Thursday, May 31, 2012

San Francisco de Macoris gets new sports complex

The Dominican Republic opened the Mario Ortega multipurpose pavilion and sports complex on Tuesday in San Francisco de Macoris. Dominican President Leonel Fernandez was on hand to dedicate the new multi-purpose facility that will be used to develop Dominican basketball and volleyball athletes in the Duarte province.

This is of course of interest to the Dominican Baseball Guy because I lived in San Francisco de Macoris for four months in 2009, as I was following the Gigantes del Cibao Dominican Winter Baseball League team that plays in the city. Now I have no idea who the new facility's namesake Mario Ortega is, but I do know who Stan Javier is.

Former Dominican MLB player Stan Javier delivered a plaque of recognition on behalf of Duarte’s inhabitants. The Gigantes stadium is the Julian Javier Stadium, and Stan Javier is the son of the Julian Javier. Both were successful MLB players from San Francisco de Macoris and both are still hugely popular in the city.

San Francisco de Macoris has not had the same success sending players to the big leagues as other Dominican cities, so the Javier family is held up as representing baseball and sport for the city often.

The new facility is located within the sports complex area in San Francisco de Macoris. That is where the Julian Javier stadium is located, and there are also softball and baseball fields, a track, a soccer field, weight rooms, and a gymnastics training facility. Most are open to the public and/or used to train local athletes. The new facility will presumably be used as part of national team training of basketball and volleyball athletes.
Live action from the Julian Javier stadium in San Frnacisco de Macoris
Julian Javier Stadium, by Dominican Baseball Guy

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dominican Juan Carlos Oviedo suspended for age fraud

Dominican Juan Carlos Oviedo aka Leo Nunez was recently suspended for age and identity fraud. Age fraud has been an issue with signing Dominican baseball prospects ever since teams first started signing Dominican prospects to big money deals. Dominican prospects have tried to misrepresent their ages because teams were more likely to sign a younger player that had time to develop. If they turned out to be older than they said, then it was just the teams left holding their *!?@ in their hands, and the players left to face legal backlash.

But recently the MLB implemented an age limit on signing international free agents. Dominican prospects must now be 17 years old before they are signed by a big league club. At the same time they introduced new measures to ensure a player's age. So, now the legal repercussions are greater. Basically, MLB is making it virtually impossible for Dominican prospects to commit age fraud. There are tests of birth certificates and other documents, but now also interviews with the person who assisted in the birth of the prospect or blood tests that verify a player's age.

Now the Oviedo/Nunez case comes about because signed with a team before the additional measures were made to ensure a prospects age. In 2008 MLB offered amnesty to any player that admitted to age fraud, and Leo Nunez did not come forward.

Nunez is perhaps the most high profile player to be busted for age AND identity fraud. He was the Marlins everyday closer for three years. Miguel Tejada was caught for age fraud, but he never misrepresented his identity. With all the homeland security issues in the United States, the identity fraud has added to Oviedo's plight. He was facing charges in both the Dominican Republic and the United States.

He seems to have been cleared of those charges, but MLB is slapping him with an eight-week ban. Expect to see him back with the Marlins some time in mid-July.

With the new precautions being enforced by MLB, the teams, and the Dominican government also on-board to help out, the Dominican Baseball Guy expects to see little-to-none of this going forward.
Dominican pitcher Leo Nunez in trouble for age fraud pitches for the Marlins
Dominican Leo Nunez aka Juan Carlos Oviedo suspended for age and identity fraud,
photo by bkrieger02 on Flickr

Monday, May 28, 2012

Dominican pitcher weighs 334 pounds

Minor league pitcher Jose Diaz could be a lineman in the National Football League. That is if he had grown up in the United States. But as is the case, Diaz is a native of the Dominican Republic, so he was naturally led to baseball.

Diaz is listed at 6'4'' and 300 pounds. But Diaz admitted to the Indianapolis Star that he actually weighs 334 pounds. He throws in the high 90s and says that his size is an advantage as a power pitcher.

"I weigh 334 pounds," Diaz told the Star. "When I went from Double-A to Triple-A, they told me to lose 25-30 pounds, and my fastball went from 98 mph to 93 mph. So I said, 'It's time to put the weight back on."

The Dominican pitcher Diaz has been up and down over six years in the minors, possibly due to the weight loss. Now that he has his weight where he wants it to be, he looks like he could push for some big league time with the Indians

He should start the year with the Indians AAA affiliate in Indianapolis. Diaz is from La Romana, Dominican Republic.
Jose Diaz is a Dominican pitcher in the Cleveland Indians system
Dominican pitcher Jose Diaz

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dominican prospect Alberto among log jam of short stops in Texas Rangers system

Dominican prospect Hanser Alberto is one of many young short stops in the Rangers system.  Elvis Andrus is the starter on the big league squad and uber-prospect Jurickson Profar is one level ahead of him in the minors.  He also has competition from his own teammate at class Hickory, Luis Sardinas.

With that said, Hickory Crawdads hitting coach Josue Perez says Alberto is "right there with them."  Perez continues:
When he came over here, it was a little bit of a different animal.  He didn’t know what to do on some pitches.  In the Dominican at their age, they don’t see that good two-seamer (fastball) and that good changeup at different counts. He was dealing with that last year.
Thus far this season, Alberto is in the top 10 hitters in the South Atlantic League.  Additionally he is playing several positions other than short stop, since their are so many short stops prospects in the Rangers system.

Alberto is from San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican Republic.  He signed with the Rangers in 2009, the same year the Dominican Baseball Guy was following the Gigantes de San Francisco de Macoris in the Dominican Winter League.  I was based out of San Francisco de Macoris for the entire season, and I remember seeing this signing in the local newspaper.

