Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Admiral's Row: And then there was one



And then there was one...


Formerly
Admiral's Row




ADMIRAL'S ROW THEN:
Construction dating 1838 through 1881









Historical graphics provided by 
Scott Witter




























Monday, February 13, 2017

N.Y. Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist Wins #400

From the desk of:  RAISE GRESCH WITH THE GREATS



HENRIK LUNDQVIST
CAREER WIN
400
Feb. 11, 2017
Rangers 4; Avalanche 2
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN

GOALIE - N.Y. RANGERS
2005 - present

CAREER RECORD
400 - 242 - 73
.920 Sv%
2.30 GAA


  • Henrik Lundqvist became only the twelfth goalie in NHL history to achieve 400 regular season victories.  He is the first non-Canadian goalie to achieve 400 victories, and is also the fastest to achieve 400 victories (727 games).
  • He joined Martin Brodeur and Tony Esposito as the only NHL goalies to ever register 400 wins with one team.
  • Henrik Lundqvist has so far won thirty or more games in ten seasons, has gained 225 of his victories at Madison Square Garden, and has won 55 playoff games.
  • Mike Richter is second on the New York Rangers all-time list with 301 wins.


N.Y. Mets: The Future Starting Rotation is Now

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET



The Truck o' Stuff has Arrived
Pitchers and Catchers are in the building.
The rest of the position players report Feb. 18

THE FOUR FIVE HURLERS of the METROPOLIS

Thor    deGrominator    Dark Knight    Super Matz    and Zack Wheeler?


Entering Spring Training, manager Terry Collins let it be known there will be an open competition for the fifth rotation spot between Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo, and Robert Gsellman.

Both Gsellman, 23, and Lugo, 27, made their major league debut last season, and in the pressures of a pennant race performed very well.

Gsellman made eight appearances and seven starts, in which he went 4-2 with a 2.42 ERA, and a 1.276 WHiP with 42 strikeouts through 44.2 innings pitched.  Lugo made 18 appearances and eight starts, in which he posted a 5-2 record with a 2.67 ERA and 1.094 WHiP through 64 innings pitched, with 45 strikeouts.

It's been a long road back for Zack Wheeler, who will turn 28-years old in May.  He is arguably the incumbent heading into Spring Training to win the fifth spot.  But he last threw a major league pitch on Sept. 25, 2014 at Washington in a losing effort against the Nationals.  He has missed all of the last two seasons, save for facing four batters last year while rehabbing with Port St. Lucie.  He'll surely be on a pitch count this season, and will likely be shifting into the bullpen at some point anyway (despite preliminary protestations).

That in turn will leave the door wide open for either Gsellman and/or Lugo to step in.  Overall, this is a good problem for Terry Collins to have.

The same can't be said of TC's number four starter.  There is no doubting Steven Matz' physical ability, but questions abound where it concerns his durability.  Matz has yet to prove he can stay healthy.  Otherwise, Steven is a dynamite kid who has proven he belongs in the bigs.  The upcoming 2017 season will serve as a test, then, to see whether he can withstand the rigors of a long major league season.  Until then, Matz likewise provides Gsellman and Lugo yet another reason to stay sharp and prepare for duty on a moment's notice.

Then there's Matt Harvey ... the Darkened Knight.  His 2016 season literally fizzled out like a bottle rocket on the 4th of July.  And of course, he missed all of 2014 recovering from Tommy John surgery. It is reasonable to believe this man will be fueled by frustration.  Whatever his motivation, this much is certain: Matt Harvey still has much to prove, and his super agent Scott Boras knows it.  He is indeed a supreme talent, but the Dark Knight is now the measure of himself.  That being said, I hope Terry Collins learned his lesson as far as sticking to his guns when it comes to dealing with Harvey.

