Global Baseball

One man\’s year-long journey through the world of baseball

Revisiting International Bonuses

1/25/2007

This year has seen an unprecedented amount of coverage of the international signing market. In many ways this is a very good thing. Amateur prospects had close to zero leverage 15 years ago in negotiating with major league teams. Around that time, agents began figuring out that there was money to be made representing top talent in Latin America and Australia, and the market for international free agents went up. Now that publications like Baseball America and ESPNDeportes have began publicizing names of Latin American players before they’re signed, the market will only increase, much to the chagrin of fans who love to whine about how much money baseball players make. To me, however, anything that helps even out the huge disparity between the domestic market for amateur talent and the international market is a positive step. There are still huge problems involved in the current system of which I can’t begin to even scratch the surface at this point, but the influx of agents and media are both positive steps in the right direction.

Baseball America started keeping a list tracking who signed for what during the first few months of the signing period, but stopped updating it (which the author of this blog would NEVER do…<cough>). So, I thought I’d fill in the blanks with all the information I know. Continue reading

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January 25, 2007 Posted by | Signing Period | 35 Comments

Viva La Mexico!

I know, I know. I’m the worst blogger alive.

If anyone out there’s still around, let me tell you a little bit about my past few months. It’s been a long time, so to avoid a 5,000-word-long post (and writing for hours on end), I’ll take it one country at a time.

The Mexican Winter League, or Liga Mexicana del Pacifico, to use its proper name, is just about the greatest baseball experience anyone can possibly imagine. The games are like sideshow events for the carnival-like atmosphere that surrounds them. At most stadiums, the cheap seats cost anywhere from 10-25pesos (10 pesos is a little under a dollar), and depending on where you go, home games are the social events of the cities in which they take place. For people interested in the culture surrounding international baseball, the best place by far to take in a game is definitely Mazatlan, home of the Venados (reindeer). The hour-long opening day ceremony began with a candlelight vigil and progressed to fireworks, cheerleaders, and a song specifically written for the team which still, 3 months later, has a way of maddeningly creeping back into my consciousness every once in awhile.

Anyone travelling in Mexico between the months of October and December whose interests extend beyond baseball to other passtimes such as hiking, biking, birdwatching, and other various naturalistic pursuits will no doubt be interested in spending a few days in the glorious Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon). The Copper Canyon rail is truly a sight to behold – 11 hours hugging the canyon wall and overlooking some of the most beautiful scenery anyone could ever hope to see. Unfortunately, in Los Mochis the southernmost stop on the glorious rail, the baseball experience leaves much to be desired. The stadium is miles away from the city center, and the Caneros de Los Mochis are lucky to draw 800 fans to a stadium with a capacity of $10,000. Depressing, to say the least.

Frequenters of border towns should definitely make the drive down to Hermosillo to check out a Naranjeros game. While not a tourist destination or major travel hub like Mazatlan or Los Mochis, the city of Hermosillo’s got some serious desert charm working for it, and they tend to get some of the best major league players in the league. This year, Erubiel Durazo, Geronimo Gil, Elmer Dessens, Justin Lehr, and Vinny Castilla all played for the Naranjeros. If the list seems underwhelming, get over it. This is the LMP we’re talking about. They don’t exactly draw superstars.

Mazatlan and Hermosillo are currently facing off in the championship series, with bragging rights and a trip to the 2007 Serie del Caribe on the line. Hermosillo leads the series 2-0. Game 3 is tonight at 8:00 mountain time in the US. I’ll be watching on ESPN Deportes.

I didn’t know what to expect when I left the cozy confines of the Dominican Republic for the unknown (I’d never been to Mexico before this year), but I fell for the country but hard. Between the Copper Canyon, the working-class agricultural belt in Northern Mexico, the resort towns on the Sea of Cortez, the jungles around Palenque, the mountains of Chiapas, and the beaches of Puerto Escondido, I never wanted to leave. Anyone inclined to spend a significant amount of time backpacking should forego the more expensive, more traditional trip to Europe and just head south. I’ve heard it’s even cheaper in Guatemala, and look forward to experiencing it when my year is over.
Sidenote: anyone interested in learning how the relatively minor contingent of baseball fans in the UK follow the game? Check out this great site: http://www.baseballfan.co.uk

January 25, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments