Thursday, February 9, 2012

NOTAS DEL CARIBE: Looking back at the 2012 Caribbean Series

With the 2012 Caribbean Series now in the taillights, I thought I’d put some random thoughts and notes together about the past week in Santo Domingo…

*The CS All-Star Team was announced, with one selection from the Mexican Pacific League champion Obregon Yaquis, who lost their final three games to finish last with a 2-4 record after winning the Serie del Caribe last winter. The lone Yaqui to make the All-Star squad was catcher Iker Franco, who led Obregon with a .267 average. Franco was omitted in an earlier announcement of CS All-Stars by the host Liga Dominicana.
For the record, here are the 2012 CS All-Stars: 1B-Hector Jimenez, Aragua (VZ), 2B-Pablo Ozuna, Escogido (DR), 3B-Luis Figueroa, Mayaguez (PR), SS-Miguel Rojas, Aragua (VZ), OFs-Andy Dirks, Escogido (DR), Adonis Garcia, Aragua (VZ), and Jesus Feliciano, Mayaguez (PR), C-Iker Franco, Obregon (MX), DH-Luis Jimenez, Aragua (VZ), LHSP-Raul Valdez, Escogido (DR), RHSP-Nelson Figueroa, Mayaguez (PR), RP-Jairo Asencio, Escogido (DR) and MGR-Ken Oberkfell, Escogido (PR).
Asencio, a Braves farmhand, was named the MVP after tossing three innings in three games, saving all three for the Leones while allowing no baserunners.

*Attendance at the CS left much to be desired. The Dominican League website, hardly the place to go for dispassionate discourse on an event they were hosting, pointed out that the 11,400-seat Estadio Quisquaya was never sold out, with about 8,000 fans showing up for a game between LiDom champion Escogido and Puerto Rican League representative Mayaguez on the third day. Unofficial estimates are that about 6,000 per day turned out for the six doubleheaders, although organizers never did release official attendance figures.
Perhaps one reason for the low turnout was ticket prices, which ranged from US$5 per day for the nosebleed seats overlooking left and right field to $70 per day for corporate boxes (it was $40 per day to sit behind home plate), with no breaks for people buying six-day passes. That may not seem like much for Americans in a nation with a per capita income of $48,100, but with a PCI of $9,300 in Dominica, tickets can start adding up, especially when there were so few of those $5 seats available. Hopefully, organizers for next year’s CS at the new ballpark in Hermosillo will take note and not price Mexican fans out.

*Speaking of future Caribbean Series, a delegation from the Caribbean Baseball Confederation will be heading to Havana in March (hats in hand, no doubt) to make another attempt to convince Cuban baseball authorities to rejoin the CS. Cuba was one of the original four nations in the CS between 1949 and 1960 until Fidel Castro took power and pulled out of the Serie, effectively killing the event for eleven winters until it was reorganized in 1970 by replacing Cuba and Panama with Mexico and Venezuela.
Two problems for the CS, however: The Serie runs while the Cuban National Series regular season still has more than two months to go. Who would they send? The previous winter’s champion? An All-Star Team? How badly will Cuban baseball want to stretch their regular season another week?
The second problem is that the CS needs Cuba more than Cuba needs the CS, especially since there would be concerns regarding possible defections among Cuban players outside the country.

*There are three nations that have applied for admission to the Serie del Caribe, but Confederation president Juan Francisco Puella rejected them outright, addressing financial difficulties among leagues in Colombia, Nicaragua and Panama by saying, “In regards to those leagues, if you can’t take care of your own house, you can’t take on another.” Puella apparently has a short memory, since the Puerto Rican League suspended operations in 2007-08 because of attendance and money problems. They were welcomed back with open arms one year later.