Friday, September 11, 2009

MEXICANS CRUSH CZECHS TO CLINCH SECOND ROUND BERTH


Mexico made it two consecutive dominant wins Friday by clobbering the host Czech Republic, 9-0, to go to 2-0 in Pool A play and punching their ticket into the second round of the tournament.

Starter Francisco Cordova (pictured) struck out nine Czech batsmen in six innings for the win, while Jaciel Acosta and Alan Guerrero combined to pitch three hitless innings as Mexican pitchers racked up 15 strikeouts and allowed just three hits and walked two.

Mexico broke open a scoreless tie with four runs in the bottom of the third inning as Sergio Contreras blasted a three-run homer to center field off Czech starter Martin Schneider. The Mexican put three more tallies on the scoreboard in the fifth when Edgar Quintero sent his second homer in as many games off Schneider over the right field wall to make it 7-0. Schneider absorbed the loss for the Czechs by allowing seven runs in five innings. The longball brought in two more runs one inning later when Ivan Terrazas conked a two-run homer to center field to end the scoring for the game.

Mexico will finish pool play Saturday with a game against Australia.

COTA BELTS 3 HOMERS IN WORLD CUP OPENING ROMP


Jesus Cota, who belted home runs for Saltillo in each of the first four games of Saltillo’s Mexican League Championship Series win over Quintana Roo, whacked three longballs in Mexico’s 8-0 whitewashing of Taiwan in the Baseball World Cup’s Pool A opener for both nations Thursday in the Czech Republic.

Mexico scored their first run on a groundout as Carlos Valencia’s bases-loaded fielder’s choice dribbler to short in the second brought Saul Soto in from third to put the Verde Grande up 1-0, but that was no indication of what lay ahead. Cota powered a two-out solo homer to right field in the third to make it 2-0, drilled another roundtripper to right in the sixth to put the score at 3-0, and then bashed a three-run bomb to key a five-run seventh inning outburst to give the Mexicans a 7-0 advantage. Edgar Quintero followed Cota with a rocket shot of his own to center to bring it to 8-0.

Starter Rafael Diaz, a teammate of Cota’s in Saltillo, tossed six scoreless innings for the win, allowing six hits and two walks for Mexico.


HAIL CESAR! VAQUEROS 2B NAMED 2009 MEXICAN LEAGUE MVP


Laguna Vaqueros second baseman Dionys Cesar capped off a great summer by being named the Mexican League’s Most Valuable Player for 2009. The award was voted upon by baseball writers in Mexico.

Cesar led the Liga in four offensive categories, including a .380 batting average, 156 hits, 36 doubles and 40 stolen bases. He also scored 92 runs, third in the circuit, and had the season’s longest hitting streak by batting safely in 32 consecutive games between April 5 and May 19.

The 32-year-old Dominican finished the regular season by grabbing the lead in the batting race in the final week of the campaign, hitting .385 for the Vaqueros. He was a key component in Laguna’s first playoff appearance in five seasons as the Cowboys advanced to the Northern Zone finals by surprising the Mexico City Diablos in the first round.

Cesar debuted in the LMB with Veracruz in 2003, and has hit .300 or better five of his six full seasons in the summer circuit.

MEXPAC SIGNS NATIONWIDE CABLE TV DEAL


The Mexican Pacific League is a lock to have many more people watching its games this winter…not at the ballparks, but in front of TV screens.

MexPac president Omar Canizales announced a deal Thursday that will bring winter league games into homes throughout 23 of Mexico’s 31 states on the Megacable television company. Megacable has more than 1.5 million subscribers in 178 cities across the county, with over 4.000 employees on the company’s payroll.

Canizales said, “This is a strategic agreement because we want to spread our league not only in Sinaloa, Sonora and Baja California, which is our natural market, but also the entire country so we can be in the 23 states where we have fans with the cable systems that exist in this company.”

Megacable will negotiate to broadcast all four LMP games per day during the season to a varying area and audience, including at least one “stellar play” game sent out on a nationwide basis.