Jacob deGrom, who turns 29-years old in June, pitched 43 less innings in 2016 than during the 2015 season.  His ERA, WHiP, and rate of strikeouts were all down, while his rate of hits allowed and walks were up from the previous season.  Sure enough, deGrom succumbed to forearm and elbow discomfort in September and would undergo surgery to re-position the ulnar nerve.  Earlier this month, he said his elbow was pain free.

Noah Syndergaard's off-season weight-gain regimen seems all the rage.  The Mets Nordic ace gained roughly fifteen pounds in an effort to get stronger and increase his late season durability.  Thor claims he accomplished this while applying equal attention to a pitcher's need for flexibility.  Already in possession of a 100 mph fastball, he stated his desire to throw even harder.


From Marc Simon, ESPN

  • The Mets have never had five pitchers make thirty starts in the same season.  They've had four pitchers make thirty starts on six occasions: 1976, 1986, 1989, 1990, 2000, 2003.

The Brooklyn Bushwicks and Dexter Park

From the desk of: BROOKLYN BASEBALL HISTORY




...and the baseball club from Brooklyn wins the Caribbean championship!

Perhaps not this year, but it happened, folks.  And not just once, but multiple times.


Brief History: Serie del Caribe

The inspiration for first creating a tournament whereby the best Caribbean winter league baseball clubs would vie for a championship is credited to Venezuelan businessman Jesus Corao.

In 1946, in Caracas, the first Inter-American Series was held between teams representing Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, and representing the United States ... the Brooklyn Bushwicks.  Five Caribbean series were held in Caracas between 1946 and 1950, with Brooklyn winning the first four and Venezuela winning the last.

The success of the series did not go unnoticed.  In 1946 two Venezuelan entrepreneurs pitched the idea of a Caribbean series to what became the original members of the Confederation of Caribbean Baseball (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Panama, and Venezuela).  In August 1949, in Havana, they signed an agreement creating an tournament whereby each nation's respective champion would vie for the Serie del Caribe title.

The rest, as they say, is Caribbean beisbol history...

  • Cuba won the inaugural Serie del Caribe of 1949-50, then captured a second in 1952.  Between 1956 through 1960, Cuba reeled off another five straight Caribbean titles.  However, as part of his revolution Fidel Castro disbanded the county's professional baseball circuits.  
  • At the same time, Panama's professional league ceased operations as well.  As a result, the Serie del Caribe was suspended between the years 1961 through 1969.
  • The four team Caribbean tournament resumed when the Dominican Republic joined the confederation in 1970 (with returning Venezuela and Puerto Rico), and when Mexico joined in 1971. 
  • The 2016-17 winter season marked Cuba's fourth straight reappearance in the Serie del Caribe. In 2014, Cuba participated in their first Serie del Caribe since 1960, and one short year later captured their first title in 55 years, and the country's eighth overall.  For now, they continue participating on an invitation basis extended by the four member confederation.
  • Most recently, the Criollos de Caguas baseball club representing Puerto Rico defeated Mexico's Aguilas de Mexicali, capturing the Serie del Caribe 2017 title, and thus becoming the 59th champion in the tournament's history.

The Brooklyn Bushwicks

They were an independent semi-pro club and easily one of the game's more unheralded New York City enterprises to ever take the baseball field.

The Bushwicks were owned by a gentleman named Max Rosner, whom immigrated to the United States in 1892 from Hungary.  A businessman in the cigar trade, he was soon sponsoring and even playing shortstop for a local team named the Paramounts in the neighborhood of Williamsburg.

A few years after the Paramounts disbanded, in 1913 Rosner purchased the nearby Ridgewood Nine semi-pro club, and in 1914 renamed them the Bushwicks.  The former Ridgewoods had previously played their home games since 1902 at Wallace's Grounds located at Halsey and Irvin streets in Bushwick.  Rosner's team remained there until a fire in 1917 destroyed the grandstands.

In 1918, the Brooklyn Bushwicks moved into Dexter Park where they played out the remainder of their existence.  At its height, the park grew to hold upwards of 15,000 fans for their traditional Sunday double-headers.  And for good reason, the team was good.

