Well, I guess the powers that be decided that sending a second Dominican team to the Caribbean Series would be a better idea than using Puerto Rico’s departure to expand the scope of the event. It’s only fair. After all, it’s not like there’s another country in the Caribbean that could hope to field a competitive team.
I know the Dominican Republic is generally the strongest of the four countries and this year’s host, but this is kind of lame.
For those who get ESPNDeportes, the two Dominican Winter League heavyweights, the Tigres de Licey and the Aguilas Cabaenas, will be playing all weekend. Should be pretty entertaining even if you don’t speak Spanish.
The Mexican team actually played a decent game in this one, behind the solid if unspectacular pitching of former Florida, Texas, and San Francisco journeyman Michael Tejera. Unfortunately for them, the Dominican team was just too good. The player of the game for the Dominican Republic was Jose Fernandez, who hit a home run and a double.
Not a whole lot of craziness to report today. El Aguilita only dressed up in one crazy costume, which I can’t even begin to explain here, nobody was injured or ejected. You’ve gotta admire these Mexican fans for showing up every single day and staying in the game until the last out given the way there team has played all week.
This will be my last update from the Caribbean series. I’ll stay through part of the Puerto Rico/Venezuela game, but I have to go home and pack. Pack for where you ask? Okinawa! That’s right, the next time I check in, I’ll be covering the Japanese league’s spring training in the Ryuku Islands.
Okinawa is controlled by but ethnically distinct from Japan: Okinawans practice their own religion, speak their own language (of which I speak not a word) and are geographically located closer to Taiwan than Japan. I have very little idea what to expect, but it should be a blast.
Hell’s getting a little nippy, and I swear I thought I saw a winged creature of the porcine pursuasion pass above the stadium a few minutes ago. Mexico has actually played its way into a close and late situation! The Mexico-Puerto Rico game is tied 2-2 in the top of the 7th. It’s not for lack of trying though, as Mexico has committed 2 errors, one of which gave up a run.
[Update] Puerto Rico beats Mexico 4-2 in extras (10 innings).
The umpires lost control of this one. Erubiel Durazo was ejected in the 5th for first arguing balls and strikes, and then throwing his helmet in the home plate umpire’s general direction. In the 10th, Mexican outfielder Jon Webber was thrown out for arguing balls and strikes. As there were few fans in the stands at this point, we were able to hear Webber’s complaint up in the auxiliary press box: “You’re fucking terrible!”
Webber had a rough day. In an earlier at-bat, he lost his grop on the bat, and sent it flying into the stands where it hit a woman walking to her seat. The woman fell over, and was taken from the stadium for x-rays. No updates on her status, or whether she’ll be able to attend today’s games.
Puerto Rico’s win mathematically eliminates Venezuela from a shot at the 2007 Caribbean Series title.
Dominican Republic vs. Venezuela. If the DR wins this game, the series is pretty much over. They’re not going to lose to Mexico tomorrow.
What will we see out of the Aguilas’ parrot today? It’s anyone’s guess. Yesterday we saw:
*Native American Chief with massive headdress
*A VERY strange cross between the Hulk and Big Bird (he had green hands, and kept doing the hulk flex, and did a slow-mo power walk across the field, but for some reason he had a big blonde wig on)
*A samurai costume complete with katana sword which he pretended to use on one of the Puerto Rican batters.
Oh yeah, and there’ll be some baseball too, which should be pretty sweet. Vladimir Nunez starts for Venezuela today against Julian Tavarez. Meanwhile, all the scouts in attendance will be hoping for a Yorman Bazardo appearance. Bazardo and Ronny Cedeno’s defense are the two big stories of the tournament as far as scouting goes.
[Update] Final: DR wins 7-1. Venezuela and Mexico will slug it out for last place on Wednesday, while Puerto Rico needs a miracle tomorrow in the DR/Mexico game to make the final day relevant.
“Aguelita” is absolutely insane. Today he did a 5-minute-long ice-fishing routine, where he pretended to hook a fish only to lose it 3 or 4 times and then finally pulled out a small plastic grouper to riotous applause from the Dominican contingent along the third base line. He also spent a good two innings dressed as Zorro, marking each retired Venezuelan batter with a Z. Tony Batista’s the favorite to get the series MVP award, but if I had a vote, it’d go to Aguelita.
Outside of Ronny Cedeno, Venezuela’s defense sucks. I don’t have the numbers handy, but I don’t think they’ve had a game where they’ve committed fewer than 3 errors, and they’ve definitely given up multiple runs because of miscues every game of the series.
Dominican Republic: 4-0
Puerto Rico: 2-1
Puerto Rico will continue the Mexicans’ roll towards a winless tournament in about an hour.
Apparently these guys are big TV personalities in Mexico.
I didn’t really watch any TV while I was over there, so I don’t really know what their deal is, but they’re freaking hilarious – they put on a show on the third base dugout through the entire game, even though the Mexican team was getting killed.
Photo Credit: Peter Bjarkman
This is the big one. Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are natural rivals, and for good measure, the winner of this game will be the last undefeated team left in the series. This is the first game of the series that’s filled Roberto Clemente Walker stadium – official attendence is about 16,500 in a stadium that seats 12,000, and the atmosphere’s as charged as any game I’ve ever attended..
Boxer Victor Trinidad threw the first pitch, and the Puerto Rican crowd went just about as crazy for him as they do every time Juan Gonzalez comes up to bat. Unlike Carlos Baerga yesterday, the ball actually made it all the way to the catcher today.
Pre-Game: The Aguilas’ Parrot is back! Chris Kline thinks it looks more like a chicken, but I’m sticking with parrot. This time he’s dressed as a Native American chief, waving the Dominican flag. The Aguilas definitely have the weirdest mascot I’ve ever seen.
[Update] Top 4th, 6-0 Dominican Republic
Puerto Rico finds itself in a big hole after the abbysmal performance of Jonathan Albaladejo – 1IP, 7H, 6R (5ER), 1BB, 0k
Juan Gonzalez is the only player with intro music – imagine Frank Sinatra crooning in Spanish: it’s about like that.
If Puerto Ricans outnumber Dominicans in the stands, it’s by a spread of about 52-48. Dominican flags, on the other hand, outnumber Puerto Rican flags about 10-1.
Speaking of the fans, Dominican fans pretty much kick Puerto Rican fans’ asses when it comes to enthusiasm. There’s more cheering for a bases empty single on the Dominican side than when Puerto Rico had the bases loaded in the top of the second.
[Update] Top 8th, 12-0 Dominican Republic
So this turned out to be a much less exciting game than I thought it would be. Not too much to say, other than that this one was over after the bottom of the 1st.
2 out of the last 3 games, the guys manning the PA have messed up and done an 8th inning stretch instead of a 7th inning stretch. I’d say that’s just the way they do it here, only sometimes they get it right.
Also, the soda cans here inexplicably hold only 11.27 ounces. Clearly, both Coke and Pepsi have decided to pad their wallets by depriving Puerto Ricans of .73 ounces with each can sold. Damn them!
No Live-Blog today, as I’ve decided to actually sit back and just enjoy the game for the day. I’ll jot down comments and report back at the end of the day. That is, if I don’t get too distracted by watching superbowl highlights since I won’t be able to watch the game.
Random musing: what’s up with the Orioles that they’re fine with not one, but two of their big money guys playing in the series when every other team refuses to release even its role players? Miguel Tejada and Ramon Hernandez are the two biggest names in the series, and Daniel Cabrera started for the Caribbean Series champion Licey Tigers in the ’06 series. Either Baltimore trainers want their guys playing their way into shape early, or there’s an organizational recklessness at play when it comes to risk management.
[Update] Venezuela trounces Mexico 13-3.
In 3 games so far, Mexico has been outscored 33-4. Ouch.
Moment of the game: after Karim Garcia was ejected for arguing a double play call, he tried to get the Mexican fans riled up as he walked back to the dugout. He got absolutely no response from the otherwise enthusiastic Mexican contingent at the tournament.
The fact that Mexico’s best center fielder is this guy really tells you all you need to know about the team.
1. Alex Cora
2. Luis R. Figueroa
3. Hiram Bocachica
4. Juan Gonzalez!
5. Javier Valentin
6. Armando Rios
7. Yadier Molina
8. Ruben Gotay
9. Luis Matos
SP: Brian Edwards
1. Gregor Blanco
2. Luis Rodriguez
3. Jose Castillo
4. Ramon Hernandez
5. Randall Simon
6. Luis Maza
7. Ronny Cedeno
8. Oscar Salazar
9. Alexander Delgado
SP: Cory Bailey!
