Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dominican Baseball Card #20: Juan Bell

Dominican Baseball Card #20 is a 1990 Topps #724 of Juan Bell.  One of those super boring early nineties baseball cards.  See all the Dominican Baseball Cards.
Perhaps Juan's greatest claim to fame is that he is George Bell's brother.  Juan had a fairly uneventful career.  He spent five seasons in the big leagues, and parts of 12 seasons in the minor leagues.  Juan had a career .212 batting average in the majors.  The Brewers some how payed him $1.82 million as a free agent in 1993 even though he had a career big league average under .200 in two previous seasons and around 300 at bats.  He spent his final season in the AAA Mexican league in 2000.

The Dominican Baseball Guy could not find anything on Juan Bell since he retired in 2000.  He is probably hanging with George somewhere in the Dominican Republic, but leave a comment if you remember Juan or you have any information on him today.  He is from San Pedro de Macoris.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Caribbean Series Uniforms for Toros de la Romana Presented

Orange Dominicana (a major cell phone and communications company in the Dominican Republic), along with representatives of Comercializadora Deportiva Dominicana (a sporting goods company) and officials from the Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM), presented the official uniforms of the Toros de la Romana for the Caribbean Series.

The uniforms incorporate the colors of the Dominican Republic, along with a Toros hat and the Toros main sponsor (Orange Dominicana) displayed prominently.  The Caribbean Series starts Wednesday, February 2.
The Toros Jerseys for the Caribbean Series 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

LIDOM Champion Toros de la Romana Have Victory Parade

The Toros de la Romana and their fans continues to celebrate their Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM) championship on Wednesday with a parade through the city of La Romana.  The parade was in celebration of the championship that the Toros won last week.

The parade ended in the Francisco Micheli Stadium, where the Toros completed their sweep of the Estrellas on Sunday.  The stadium scene featured thanks from the team, as well as music and other entertainment.  Along with the team and team president Frank Micheli, the local provincial governor and the national senator for the region also attended the parade.  This is in addition to thousands of loyal Toros fans.

Fans and supporters joined the parade and followed the team to the stadium.  The Toros are awaiting the start of the Caribbean Series on February 2.  Here are some pictures of the event from various sources:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Toros Visit President Leonel Fernandez

As is tradition in the United States, the President of the Dominican Republic usually hosts the Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM) champion.  This was the case this year, as President Leonel Fernandez hosted the Toros de la Romana on Tuesday.

First, President Fernandez congratulated the Toros through the media on Monday.  Then, on Tuesday he welcomed the Toros the Hall of Ambassadors at the Dominican capital in Santo Domingo.  Fernandez was joined by Sports Minister Felipe Payano and MLB Executive in the Dominican Republic Leonardo Matos Berrido.
President Fernandez receives the jersey of the Toros de la Romana
President Fernandez congratulated the Toros and wished them luck in the Caribbean Series.  He received the jersey of the Toros, and also made sure to tell them that the hopes of all Dominicans are on their shoulders and he expects them to win the Caribbean Series.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kevin Barker: Two Dominican Championships in Two Years

Kevin Barker has been a very successful player in the Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM) the last two seasons.  He is an anomaly that American fans would not expect to see in winter league action.
Kevin Barker (center-left) celebrates a second LIDOM championship
Barker is a 35 year old first basemen that has seen the major leagues in parts of five seasons, most recently with the Reds in 2009.  Add to that, he has played 12 years at the AAA level.  Yet he still chooses to go and play in Dominican Winter League action.  In fact, Barker says (according to lidom.com), "I played in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuela, Japan, United States, but the passion as you enjoy baseball in the Dominican Republic is unparalleled."

That quote shows a little as to why veterans would choose to play in the LIDOM.  Barker began his professional career in 1996 after being drafted out of Viginia Tech.  He made the big leagues for the first time in 1999 and has basically played at the AAA level ever since, other than short stints with major league clubs.  Last year, he played in the AAA Mexican League, which is an official MLB league, but the teams are not farm teams of big league clubs.

Barker just signed a minor league deal with the Nationals a few weeks ago, so hopefully we will see him in the big leagues again soon.  In the mean time, he has the Caribbean Series next week to worry about.

Monday, January 24, 2011

La Romana Celebrates LIDOM Championship

The Toros de la Romana won their first domestic crown since 1994-95.  There were some big celebrations the night of the game, as the Toros won in their home stadium.

