January 16, 2009
By Mariana Martínez
The U.S. loves baseball, and this contagious love has infected northern Mexico and whole countries like Cuba and the Dominican Republic, making them producers and exporters of international talents.
Baja and San Diego baseball fans should rejoice at the sound of the 2009 Caribbean Series happening right in their own back yard, in Mexicali, Baja California from February 2nd to 7th, just a short drive away to Calexico and across the border from San Diego.
All 12 games will be broadcast on MLB Network, making them the first live games of this new television station, whose executives promise uncut images of the games as well as the best plays and exclusive programming on their show, “Hot Stove”.
The Caribean Series is a long lived tradition dating back to 1949, between the winning teams of each of the countries in the Caribbean Confederation who, once chosen, can add the best players of their country, even if they play on another team.
Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela and México are the current participating countries that are soon to arrive in Mexicali.
The series was born as a duel between rival national champions, inspired by the Interamerican Series, a tournament held at the old San Agustin Stadium, with teams from Mexico, US, Cuba and Venezuela, from 1946 to 1950.
After facing high and low times for the last sixty years, the series faces the new year in the midst of a financial crisis, further complicated by a revision of the rules to allow new countries to play and a possible change of the format.
Meanwhile, Mexicali residents will have to lick their wounds because their home team, the Mexicali Eagles, where eliminated by the Mochis Cañeros de los Mochis in the sixth game of the playoff, preventing them from playing in the Series held in their home town.
Through it all, Mexicali’s mayor, Rodolfo Valdez Gutiérrez, said he is proud of their home team and their performance.
“This is our chance to be gracious hosts for this event, in the spirit of sports: you win some, you lose some” he said, after urging Mexicali residents to support the Mexican team from Guasave, Sinaloa.
But even still hurting from the pain of defeat, Mexicali Business Buro President, Alfredo Babún Villarreal, said Baja California has “the house in order” for the arrival of the teams and their followers.
As part of the festivities, the “Geo” Stadium had a recent visit by the Mexican Pacific League president, Renato Vega Alvarado, for a last minute inspection.
The stadium, home of the Mexicali Eagles, underwent deep renovation prior to this event, including new grass, a new press room and umpire locker rooms, as well as a luxurious Club House.
“I’m ecstatic to find such a great backdrop for this festival and I dare to say this is the best stadium in Mexico” said Alvarado, “fans will play a defining role and should be saving their appetite for the great feast that awaits us”.