Former President of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Jack Lang said, "In any given game, the Bushwicks had up to five men in the line-up who had some major league experience."

Whether playing for the Bushwicks or in exhibitions against them, Whitey Ford, Dazzy Vance, Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Dizzy Dean, Carl Hubbell, Casey Stengel, Jackie Robinson, Phil Rizzuto, Joe Medwick, and Hank Greenberg, were just a few (future or former) major league notables whom participated in games at Dexter Park.

The Brooklyn Bushwicks always maintained multicultural diverse rosters, and likewise hosted the finest Negro Leagues competition of the day, featuring their fellow Dexter Park tenant Brooklyn Royal Giants, Adrian Page Fence Giants, Cleveland Buckeyes, Cuban Giants, Philadelphia Giants, Roy Campanella and the Baltimore Elite Giants, Josh Gibson and the Homestead Grays, and other stars Cool Papa Bell, Satchel Paige, et al.

Jackie Robinson's breaking of baseball's color barrier and the resulting demise of the various Negro Leagues are believed to have made it increasingly harder for Max Rosner to field quality talent and lure representative competition.  The advent of television further affected Rosner's ability to draw fans to the park.

Shortly after their participation in the Inter-America Caribbean series, the team ceased operations upon completion of their 1951 season.

Dexter Park, 1930s

The area of Dexter Park had previously existed as a racetrack, then a recreational park.  The ballpark itself which dated back to the 19th century, was located just off Jamaica Avenue on the Woodhaven side of the Brooklyn/Queens border.

Dexter Park was also the nation's first ball field to be fitted with lights, hosting the first night game in 1930, a full six seasons before the Brooklyn Dodgers played the major's first night game at Ebbets Field.



One particular optician's advertisement on the outfield wall read, "Don't kill the Umpire - Maybe it's your eyes?"  An incline also existed in right field due to a horse having been buried there.

Only in Brooklyn...



Yahoo images
covehurst.net
Green Cathedrals

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Criollos de Caguas Capture Series del Caribe 2017 Title for Puerto Rico

From the desk of: Winter League/Serie del Caribe



SERIE del CARIBE
2017
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

FINAL
Puerto Rico   1
Mexico          0
10-inn

Los Criollos de Caguas Bring Caribbean Championship Back to Puerto Rico.

La Yeguita ha llegado ...

!Los Criollos de Caguas son campeones del Caribe!

Seventeen years in the making ... the Borinquen delegation from Caguas defeated Mexico's Aguilas de Mexciali to capture the winter league's Serie del Caribe 2017 title.

They say one of the hardest things to do in Caribbean beisbol is beating Mexico, in Mexico.  Yet, Caguas did just that, overcoming the heavily favored Mexicali Eagles in extra innings Tuesday evening in the city of Culiacan.

After opening the Caribbean tournament with three consecutive loses against Mexico, Venezuela, and Cuba, los Criollos parlayed their lone first round victory over Relublico Dominicana into a semi-final appearance versus Venezuela.

Once there, Caguas avenged their opening round loss against Aguilas de Zulia with a 9-6 victory in Monday's penultimate game, and thereby earned themselves a tournament rematch against Mexico in the Serie final.

Los Criollos de Caguas prevailed 1-0 in ten innings over los Aguilas de Mexicali in the series finale before a dismayed crowd at Tomateros Stadium to capture this year's Caribbean crown for Puerto Rico.

This marks Puerto Rico's 15th Serie del Caribe title, and their first since 2000 when los Cangrejeros de Santurce last accomplished the feat.

Meanwhile, this is los Criollos de Caguas fourth Serie del Caribe title in their history, but only their first since 1987.

The thirty years wait finally ended Tuesday evening when Caguas shortstop Yadiel Rivera led off the top of the tenth inning against Mexicali with a double to right, advanced to third on a sacrifice by second basemen Jesmuel Valentin, then scored the lone run of the game on catcher Jonathan Morales' sac-fly to center.