EX-ROYALS OF DEE BROWN SIGNS WITH CULIACAN


Former Kansas City Royals starting left fielder Dee Brown has signed on to play this winter with the Culiacan Tomateros in the Mexican Pacific League. Culiacan general manager Jaime Blancarte announced the signing of the 31-year-old New York City native last Wednesday.

Brown was the Royals first round draft pick (14th overall) in 1996, and he debuted with Kansas City two years later. Since then the left-handed batter has played all or part of eight major league seasons with the Royals and Athletics. His best year was in 2001, when he hit .245 with seven homers and 40 RBIs in 106 games for Kansas City. Overall, he’s batted .233 with 14 homers and 89 ribbies in 271 big league games.

Brown spent this summer with the Dodgers’ AAA affiliate in Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League, batting .290 with 19 homers and 80 RBIs in 121 games.

The Tomateros also added 28-year-old shortstop Mike McCoy to their roster. McCoy hit .307 with 40 steals and 102 runs for Colorado Springs in the PCL this year before being called up to Colorado of the National League last Tuesday.

MEXICAN BASEBALL HISTORY 2: The Liga Reorganizes

The death of Jorge Pasquel in 1955 put an exclamation point on the end of the free-spending era of Mexican League baseball, but by then, the Liga had problems of its own. Pasquel was a tempestuous man, but when he pulled out of the game altogether in 1951, he left a void not easily replaced, and the Liga was on the deathwatch by the winter of 1954-55.

However, two things saved pro baseball in Mexico: Most important was the infusion of new ownership of teams in the Mexican League, bringing new capital and ideas. The reformed Liga then made peace with the Major Leagues and Organized Baseball, who had severed relations with the “outlaw” league after Pasquel’s concerted player raids in 1946 raised salaries across the border when American teams were forced to pay better to keep their players. The “new” Mexican League officially became a Class AA minor league, ending the ten-year war.

Among the new owners, the most notable was Alejo Peralta, who began the Mexico City Tigres in 1955. Peralta was similar to Pasquel in that he was a very wealthy man, but there was a vast difference between the two men in the kinds of teams they built. Where Pasquel tried to recruit top players from America to Veracruz, Peralta insisted that the Tigres’ roster consist entirely of Mexican players. Pasquel wanted to build a dynasty, period, but Peralta wanted to prove Mexicans could be great ballplayers without foreign help. Peralta’s Tigres went on to win six Liga pennants through 1997 (the year he died at age 80), he personally started two minor leagues and supported another, and served as LMB commissioner for many years. He is arguably the most important man in Mexican baseball history.

The solidified Mexican League then entered a period of relative stability for several years, although (as now) a number of teams came and went. Mexico City was shared for decades by the Tigres and Diablos Rojos until the Tigres finally left town and began an odyssey that has seen them end up in Cancun, former home of the Langosteros franchise which was displaced after severe hurricanes in 2006 caused severe damage to the ballpark there. Other long-standing teams over the years have been the Veracruz Aguilas, Monterrey Sultanes, Yucatan Leones, Campeche Piratas and the Saltillo Saraperos.

Ironically, before Saltillo won the pennant in 2009, the only other time the Saraperos claimed the flag in their 40-year history was in the strike-interrupted season of 1980. That year, the Liga season began as normal in March amid growing calls among Mexican players for higher wages and allegations of preferential treatment for imported players from the United States. Finally, the domestic players walked off the job in July and eventually formed their own league of striking players in various Mexican cities. Although the Liga tried to fill with void with strikebreaking players, the remainder of the 1980 was a disaster, with no playoffs held. Although Saltillo was awarded the Mexican League “pennant because the Saraperos had the best record when play halted, many historians do not recognize the championship as legitimate.

Although the Mexican League is now considered Class AAA by Minor League Baseball, it is unlike any other circuit in that all Liga teams are independent. It perhaps bears the closest resemblance to the old-time minor leagues among all current members of Organized Baseball.
At present, the Mexican League has 16 teams in two divisions, with a 110-game regular season running between March and July, followed by playoffs throughout August.

NEXT WEEK: MEXICAN BASEBALL HISTORY 3: The Mexican Pacific League