sometimes long, hard fought battles. So, even though Venezuela came in with a perfect record, they by no means had the title in the bag.
The mostly Mexican crowd was loud. Very, very loud. Music, horns, thunder sticks, shouting, clapping. In the bottom of the ninth, the fans were shouting (in Spanish of course), “Yes, we can.”
In answer to the cheers, the Mexican team did score one run and brought the tying run to the plate. However, the Venezuelan righty reliever, Francisco Butto, shut the door, recording his fourth save in four games, the most in Caribbean Series history. The Venezuelans celebrated to the sound of the song, “We are the Champions!”
In the matinee game, the Dominican Republic faced the Puerto Ricans. At the start, the Dominicans only had one win in the series, while the Puerto Ricans were looking for their first. One at a time, Puerto Rico put up three runs, while their pitching staff shut down the Dominicans, winning their first game of the series 3-0.
In the final day of this six game series, Puerto Rico will face Venezuela. Puerto Rico can not prevent Venezuela from winning the series, but a win will give them bragging rights for beating the winner of the series. Venezuela is no longer playing for a championship but a perfect record. In the late game, Mexico will face the Dominican Republic. Mexico will be playing for their hometown crowd, while the Dominicans are hungry for one more win.
The final games will not be played for trophies or titles, but for the things these countries seem to place great value on: Pride, fun and the love of this great game.
On Day Four of the Caribbean Series, Venezuela continued on in perfection, achieving a 4-0 record after defeating the Dominican Republic 3-2.
Mexico stayed in contention for the series title by persevering through a 12-inning bout against the Puerto Ricans. The score was 1-1 going into extra innings. Mexico put up four runs in the 12th to win. Puerto Rico led with 12 hits to Mexico‘s 10, but could not bring runners home.
Today’s game between Venezuela and Mexico could decide the series. Mexico must win to stay alive. A win for Venezuela would clinch the title. Also, Puerto Rico will be looking for their first win against the Dominicans.
Question: What can the Caribbean Series tell us about what to expect from these countries in the World Baseball Classic?
Answer: Not much.
The participants in the Caribbean Series are the teams that won the winter leagues in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. They are the best team from those leagues, not necessarily the best their countries can field. The teams participating in the Caribbean Series are not “Team Puerto Rico” or “Team Mexico“. They are:
Mexican Winter League – Venados de Mazatlán (Mazatlán Deer)
Dominican Winter League – Gigantes del Cibao (Cibao Giants)
Venezuelan Winter League – Leones del Caracas (Caracas Lions)
Puerto Rican Winter League – Leones de Ponce (Ponce Lions)
Although the Caribbean Winter League teams do have a few Major League players on them, mostly they are a place for minor leaguers and the unsigned to hone their skills. In this series, only a handful of players are holding a spot on a 40-man Major League roster. However, scouts are attending this series, so it is a great opportunity for a player to get noticed.
Conversely, the provisional World Baseball Classic rosters read like a who’s who of Major League Baseball. For the countries in this series, there are names that appear on both rosters. The Mexicans have 10, the Puerto Ricans have 11, but the Dominicans and Venezuelans only have 1 each. So, the teams we will see in the World Baseball Classic bear very little resemblance to these Caribbean World Series teams.
However, the one thing this series may tell us about the World Baseball Classic relates to Mexico. Infielder brothers, Adrian and Edgar Gonzales, do appear on both rosters. They have been instrumental to Mexico‘s success in this series and will make “Team Mexico” tough to beat in the WBC.
The pitching duels of the first two days of the series gave way to a slugfest on Day Three.
Venezuela continues to dominate the series, keeping their winning streak intact by defeating the Puerto Ricans 5-2. The Venezuelans were more efficient scoring 5 runs on 8 hits, while the Puerto Ricans scored 2 runs on 7 hits. The Venezuelans did not hit homers. They got the job done with several doubles and 2 stolen bases. Can this team lose?