The city of la Romana has been celebrating for two days (see article).  The party will continue as there is a victory parade scheduled for Wednesday the 26th.  The Toros will begin practice later this week, in preparation for the Caribbean Series on February 2nd.
Toros fans Celebrate

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Toros de la Romana Sweep Estrellas, Win LIDOM Championship

The Toros de la Romana defeated the Estrellas from San Pedro de Macoris to win the Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM) championship for the 2010-11 season.  This is the Toros first championship since 1994-95.

The Toros won the 5th game of the 9 game series with an explosion of four runs in the seventh inning.  Martin Maldanado (Brewers), Esteban German (Rangers), Ricardo Nanita, and Eduardo Nunez (Yankees) each had RBI for the Toros in this frame.  The victory went to reliever Jairo Asencio (Braves) and Julio Manon got the save.

For the Estrellas, Eugelio de la Cruz got the loss, even though he gave up no earned runs in six innings.  Andres Rodriguez and Argenis Reyes had RBI in a losing cause for the Estrellas.

The Toros won the title on their home field, and the atmosphere was second to none.  The crowd was standing for most of the contest and it was extremely loud throughout.  The great home fans even rushed the field at the end of the contest, something the Dominican Baseball Guy has never seen at a baseball game.  See the official video from ligadom.com or some youtube clips like this one:


The Toros go on to the Caribbean Series to face the champions of the winter leagues in Mexico, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico.  It takes place from February 2-7 in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
Congratulations La Romana and Toros

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Toros de la Romana Win 11-2 Over Estrellas, Take 4-0 Lead in LIDOM Finals

Marlins prospect Adalberto Mendez pitched 5.2 innings, allowing one run, and the Toros de la Romana had 14 hits in scoring 11 runs.  The Toros scored three runs in the first and never trailed.  Eduardo Nunez (Yankees) had a double and three RBI and Jose Constanza (Braves) had three hits for the Toros.  American Brock Peterson (Twins) also had a three run homer for the Toros.
Adalberto Mendez pitches for the Marlins
Former big leaguer Dan Reichert had an ineffective outing for the Estrellas of San Pedro de Macoris, getting pulled in the first inning after giving up three runs.  The lone highlight for the Estrellas came on Buck Coat's solo homerun in the 6th inning.

The Toros lead the series 4-0 and are one game away from a sweep of the Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM) final series.  They have not won the domestic crown since 1994-95 when they were led by Art Howe.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Toros de La Romana win 2-1, Gain 3-0 Lead in LIDOM Final Series

Fernando Abad (Astros) pitched 6 innings of no-hit ball and the Toros pitched a combined 1 hitter to take a three games to none lead over the Estrellas in the Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM) finals.  The Toros won 2-1.
Fernando Abad pitches for the Toros
Julio Manon got the save, although he did give up one hit and one run in the ninth, after the Toros shutout the Estrellas through 8 innings.  The Toros first run came on a Ricardo Nanita single in the 3rd inning and American journeyman Kevin Barker added the second run on an RBI single in the 7th.
For the Estrellas, Cuban Alberto Castillo pitched 6 innings and allowed only one run, but that got him the loss.  Michael Martinez (Nationals) had the lone RBI for the Estrellas, when he doubled off Manon in the 9th inning.

Game 4 is Saturday at the Tetelo Vargas Stadium in San Pedro de Macoris.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Toros de La Romana Win Game 2 Over Estrellas, Lead Final Series 2-0

The Toros beat the Estrellas at the Estrellas' home Tetelo Vargas stadium in San Pedro de Macoris.  The final score was Toros 3 and Estrellas 1.  Ricardo Nanita had a 2 RBI single in the 8th inning to put the Toros up for good.  Carlos Perez got the win in relief and Julio Manon took the save for the Toros.
Ricardo Nanita had a 30 game hit streak in the Pioneer Rookie League, he is from Santo Domingo
The Toros scored the first run in the second inning on a Danny Richar sacrifice fly.  The Estrellas then equalized in the seventh on an Edwin Bellorin RBI.  The Estrellas had other chances in the fifth and seventh innings that were squandered by base running blunders.

Game three is Friday in La Romana.  The Toros are threatening to run away with the 9 game series, and a victory would be there first Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM) championship since 1996.  The Estrellas have not won the domestic crown since 1968.

Dominican Baseball Card #19: Carmen Castillo

The #19 Dominican Baseball Card is Carmen Castillo.  Carmen is one of the lesser known Dominican players that the Dominican Baseball Guy has profiled in his Dominican Baseball Card updates.  The card is a 1989 Topps.
The Dominican Baseball Guy could hardly find any information on Carmen.  It is a shame because he had a very long career.  Carmen debuted for the Indians in 1982 and spent seven seasons with the team.  He then went on to play for the Twins for 3 seasons.  So, he had a ten year big league career which is pretty impressive.  It seems he was used as a utility outfielder, and played as needed.  His career high in games was 94 and he had a career .252 average, which is...well average.  And he is another of a long line of players from San Pedro de Macoris, DR.

If anyone knows Carmen or anything more about his career or post-playing days please leave a comment.  Otherwise enjoy game 2 of the Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM) finals tonight.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Toros de La Romana Take Lead in Sugar Series, Lead LIDOM Finals 1-0

Toros de La Romana took a 1-0 lead  in the first game of the 9 game final series, beating over the Estrellas de San Pedro de Macoris 5-3.  The Dominican press is calling this year's finals the Sugar Series (see the Dominican Baseball Guy's last post).  The game took place in la Romana at the Stadium Francisco Micheli.

Raul Valdes (Cardinals) continued a strong winter campaign and pitched a complete game for the Toros.  See an article about Valdes and his future with the Cardinals here.  Puerto Rican Martin Maldonado had a good game behind the plate catching for Valdes and also had an RBI at the plate.  Jose Constanza (Braves) also had two RBI for the Toros and Danny Richar (Marlins) was 3-4 with two runs.  Constanza hit .319 with the Braves AAA team and made the International League All-Star team, and Richar has been very successful with the Marlins AAA team, so the Dominican Baseball Guy expects to see both in the big leagues soon.
Valdes pitches a complete game
For the Estrellas, former big leaguer and minor league veteran Buck Coats scored a run on an Edward Rogers single, and Edwin Bellorin had two RBI.  Coats was later ejected in the third inning, in an interesting scene that saw Coats (a ten year veteran of the minor leagues) arguing with a fellow American umpire in a Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM) playoff game.  LIDOM has both American and Dominican umpires work most games, because it is thought the American umpires do not have ulterior motives in regards to favoring certain teams.
Coats exits as his manager continues the argument with the home plate umpire

The incident goes to show that these games are very important for everyone involved.  For many of these players these are the biggest games and the most intense atmosphere they have had the chance to play in, and this is true for veteran Americans like Coats and Kevin Barker of the Toros.

Game two is tomorrow night in San Pedro de Macoris.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dominican Winter Baseball League Final Series Preview 2011

The Estrellas beat the Gigantes last night in the one game playoff to determine second place in the 18 game round robin playoff in the Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM).  The final score was 3-0 and the game was never really close.  The Estrellas pitching dominated and Eulogio de la Cruz (former major leaguer who just signed with the Brewers) got the win.  Eugenio Velez (Dodgers) and  Argenis Reyes (Indians) led the offensive charge for the Estrellas.  See the game recap and some cool photos here.  There was a great atmosphere, with most of the crowd on their feet the whole game.
Estrellas and Fans Celebrate
The Estrellas go on to face the Toros in a 9 game final series.  The Toros had already advanced to the finals after dominating the round robin in finishing 1st.  This sets up what the Dominican press is calling a "Sugar Series."  See the preview from the only English daily in the country, Dominican Today.  Both clubs hail from the southeast coast of the country, the region that is the center of sugarcane production.

Sugarcane has long been the agricultural base of the country, and it is said that the sugarcane plantations are where baseball first became popular on the island.  Workers on the plantations supposedly played baseball after working the fields, and the game then diffused to the rest of the population.

So, this series has special significance for Dominican fans, particularly for those from San Pedro de Macoris and La Romana, the home of the Estrellas and Toros respectively.  Not to mention the town with the most baseball talent in the world (San Pedro de Macoris) is hosting a finals series.  The first game is tomorrow, Wednesday the 19th.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dominican Winter Baseball League Round Robin Results 2011

The Round Robin portion of the Dominican Winter Baseball League ended yesterday, and there was a tie for second.  After the 4 team, 18 game round robin in which the top four teams in the LIDOM play each other 6 times, the Toros came out on top with a record of 12-6, so they are on to the finals.  The Toros and their fans are preparing to host the championship series.

