Monday, January 30, 2017

2017 Caribbean Series field set, play opens Wednesday in Culiacan

Now that the Mexicali Aguilas and Licey Tigres have won pennants in the Mexican Pacific League and Dominican League, respectively, the five-team field has been firmed for the 2017 Caribbean Series.  Play will open Wednesday afternoon at 3:00PM MST (2200 UTC) when Cuba's Granma Alazanes take on Licey at Culiacan's 20,000-seat Estadio Tomateros while the Aguilas will battle Puerto Rico's Roberto Clemente League champion Caguas Criollos on Wednesday night at 8:00PM MST (0300 URC). The  Venezuelan Professional Baseball League pennant-winners, the Zulia Aguilas, will have an opening day bye.

Here is a schedule of games for the seven-day event, concluding with the February 7 title contest:

Wednesday, February 1
3pm MST/2200 UTC   Granma (CUBA) at Aragua (DR)
6:30pm MST/0130 UTC   Opening Ceremonies
8pm MST/0300UTC    Caguas (PR) at Mexicali (MEX)
Bye: Zulia (VZ)

Thursday, February 2
3pm MST/2200 UTC   Zulia (VZ) at Caguas (PR)
7pm MST/2100 UTC   Mexicali (MEX) at Aragua (DR)
Bye: Granma (CUBA)

Friday, February 3
3pm MST/2200 UTC   Caguas (PR) at Granma (CUBA)
8pm MST/0300 UTC   Zulia (VZ) at Mexicali (MEX)
Bye: Aragua (DR)

Saturday, February 4
1pm MST/2000 UTC   Aragua (DR) at Caguas (PR)
5pm MST/0000 UTC   Granma (CUBA) at Zulia (VZ)
Bye: Mexicali (MEX)

Sunday, February 5
1pm MST/2000 UTC   Aragua (DR) at Zulia (VZ)
5pm MST/0000 UTC   Mexicali (MEX) at Granma (CUBA)
Bye: Caguas (PR)

Monday, February 6
1pm MST/2000 UTC   TBA
5pm MST/0000 UTC   TBA

Tuesday, February 7
1pm MST/2000 UTC   TBA

And now here's an edited profile of Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico taken from BBM's "Mexican Baseball Road Trip" posts during the 2009-10 season:

This week, we pay a visit to Culiacan, home of the Tomateros. Culiacan is set a few miles inland from the
Gulf of California, two hours north of Mazatlan.  While Mazatlan is a better-known place among North Americans,
Culiacan is a thriving city and state capital of Sinaloa.  The name “Culiacan” is an old native word which means
“place where they adore the God Coltzin.”

A city of over 600,000 residents, Culiacan was a small village when Spanish conquistador Nuno Beltran
de Guzman founded the villa of San Miguel de Culiacan on September 29, 1531.  From the end of the sixteenth
century and throughout much of the 1700’s, San Miguel de Culiacan served as an important staging area for the
Spanish conquest of the Mexican West.  However, independence from Spain was eventually won for Mexico in the
early 1820’s, and Culiacan was granted the status of “city” in 1823.  At that time, Sinaloa’s state capital was in
Mazatlan, but was eventually shifted to Culiacan in 1873.

As with most MexPac cities, Culiacan is an agricultural center, surrounded by some of the most arable
Land in Mexico of which the major crop is tomatoes.  While Culiacan has a reputation as a tough town, it is also a
modern city with a fine State university in the city center, a lovely 19th Century cathedral sitting three
blocks away from the ubiquitous Mexican mercado, there are beaches on the Gulf a few miles away in Atlata and
El Tambor, and Ernesto Millan Escalante Park features gardens, pools, an open-air Hellenic theater and the
longest water slide in northern Mexico.  The Centro Cultural Genaro Estrada contains two theaters, several
museums and a cafĂ©, and is a centerpiece for the arts.  There are several good restaurants in town, and one of the
most popular regional dishes is steak cabreria, which features six different toppings and side dishes…definitely
worth a try.

           The Tomateros have given their fans a lot to cheer about over the years, with ten Mex Pac pennants
since 1967.  Five of those came under manager Francisco “Paquin” Estrada, who also brought two Caribbean
Series titles home to Culiacan.  The city first hosted the CS in 2001 at the old Estadio General Angel Flores,
with the Dominican champion Cibaenas Aguilas winning the four-team competition.