The Caribbean Series started Monday and things are getting muy caliente in Mexicali, Mexico. The annual playoff series for the best Winter League teams from the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela features just a smattering of your favorite Latino MLB stars and some future prospects. The Puerto Rican Winter League even got their act together and fielded a team for 2009 (as opposed to last year). Heck, things are so wild down there this year, they even put White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen (career Caribbean Series batting average: .154) on a billboard.
Which of your favorite MLB players are participating this year? Mexico's team is the Mazatlan Stags and features the fighting Gonzalez brothers, Adrian and Edgar. They both play for the Padres back in the USA and actually have a clause in their contracts that states they will only suit up and play if their brother is on the same team. Talk about co-dependency! Oddly enough, the ace pitcher for this staff is also named Edgar Gonzalez. Look for TV Azteca's new reality show entitled "Ayudame! Too Many Gonzalezes!" this spring. With a four-run explosion in the 12th inning, Mexico eked out a win over Puerto Rico last night and is a tidy 3-1.
The Dominican Republic is repped by the Licey Tigers, the reigning Caribbean Series champs. Licey features the fighting Aybar brothers, Erick and Willy, Jose Bautista, Ronnie Belliard, Ronnie Paulino, Ronnie Spector, and manager Jose Offerman. Unfortunately, the Tigers pitching staff headed north once the season ended so they lost closer Carlos Marmol and ace starter Daniel Cabrera; this might explain why Los Tigres have been eliminated from contention after last night's loss.
Puerto Rico sent the Ponce Lions this year, but most of the MLB representation for the team has left the team high and dry. See ya, Ivan Rodriguez, Bernie Williams, Pedro Feliciano, and Javy Vazquez. Hello, Robinson Cancel! No wonder the team has yet to win a game. Still, Venezuela has a bunch of no-names on the team, and yet are undefeated to this point. After toppling the D.R. yesterday, they'll face Mexico tonight with the championship at stake.
As for the actual games, the series is a double round-robin format with twelve games happening during the first six days of action, ending tomorrow. This week has seen some real gems: Adrian and Edgar Gonzalez knocked in all three runs of Mexico's 3-1 win over Puerto Rico on Monday. Just before hastily leaving Mexico to tend to a sore elbow, Mets prospect Fernando Martinez hit a seventh inning pinch hit ding-dong on Tuesday to lead the D.R. over Puerto Rico, 2-1. Venezuela moved to 3-0 on Wednesday when they toppled Puerto Rico 5-2 on Wednesday. Yes, not unlike West Side Story, the Caribbean Series is all about beating up on Puerto Ricans.
The MVP so far has to be Mexico's Adrian Gonzalez who hit a record three ding-dongs in Wednesday's win over a struggling Dominican Republic squadron. The big guy must be thrilled to finally be playing in a park where home run balls don't die in the cavernous San Diego outfield gaps.
So stay tuned tonight at 9PM EST for the Mexico/Venezuela tilt, WoWies. Sure, the baseball season is still weeks away but the good folks at the MLB Network are already showing us live baseball on television.
Every fact in this story was purloined from Derek Jacques' coverage at Baseball Prospectus