The Gigantes and the Estrellas ended up tied for second, both with a record of 9-9.  It was a very exciting race, as both teams won on the final day of the round robin to set up a one game sudden death playoff, which takes place tonight in San Pedro de Macoris.  The Gigantes feature Alexi Casilla (who just signed a new deal with the Twins), Wilson Betemit (Royals), and Wilson Valdez (Phillies, who is on fire and hit .400 in the round robin).  The Estrellas feature pitcher Radhames Liz (former Oriole) and Nationals farmhand Alex Valdez.  These are of course among many other players with MLB experience and minor leaguers.

The winner of the Gigantes versus Estrellas will take on the Toros in a 9 game final series.  The winner of the LIDOM championship will go on to face the champion of the winter leagues in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela in the Caribbean Series.  The Caribbean Series takes place in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico this year, from February 2-7, 2011.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Edward Rogers and Rual Valdes Players of the Week

For the second week of the round robin playoffs in the Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM) Edward Rogers and Rual Valdes were the players of the week, according to the official award given by the Sports Writers Association of Santo Domingo.  This was for the period from January 3-10, 2011, and here is the press release from LIDOM.

Edward Rogers won the player of the week, after hitting .400 last week for the Estrellas from San Pedro de Macoris.  Rogers played 30 games with the Orioles between 2002 and 2006, but has been on the AAA level the last 4 years, most recently with the Diamondbacks AAA affiliate last year.  He is from San Pedro de Macoris, and is playing for his hometown team.  The San Pedro de Macoris players never end.  Just click the label below and you will see a bunch of players from this city of 300,000 people.
Ed Rogers
Raul Valdes is a relief pitcher with the New York Mets.  Valdes was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 11 innings last week in the LIDOM.  He debuted last year in the major leagues, pitching in 38 games for the Mets.  He was named to the Caribbean Series all-star team last year, as he pitched for the champion Dominican team, Escogido.  A defector from Cuba, Raul began his career in the states in 2005.  He is from Havana, Cuba.
Raul Valdes

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dominican Baseball Cards #16, #17, #18: Sammy Sosa

This installment of Dominican Baseball Cards features one of the most famous Dominican baseball players: Sammy Sosa.  And since the Dominican Baseball Guy missed the last two baseball card updates, the Dominican Baseball Guy has three cards today.  There is a Score 1990 #558, a Score 1992 #258, and an Upper Deck 1990 #17.  All three come from Sammy as a Chicago White Sock.  A lot of people probably forget he started his career with the Rangers and then got traded to the White Sox for Harold Baines and others before he made his way to the Cubs.
Dominican Sammy Sosa featured in three baseball cards
Sosa became one of the most famous Dominican ballplayers after his race to break Roger Maris's single season home run record with Mark McGwire in 1998.  Sammy lost out that year and ended the year in second place with 66 home runs, which is still the 3rd best mark for home runs in a season ever.  He also won the NL MVP that year and the Roberto Clemente award.  He has 3 of the top 6 home runs in a season marks, and is 7th on the all time list with 609.  Sosa also had 6 Silver Slugger awards and made 7 all-star games.  Quite a career for a guy that started out as a speedy, good fielding outfielder.

His later career was marred by the corked bat incident, and like many from his generation steroid allegations. He was one of the 104 leaked names from a supposedly private MLB test in 2003.  Whatever the allegations, this guys numbers are certainly Hall of Fame worthy.  We will have to wait and see if he gets in.  The baseball writers that vote on the Hall know more about the ethics of the game than does the Dominican Baseball Guy, so I will trust their judgement in this case.

In recent months Sosa has been in the news, since being accused of whitening his skin, a la Michael Jackson.  The photos are unmistakable, when compared to his early years in MLB.  Sosa was a very popular player in the Dominican Republic during his playing days, as our most successful Dominican MLBers.  The recent whitening scandal, and the perceived idea that he doesn't come to the Dominican Republic much anymore, have made him somewhat of a villain in his home country today.  In any case, he was a great player in his day, and he hails from the center of the best baseball in the world, San Pedro de Macoris.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Danny Richar and Miguel de los Santos Players of Week

The Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM) has named Players of the Week for the playoffs.  In years past they only gave this award during the regular season, so the Dominican Baseball Guy was unaware they were giving out the awards the last couple weeks.