In the bottom of the tenth, Criollos reliever Miguel Mejia retired los Aguilas de Mexicali in order to earn the win, and close out Puerto Rico's ultimate victory.

Starter Adalberto Flores faced 18 batters through six innings pitched, allowing just one hit and a walk.


Analyze all you want, they are special and believed - GM Alex Cora

Believe in themselves they did ... when it seemed as if no one else did.

Having ended their regular season with a slightly sub par .500 record, they've been labeled underdogs the day since Puerto Rico's LBPRC regular season ended and this improbable post-season journey began.  Few liked their chances against los Indios de Mayaguez in the league's semi-final, and even less liked their chances for getting by los Cangrejeros de Santurce in the LBPRC Serie Final.


Were it not for a ponderous Dominican exit from the Serie del Caribe, we may not even be having this conversation.  But Puerto Rico's road to the Caribbean title undeniably reaffirms the notion los Criollos simply continued winning when the games mattered most.

Upon conclusion of round robin play, Venezuela entered the semi-final game the top seeded team, yet fell to Caguas.  And while los Criollos entered the Serie final game with a 2-3 record, los Aguilas de Mexicali entered the final game with a Serie best 4-1 mark, and likewise fell to Caguas.


Parque Yldefonso Sola Morales
Home of 2017 Caribbean Champions
LOS CRIOLLOS de CAGUAS


Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Criollos de Caguas to Meet Aguilas de Mexicali in Serie del Caribe Final

From the desk of: La Yeguita


SERIE del CARIBE
2017
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
*            *            *            *            *
PUERTO RICO (2-3)
Criollos de Caguas
vs.
MEXICO (4-1)
Aguilas de Mexicali
FROM
Tomateros Stadium
CULIACAN, MEXICO




!Patea Yeguita Patea!

After losing their first three opening round games, los Criollos de Caguas miraculously find themselves within one victory from capturing their fourth ever Caribbean title.

Caguas avenged their opening round loss to los Aguilas de Zulia, and in doing so eliminated Venezuela from this year's Serie del Caribe with a 9-6 victory in Monday's semi-final.

But ... not before putting themselves in harm's way first.

Caguas jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the top of the first; added a pair in the third inning; scored one more in the fourth; and still one more run in the top of the fifth inning for a commanding 8-0 lead.

Venezuela finally got on the board with a run in the bottom of the fifth.  Puerto Rico promptly added another run for a 9-1 lead, but los Aguilas plated their second run in the bottom of the sixth.

Zulia then put a scare into all Puerto Rico with a four run outburst in the home eighth to close within 6-9 of Caguas.

Los Criollos went down quietly in the top of the ninth.

However, the same could not be said of los Aguilas in the bottom half of the frame.  Zulia reeled off three straight singles to load the bases off Criollos closer Ricardo Gomez.  With no outs, manager Luis Matos left his reliever in the game to sink or swim.  Gomez rewarded his confidence by striking out second baseman Ali Castillo, retiring shortstop Freddie Galvis on a shallow fly to center, then by fanning third baseman Ronny Cedeno to end the game.

Now winners of two straight, los Criollos de Caguas will face los Aguilas de Mexicali for the Serie del Caribe 2017 championship Tuesday evening at Tomateros Stadium, in Culiacan, Mexico.


SERIE del CARIBE

 VS.



In Monday evening's semi-final nightcap, three Aguilas de Mexicali lancadores combined on a nine inning whitewashing of Alazanes de Granma while limiting them to just two walks and a pair of hits, and fanning ten.

Cuba mounted their only threat in the top of the first when they put runners on second and third with one out.  But their clean-up, five and six hitters stranded them all.

Aguilas third baseman Augustin Murillo's RBI single in the 5th was all Mexico would muster, but all they would need.  Their pitching ensured it held up.

Cuban starter Lazaro Blanco was the hard luck loser, throwing 103 pitches in a seven inning effort, in which he allowed just a run on four hits and three walks, with five strikeouts.