For some reason, Puerto Rico’s the away team, even though we’re playing in the Gigantes’ home stadium.
[Update] Top 1st. The crowd goes absolutely crazy as Juan Gonzalez’s name is announced, and then absolutely nuts when he ropes a single into left field.
[Update] Middle-2nd: 0-0
Conversation with the Venezuelan reporter sitting next to me, upon me telling him that I’m a Mariners fan:
Venezuelan reporter: Is Seattle a big market?
Me: Yeah, the market includes 3 big cities, 4 states, and all of Western Canada.
Venezuelan Reporter: So you have a big payroll, and one of the worst teams in the league.
[Update] Middle 6th, 2-2
Ronny Cedeno just made a sweet diving stop to turn a single into a double play. Puerto Rico’s runs came on two successive weird plays – an errant throw to third that hit Javier Valentin as he prepared to go into a slide and rolled into the outfield and a ball that bounced off the pitcher right into Venezuelan catcher Alexander Delgado’s hands a fraction of a second too late to tag Armando Rios out at home.
[Update] Puerto Rico won, 6-3, setting up a battle of the undefeateds on Sunday when they face the Dominican Republic in the night game. Juan Carlos Ovalles balked in a run to put the game safely out of reach for Venezuela, who has been self-destructing the entire series.
I wasn’t about to even attempt any kind of coverage on the Mexico/Puerto Rico game that began at about 11:30 last night. We left the stadium a little before 3:30 in the morning, and the top of the 9th was just getting underway. The game did highlight an interesting problem with previewing events like the Caribbean Series: when you look at the names of the guys playing, the first thing you think about is how the lineups stack up. Though they didn’t show it in their 11-1 loss to Puerto Rico last night, the Mexican lineup stacks up pretty well with the other 3 teams. What I didn’t know was that their outfield defense would be among the worst I’ve seen since little league. Defensive miscues by the unit of Jon Weber (LF), Alfredo Amezaga (an infielder playing CF), and Luis Garcia (RF) cost the Mexican team at least 3 runs last night. In this afernoon’s game against the Dominican Republic, Mexico will have Karim Garcia – a below average right fielder in the majors – manning center field. God help us.
Onto the lineups:
1. Anderson Hernández
2. Luis Polonia, DH
3. Miguel Tejada, SS
4. Tony Batista, 3B
5. Nelson Cruz, RF
6. José Fernandez, 1B
7. Alex Fernández, CF
8. Alberto Castillo, C
9. Bernia Castro, L
SP: Jose Acevedo
- Alfredo Amézaga, 2B (probably safer than CF…God his defense sucks)
- Juan Canizalez, 1B
- Erubiel Durazo, DH
- Luis A. García, RF
- Karim García, CF
- Derek White, LF
- Vinny Castilla, 3B
- Herber Gómez, 3B
- Adan Amezcua, C
SP: Pablo Ortega
[Update] Top 6th, 4-0 Dominican Republic
A Miguel Tejada RBI single followed by back-to-back jacks by Tony Batista and Nelson Cruz account for all of the scoring so far.
A handful of Mexico fans showed up to the stadium in Lucha Libre masks.
[Update] Top 7th, 9-0 Dominican Republic
If this were the olympics (or little league), Mexico would very likely have had their first two games ended early via the mercy rule. The Mexican team sucks.
[Update] Final, 9-0 Dominican Republic
Highlights: 2 Tony Batista home runs, including an inside-the-parker.
*I’ve now seen Nelson Cruz in person 4 times. In those 4 games, he’s hit 5 home runs.
So I’m sitting here after game 1, and I get a call from across the press room from Baseball America’s Chris Kline, one of the few Americans down here covering the series. The following is a paraphrase of the conversation (I’m sure Chris will post a better account of it over at BA soon, since he was actually there):
Chris: Dude, you totally missed it!
Chris: I just got a hug from Jose Lima!
Me: Um…do you even know Jose Lima?
Chris: No! I’ve never met him! He just came up to me after the press conference and told me how good it was to see me! Then he promised to give me his jersey and hat after the series and gave me a big bear hug. It was weird.
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