For the first week of the round robin playoffs Danny Richar and Miguel de los Santos won the award.  This was for the period December 27, 2010-January 2, 2011, and here is the press release.

Danny Richar is currently in the Florida Marlins organization and played all of last year with their AAA affiliate New Orleans Zephers, where he hit .315.  Richar has played a handful of games in the big leagues with the White Sox and Reds from 2007-2009.  Richar batted .563 last week to win the award.  He was born in 1983 in La Romana, DR, and has been playing in the states since 2005.  He plays for his hometown Toros de La Romana.
Danny Richar
Miguel de los Santos is in the Rangers organization.  The Rangers are the favorite team of the Dominican Baseball Guy and it is quite a coincidence that they are one the most successful teams in scouting and signing Dominican players in recent years.  They of course have established big leaguers like Nelson Cruz and Julio Borbon, and they recently signed Adrian Beltre.  They also have some great young players.  Alexi Ogando and Omar Beltre were both big stories last season, as was rookie of the year closer Neftali Feliz (all Dominicans).

So, hopefully Miguel de los Santos is the next in line of great young Dominican pitchers for the Rangers.  He has absolute gas and has had almost 2 strikeouts/inning in rookie leagues and A ball over the last 4 years, along with a pretty good ERA.  ESPN Dallas has a nice write up on him here, and LoneStarDugout.com has a short article on his LIDOM success this season here.  He pitched 5 shutout innings in the LIDOM last week to win the award.  Miguel is from La Romana as well, and hopefully we see him in the MLB soon.  He also plays for his hometown La Romana Toros.  It must be a great time for both these players to play in front of their friends and family in their hometown.
Miguel de los Santos

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dominican Pitcher Alfredo Simon Suspect in Shooting Death

The recent news that Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon is the main suspect in the shooting death of a man in his native Dominican Republic hearkens to the situation of Angel Villalona a year ago.  While both were involved in a shooting death, on further inspection the situations are quite different.

Villalona is accused of shooting a man in a night club after a disagreement.  The Dominican Baseball Guy added a couple updates on the Villalona situation which you can see here.  There are plenty of links to all the relevant stories from a year ago within these two blog posts.  Villalona is still awaiting trial, but according to this article, he is back playing baseball again, so may be able to make it back to the states some day.  Villalona is from La Romana, DR.

The case of Simon seems to be different.  While Villalona was a minor league player yet to reach the big leagues, Simon debuted 3 years ago for the Orioles and played in 49 games last year.  The other difference is that the shooting Simon was involved in seems to be accidental.  According to the latest AP story, Simon is being charged with involuntary manslaughter, as he either fired a gun in the air to celebrate New Year's Eve or had a gun go off accidentally while breaking up a fight between two women.  Simon's lawyer is saying he merely shot his gun in the air to celebrate the new year.  The saddest part is that the dead man was his cousin.  Alfredo is from Santiago, DR.
This brings up the inevitable "why is a multi-million dollar athlete carrying a pistol?"  Well in the states the Dominican Baseball Guy agrees, but the fact is the Dominican Republic is a very rough place and lots of people carry weapons.  Security in the country is sparse, especially in smaller cities, and Dominicans grow up in an atmosphere where fighting and weapons are widespread.  So, it is hard for professional baseball players to forget their upbringing in that environment.

The Dominican Baseball Guy thinks the best thing for these guys is to just stay away from the country, if they feel they will be tempted to visit their old stomping grounds.  But that would mean never seeing their family and friends again in many cases.  So, as you can see it is a vicious cycle.  Simon is just 29 and has a promising career ahead of him, so if it was an accident, hopefully he can make an arrangement with the family and  get back to the big leagues at some point.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Dominican Baseball Cheerleaders, Bailarinas Dominicanas de Aguilas

Happy New Year from the Dominican Baseball Guy, and being that it is the 1st of the month, the Dominican Baseball Guy is adding his monthly update with Dominican Baseball Cheerleaders.  Thus far the Dominican Baseball Guy has featured cheerleaders from Escogido and Licey, so for this month the Dominican Baseball Guy has a picture of cheerleaders from the Aguilas de Santiago.
As you can see in the photo, this one comes from http://www.mendyenfigureo.com/.  He has lots of great pictures of Dominican Baseball Cheerleaders, so check out his site if you want to see more.  But for now, just enjoy the Dominican Baseball Guy's most recent post on Dominican Baseball Cheerleaders.
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