In the recent years Cuba has been invited back to participate in the Serie del Caribe, they have quickly developed a spirited rivalry with Mexico.  To date, Mexico's lone loss of the tourney came against Cuba, but it was Mexico whom prevailed in the semis.  It was also Mexico whom eliminated the (then) defending champion Cubans in last year's tourney.

Mexico enters the final game against Puerto Rico with a tourney best 4-1 record.

*         *         *

Even the Serie Final does not come without its controversies.  Loud whispers are meant to be heard, aren't they?  People with microphones are murmuring about only the best teams should face off for the Caribbean championship.

That is obviously a shot at Caguas, who enter Tuesday's title game with just two victories in five tries.  Meanwhile, Venezuela and Cuba have been shown the door despite posting 3-2 records respectively.

Nothing but sour grapes gone international, I say ... more typical knee jerk reactions.  This is the 59th Serie del Caribe, in operation since 1949 (with two exceptions).  Point is, there's nothing wrong with the system.  If people would just take things at face value, they'd realize this is what happens when Republico Dominicana ponderously goes 0-4 and tilts the bracket.


  • Round Robin
  • 1)  VEN  3-1
  • 2)  MEX  3-1
  • 3)  CUB  3-1
  • 4)  P.R.    1-3  advanced with win over D.R. on Saturday
  • 5)  D.R.   0-4  eliminated with loss to P.R. on Saturday


  • Semi-Finals
  • P.R. def. VEN
  • MEX def. CUB


This is all another way of saying ... Criollos happen.  Deal with it, and just play the game.


Monday, February 06, 2017

Serie del Caribe: Down to the Final Four

From the desk of:  WINTER LEAGUES ... CULIACAN, MEXICO






Round robin play is complete.  And oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Los Tigres de Licey are eliminated from the Serie del Caribe.  A titan of Liga Dominicana and perennial Caribbean champions, los Tigres were undone for a third straight game on Saturday, this time by Puerto Rico's Criollos de Caguas.  With previous loses to Cuba and Mexico, their tournament concluded Sunday with a fourth straight albeit an inconsequential loss to Venezuela.

Los Criollos de Caguas on the other hand just barely escaped elimination themselves with their aforementioned last ditch do-or-die victory over Licey.  After putting themselves in peril of elimination with consecutive losses to Cuba, Venezuela, then Mexico, they rolled to a 10-2 rout in Saturday's face-off against Republico Dominicana.  Los Criollos enter the semi-finals as the 4th seed.

Four games of round robin play resulted in a three way tie, with Mexico, Cuba, and Venezuela, all posting 3-1 records.  Mexico, however, wins the top seed and will face Puerto Rico in Monday's second game.

 vs.


In what many felt would be a serie final preview, los Aguilas de Mexicali were whitewashed by Cuba's Granma club 4-0 on Sunday.  It was Mexico's first loss of the tourney after posting consecutive victories over Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Venezuela.  They will be home team in the semi-finals against Puerto Rico.

 vs.


Alazanes de Granma bounced back after Saturday's loss against Venezuela to defeat Mexico on Sunday.  Having lost the tie breaker, Cuba will be visitor in Monday's semi-final against Venezuela.

Los Aguilas de Zulia's lone loss came against Mexico.  And as noted, handed Cuba their only defeat.

The semi-final round of this year's Serie del Caribe commences Monday.


Sunday, February 05, 2017

NYM: Grande Dame of the Metropolitans



Here's my latest for 


PIGSKIN 2016: SUPER BOWL LI



PIGSKIN

FOOTBALL SUNDAY

ICYMI:

SUPER BOWL LI

A.F.C. CHAMPION
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
vs.
N.F.C. CHAMPION
ATLANTA FALCONS


In a game featuring future Hall of Famer Tom Brady versus this year's league MVP Matt Ryan, I expect both quarterbacks to play well and engineer scoring drives.  That said, I see this match-up boiling down to which defense makes more key plays ... and not necessarily which offense gets more possessions.

