Monday, March 22, 2010

MONCLOVA TOPS SALTILLO IN 2010 LIGA SEASON OPENER

Jasiel Acosta (pictured) turned in a solid start and first baseman Pedro Diaz contributed a pair of hits and two RBIs to lead the Monclova Acereros to a 5-2 win over the defending Mexican League champion Saltillo Saraperos on March 16 at Saltillo in the 2010 LMB season opener.

Acosta gave up one unearned run on three hits and one walk over his five frames for Monclova to take the win, while Saltillo starter Mario Mendoza, Jr. took the loss after allowing four runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings in front of 11,500 fans in Estadio Francisco I. Madero. Five relievers followed Acosta and combined to hold Saltillo to one more run over the final four innings as Tim Lavigne worked his way through a scoreless ninth inning to earn the save for the Steelers.

Diaz went 2-for-4 for Monclova, including a two-out single up the middle in the top of the fifth inning to drive in Ismael Salas and Saul Soto. Diaz was one of three Acereros with two hits in the contest along with Salas and Gonzalo Meza. DH Sandy Madera doubled and hit a solo homer for Saltillo, while Saraperos outfielder Jesus Cota turned in a 2-for-4 night at the plate.

NEARLY 140,000 SAID TO CLICK TURNSTILES AT LMB LIDLIFTERS

Attendance numbers looked good for last week’s Mexican League opening games, with a total of 139,439 reported to have attended the LMB’s 16 home openers in eight two-game series between March 16 and 18, good for an average of 8,715 fans per game.
The largest crowd was in Monterrey, where the Sultanes drew 17,582 attendees to their tilt with the Mexico City Diablos Rojos as Monterrey, Mexico City, Saltillo, Puebla and Yucatan all drew over 10,000 fans for their openers. The smallest reported crowd was in Minatitlan, where the Petroleros hosted Veracruz in front of a cozy gathering of 3,000.
While attendance figures for the northern teams were higher than their counterparts to the south, at least one longtime observer of Mexican baseball has registered his skepticism. Former University of Texas-Harlingen professor Jim McCurdy, a native Texan who played semipro ball south of the border before embarking on an academic career, says one contact told him that while Reynosa reported a crowd of 5,409 for their opener against Nuevo Laredo, that number looked inflated. Another contact in Nuevo Laredo told McCurdy that while the box score of the Tecos’ game with the Broncos reported an even 8,000 in the stands, “no way” were that many fans there.

McCurdy reiterated his concern that drug war violence would affect attendance for border teams, adding that other northern LMB cities are now dealing with the same problems.

VEGA NAMED MEXPAC CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD

Los Mochis Caneros team president Joaquin Vega was voted in as the Mexican Pacific League’s Chairman of the Board last Thursday at a league meeting in Hermosillo. Vega will succeed Enrique Mazon, who served nine years as LMP chairman. Mazon, who is president of the MexPac champion Hermosillo Naranjeros, was named LMP Executive of the Year earlier this month.

Vega will work with LMP president Omar Canizalez on building the league’s marketing effort while helping maintain a sense of balance among the eight league franchises. One of the first issues Vega will face is the question of whether to allow television instant replay in helping umpires determine home run calls. ”Everything will depend on the technology that exists in the stadiums so the umpires can make this work efficiently,” he said.

Another item on the MexPac agenda will be a possible reconfiguration of the playoff system to coincide with a likely earlier start to the 2011 Caribbean Series, which will be played at 10,500-seat Estadio Isadoro Garcia in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. Historically, the CS has been held the first week of February, but may be moved to the last week of January to allow for more time between the end of the winter baseball season and the beginning of Major League spring training.