The Puerto Rican team just cannot seem to get their offense going, and now have a disappointing record of 0-3. Can this team win?
The slugfest came in the late game between the Dominican Republic and Mexico. The score was back and forth until Mexico finally prevailed, winning 12-9. The Mexican effort was led by the Padres’ Adrian Gonzalez who hit three home runs. A power outage that delayed the game for 50 minutes did not cool the bats.
As it stands this morning, Venezuela is 3-0, Mexico is 2-1, the Dominican Republic is 1-2 and Puerto Rico trails 0-3.
The action continues today with match-ups between the Dominican Republic and Venezuela as well as Mexico vs Puerto Rico.
Two aesthetic characteristics of note make this series different from American baseball games: uniforms and music. The uniforms and batting helmets are covered with sponsor advertising, not unlike a Nascar uniform. Fittingly enough, on the back of the Mexican uniforms in the spot where a player’s name would be, you’ll find the word, “Corona”. Although, I think it is fine in this league, I hope Major League Baseball never comes to this. I do not want to see a beer advertisement on a Cardinals uniform, not even if it is, appropriately, Budweiser.
Now, the music is something I like. Except for the 5 seconds when the batter stands in and the pitch is delivered, the music seems to be going constantly. Some of it is Caribbean such as the distinctive Reggaeton beats I heard during the Puerto Rican games. Some of it is American, such as “Who let the dogs out” or “Another one bites the dust” after a strike out. The music makes the atmosphere festive and alive.
Only three days left in this six-day series, then it’s a quiet week until pitchers and catchers report.
Good news! There is baseball to watch this week. Or, maybe, it’s beisbol. The Caribbean World Series is underway in Mexico. Ah, why are we not there? There is sun. There is baseball. What more does a person need?
In the Caribbean World Series, four countries face off: Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, playing round robin style.
My knowledge of Caribbean baseball is limited, so my expectations were formed by the Caribbean natives I watch most:
Albert Pujols – Expectation: Big slugging from the Dominicans.
Yadier Molina – Expectation: Extraordinary defensive Puerto Rican catching
Cesar Izturis – Expectation: Great Venezuelan defense, speed and contact hitting
There are no Mexican Cardinals, so I held no preconceived notions. Overall, I predicted the Puerto Ricans and Dominicans to dominate this series.
Thus far, nothing has been what I expected. The dominant pitching has been the biggest surprise. The first four games have been low scoring battles to eke a few runs across the plate. All have been one point games, with no team scoring more than 3 runs in a game.
The Dominicans, who I thought would put up big offensive numbers, have only scored 4 runs in two games. Although, it was a 2-run homer that made the difference in their game against Puerto Rico, so I guess they are sluggers. They have a 1-1 record, losing to Venezuela and defeating Puerto Rico.
Surprisingly, the Puerto Ricans are down 0-2 in the series, losing to Mexico and the D.R. In the game against Mexico, I did not see the excellent catching that Puerto Rico boasts. A stolen base and a pitch that got away contributed to runners getting in scoring position. In a 3-2 game, everything counts–either for or against you.
The Mexican pitching has been stellar, giving up only 3 runs, yet they have a 1-1 record, having defeated Puerto Rico and lost to Venezuela.
Venezuela has been the biggest surprise. They are leading with a perfect 2-0 record. Last night they won an amazing pitching duel with a power shot. In the bottom half of 11 scoreless innings, Venezuelan first baseman, Hector Gimenez hit a 2-out solo home run to end the game. Slugging was not on my list of Venezuelan expectations.
For more on the Caribbean World Series, you can visit these links:
If you do not have the MLB Network, but would like to watch the Series, you can pay $9.95 at the site below and watch all the games live and on demand until February 15th. I did have some problems with logging in, but I believe they have me fixed up now. Be sure to pay and log in exclusively to either the English or Spanish page. The broadcasts are separate. Also, when you pay, be sure to save the email address on the receipt. It was the only contact I could find when I was having problems. However, once I emailed, my problem was solved quickly.