Is Atlanta's young defense gelling at the right time?  Are they up for the task?

Maybe ... but that remains to be seen.

I'm sure, however, Tom Brady will put their young defense (featuring more than just a few rookies and second year players at several key positions) to the ultimate test.

The Falcons are middle of the pack (16th) in sacks.  However, linebacker Vic Beasley led the league with 15.5 sacks.  That's the good news.  Here's the bad: If the Falcons can't get to Brady utilizing only their front four, they're in big trouble.  The rest of their defense makes me want to say, hmmm.  During the regular season, Atlanta allowed the 8th most yards per game, the 6th most total points, and 6th most points per game.  They were also the 9th most penalized defense in the NFL.  Which, against Tom Brady, any little mistake may prove costly.  In the playoffs, they've so far limited Seattle to 20 points, and Green Bay to 21 points.  That's a number Matty Ice can work with.  But if the Falcons defense reverts back to (early) regular season form, or reveal their inexperience, look out.  Last week the Patriots put up 36 points against a better, more experienced Pittsburgh Steelers defense.

Matt Ryan is facing bend-don't-break.  Bill Belichick insists his secondary keep their man in front of them, insists on making sure tackles, and denying Atlanta yards after catch.  Then once in the red-zone the Pats tighten things up another notch.

Simon Bar Sinister won't blitz much, if at all, so it's up to Matt Ryan to execute.  Easier said than done.  Expect Belichick attempting to negate Julio Jones.  Sinister's second priority will be stopping the run.  And there's the rub.  Atlanta center Alex Mack is compromised with a fractured fibula.  How that affects Devonta Freeman's ability to find daylight also remains to be seen.  But in my opinion, this is huge!  No center; No running game.  I believe this development will negatively impact Atlanta.
I still respect Atlanta's offense, though.  They led the league in scoring for a reason.  They have depth.
That being said, I believe if Matt Ryan is going to beat New England's defense, he'll need to find Austin Hooper and Mohammed Sanu in order to get it done.

Here's the bottom line ... if New England keeps Atlanta under 25 points, Patriots win.  Atlanta scored 36 points against a good Seattle defense..?  Then went on to put up another 44 points against a woefully depleted Green Bay unit.

In other words, there's a reason the spread is only three points.

I am still a Bill Belichick minion, loyal to him since his years as defensive coordinator of the Giants.   In Super Bowl competition, I've seen this man limit John Elway and the Denver Broncos to 20 points, Jim Kelly and the juggernaut Buffalo Bills to 19 points, and Kurt Warner and the greatest show on turf St. Louis Rams to 17 points.  Through eight SB appearance with the Giants/Patriots, Belichick defenses have limited the opposition to an average of 21 points per games.  Carolina managed 29 points during a losing effort in SB XXXVIII.  That was one of the more wackiest games in SB recollection.  Jack Delhomme of all people threw for 323 yards (16/33) and three touchdowns.  Take that game away, and Belichick's average-against drops to 19 points per game.  In other words, this man has devised defensive schemes for all comers ... Russell Wilson, Elway, Warner, Kelly, Eli Manning, Donovan McNabb ... you name it.

These are two good teams.  The Patriots are just that ... the Patriots.  But the Falcons are legit.  Both teams feature competent, productive offensive units.  Both can run with power and play methodically, or implement a controlled passing attack and/or strike quickly.  Pick your poison ...

I boil this game down to one basic element: New England's defense is better than that of the Atlanta Falcons.  Atlanta's youth can mean speed to the ball, but it can also mean mistakes, or just lack of experience.  There's a lot of tricks up both Bill Belichick's and Tom Brady's sleeve.  Maybe, one too many.

Or, just enough to cover three points.  I'm 6-0 straight up through the divisional and championship games, and 5-1 vs. the spread.  What the hell, right?

PATRIOTS -3 (FALCONS)
WIN!!!

