We’re in the midst of an intriguing sporting event this weekend – and no, I don’t mean that overbloated excuse for a football game being played on Sunday in Indianapolis.
I’m referring to the Caribbean Series, the baseball tourney involving the champions of the winter leagues in Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
THEY BEGAN PLAYING Thursday and will run through Tuesday – with the winner of the six-game tourney getting the bragging rights of beisbol champions of Latin America.
Yet one of the things that intrigues me about the Latin American leagues in general, and this tourney in particular, is the way in which professional baseball people in this country use the leagues as a chance to bolster their on-field experience.
Which means that we even have Chicago-affiliated ballplayers taking part in the tourney – hoping that maybe a particularly outstanding week this week could bolster their chances of making a higher-level minor league ballclub.
If not the major league team itself.
FOR THE RECORD, two ballplayers with Chicago Cubs ties (pitcher Oswaldo Martinez and infielder Alfredo Amezaga) are playing for the Obregon Yaquis – champions of Mexico’s Pacific League for this season.
Meanwhile, catcher Hector Gimenez of the Venezuela ballclub and Ryan Kuusmaal, a pitcher for the Puerto Rico representative, are the members of the Chicago White Sox organization who are playing baseball this week – just a few weeks before they report to Glendale, Ariz., to start the workouts that will determine where they will play baseball this coming summer.
Admittedly, none of these guys is likely to be the star of their respective team this week – unless they pull off an unexpected star play that makes them a hero-for-life in their respective Latin American nation (where this tourney is taken seriously – perhaps moreso than many people here these days take the World Series itself).
Then again, there is the manager of the Aragua Tigers who are representing Venezuela. Buddy Bailey may be a Pennsylvania native whose U.S. baseball career has been in the minor leagues (1,500-plus career victories as a manager).
BUT HE ALSO has included his stints in the winter managing in Venezuela – and he will be the guy trying to win a championship for the fans who will enjoy it as a diversion from the impact of Hugo Chavez on their daily lives.
And when it is over after next week, he will return to prepare for a 2012 season managing the Tennessee Smokies (the Knoxville-based ballclub that provides a AA Southern League affiliate for the Chicago Cubs).
I can only hope for his sake that his Chicago Cubs ties do not overcome his minor league winning ways. Because Chavez strikes me as being goofy enough to behave like one-time Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo used to many decades ago – incarcerating ballplayers who failed on the playing field.
Then again, a part of me wonders if such a tactic would be appropriate on the Chicago playing fields – because there have been times throughout the seasons when I have seen miscues where someone deserves to be locked away for taunting us with their ineptitude.
SO THIS COMING weekend, I’ll be the guy using my laptop computer to see the baseball activity being played in the Dominican Republic (which is hosting the tourney this year).
It just strikes me as being more interesting than anything that could possibly happen on that football gridiron some 185 miles southeast of Chicago.
You know, the so-called sports spectacular where most people will be paying more attention to the television commercials than they will be on the game itself!