FINAL
PATRIOTS  34
FALCONS   28

Super Bowl I

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Preview: Serie del Caribe 2017

From the desk of: Winter League Baseball



SERIE del CARIBE
2017
CULIACAN, MEXICO


THE FIELD of FIVE

LIGA de BEISBOL PROFESIONAL DOMINICANA

The Dominican Republic leads all winter baseball circuits with 19 Serie del Caribe championships.


Founded in 1907, Licey is a titan of international competition.  They lead all Dominican professional baseball clubs with 24 league titles.  Their 10 Serie del Caribe titles are the most by any Winter League organization, their last coming in 2008.  Licey has also run the table on three occasions, going undefeated in 1971, 1977, 1991 ... another Serie del Caribe record.


LIGA MEXICANA del PACIFICO

Mexico is the defending Caribbean champion (Venados de Mazatlan).  The LMP has emerged into a winter league power in recent years, winning four of the last six Serie del Caribe titles, and nine overall.

  • Culiacan, Mexico, home of los Tomateros de Culiacan, will serve as this year's host.  All games will be played in new Tomateros Stadium opened in 2015.  Click link for virtual view.

Founded in 1976, the Eagles of Mexicali have won four LMP titles, and earned their only Series del Caribe title in 1986.


LIGA de BEISBOL PROFESIONAL ROBERTO CLEMENTE

Puerto Rico is second behind the Dominican Republic with 14 Serie del Caribe titles.   They have gone 16 years (2000), however, since capturing their last.


Founded in 1938, los Criollos de Caguas have won 17 league pennants, and three Serie del Caribe titles (1954, 1974, 1987), ranking them fifth among winter league clubs.


LIGA VENEZOLANA de BEISBOL PROFESIONAL

Next year's scheduled host, Venezuela has won seven Serie del Caribe titles, their last coming in 2009.


Founded in 1969, the Eagles of Zulia have won six LVBP titles, and earned a pair of Serie del Caribe victories in 1984 and 1989.


SERIE NACIONAL de CUBA

The original Confederation of Caribbean Baseball was comprised of Cuba, Panama, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico.  Cuba won the inaugural Serie del Caribe of 1949, then a second in 1952.  Between 1956 through 1960, Cuba reeled off another five straight Caribbean titles.  After more than a half-century of non-participation, Cuba won the 2015 Serie del Caribe.


Founded in 1977, this season marked los Alazanes de Granma first ever Serie Nacional title.  Granma is the former team of NYM outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

*         *         *

As part of the revolution in Cuba, Fidel Castro disbanded the county's professional baseball circuits. At the same time, Panama's professional league ceased operations as well.  As a result, the Serie del Caribe was suspended between the years 1961 through 1969.

Since 1961, all Cuban players remain amateurs within their nationalized baseball structure.

The years prior to 1961 are referred to as Stage One Serie del Caribe.

The four team Caribbean tournament resumed when the Dominican Republic joined the confederation in 1970 along with returning Venezuela and Puerto Rico, and when Mexico joined in 1971.

The era since 1970 through the present time is referred to as Stage Two.

Generally speaking, the United States trade embargo against Cuba has long prevented direct competition between nations, and impacted all winter league rosters where it concerned American players under contract with MLB.

Aside from perhaps the Pan-American Games and Olympics, the process of reintegrating Cuba into the greater baseball community of the Americas began in earnest with the 2006 World Baseball Classic.  After which, having Cuba rejoin Caribbean competition seemed just a matter of time.  In 2014 Cuba participated in their first Serie del Caribe since 1960, and a short year later captured their first Serie del Caribe title in 55 years, the country's eighth overall.

Despite the loosening of several restrictions, and suggestions of further attempts at normalizing relations, the embargo against Cuba still remains largely in place.

Now making their fourth straight reappearance in the Serie del Caribe, Cuba continues participating on an invitation basis extended by the four member confederation.

Despite the loosening of several restrictions, and suggestions of further attempts at normalizing relations, the embargo against Cuba still remains largely in place.