He is one of the few players that the Dominican Baseball Guy has ever mentioned as being from this city.  The baseball infrastructure is much more developed along the southern coast of the Dominican Republic, so most players come from there.  However, there are many players from northern cities and from Santiago and other larger cities in the Dominican Republic.  So it is interesting to note the dearth of players from San Francisco de Macoris, considering it is one of the five biggest cities in the country.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dominican baseball player Vlad Guerrero getting in baseball shape quickly

Dominican baseball player Vladimir Guerrero could be in the majors soon.  The 16 year big leaguer is working out at the Blue Jays Spring Training facility in Florida, and the team says he is making great strides.  Guerrero recently signed with the Blue Jays, and was expected to spend several weeks to months getting into shape.

But the Blue Jays just sent their DH Adam Lind to the minors, so Guerrero could be coming to the big league club sooner than initially thought.  He is still expected to make his way through the Blue Jays minor league system, before appearing with the big league club.

Guerrero says that he is happy to be back where he started his career in Canada, and that the atmosphere north of the border reminds him of the Dominican Republic:
"The people in Montreal, the fans, were very different. I felt like I could walk down the street like I was in the Dominican. Nobody would attack me or anything like that. They'd say hi and I felt very, very comfortable on the streets. Then again, when I got to the ballpark, then they became fans -- that's what I really liked about it."
Vladimir Guerrero is from Nizao, Dominican Republic.
Dominican baseball player Vladimir with the Orioles last season.  Photo courtesy of Keith Allison on Flickr

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dominican rum: Brugal is your top choice

The Dominican Republic is known for a few things that the country does really well.  Currently the list probably starts with baseball and then cigars, or cigars and then baseball.  Tourism has become one of the top three industries in the country, so the beaches and golf course are also identifying characteristics of the country.

And along with these four things, add rum, and particularly Brugal rum, to the top five things the country is known for.  The Side Dish recently put out an article in that featured Brugal and the production process of the Dominican rum.  The Dominican Baseball Guy agrees with the article, in the sense that Brugal is the most important and most popular spirit in the Dominican Republic.

Brugal is definitely the drink of choice in the DR, along with Presidente beer.

Typically people buy the one liter, cheapest version of Brugal, the white rum. It costs about 5 dollars if I remember correctly. Dominicans head to a colmado (a Dominican convenient store/bar), buy a bottle with 3 plus friends, and sit around in a circle and pass it around, drinking strait from the bottle, typically no chasers.

I tried to buy a Coke the first few times, then started to realize that buying a Coke is two dollars and the rum is five dollars.  Most people do not have the budget to buy the Coke, and would rather spend a little more and just get the Rum.  So, I stopped spending two dollars on Cokes because it seemed like it was almost offensive spending that much in front of someone that may live off $5-10 per day.

I often bought a Presidente after this, just to have something to wash it down a little.  Then my Dominican friends would say I was a drunk, drinking rum and beer back to back.  So, I really could not win in that dilemma.

I would say this process repeated itself four to five times per week over the four plus months I was in the country.  And the process repeats itself a million times over, every day in the Dominican Republic.  Brugal of course is always a good accompaniment for Dominican baseball games too.

Brugal rum IS the rum in the Dominican Republic: ubiquitous and tasty and Dominican to it's core.
The Dominican Baseball Guy drinking the famous Dominican rum, Brugal.  A typical night in the
Dominican Republic: six guys sitting in a circle passing around a bottle of Brugal.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dominicano Francisco "Frankie" Matos es presentado como coach de Salt Lake Bees

The Angels named a new hitting coach for their AAA affiliate the Salt Lake Bees on Tuesday.  And the new coach is a native of the Dominican Republic.

Francisco "Frankie" Matos is the new coach.  He has been with the Angels for six seasons, and has worked his way up from A-ball.

Matos is a former player that had a sixteen year career in professional baseball, mostly in the minor leagues.  He had a brief stint with the A's in 1994, and also played in the Mexican Baseball League and for several independent league teams before retiring in 2004.  For a lifetime baseball man it is good to see him doing well as a coach.

Like a number of successful Dominican players, Matos has chosen to make his full time residence in the States, rather than return and live in his native Dominican.  He lives in Huntsville, Alabama in the off-season.

Matos is from Sanot Domingo, Republica Dominicana.
The new hitting coach of the Salt Lake Bees, Francisco "Frankie" Matos.
Photo by  Debora  Robinson (Angels minor league head shots)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dominican beisbol player of the week: Nelson Cruz

So, most weeks the Dominican Beisbol Guy picks his Dominican player of the week based on the overall NL and AL player of the week voting.  Almost without fail there is at least one Dominican player that receives votes in at least one of the leagues.  But this week not a single Dominican player received a vote.

Entonces, the Dominican Baseball Guy is going with probably his favorite player in all of Major League Baseball at the moment, Nelson Cruz.

Cruz warmed up last week.  He had two home runs and eight RBI in seven games.  He also hit over .340 and scored six runs.  Of course most of this came in a route of the Angels last Sunday in which he went 4-5 with a home run and four RBI.

Even if he had not had such a productive week, the Dominican Baseball Guy could have very well picked him as the Dominican player of the week.  He is the Dominican Baseball Guy's favorite player and he plays for the DBG's favorite team, after all.

Dominican beisbol player Nelson Cruz is from Monte Cristi, Republica Dominicana.
Dominican baseball player Nelson Cruz, by Keith Allison on Flickr

Friday, May 18, 2012

Dominican Cheerleaders, Bailarinas de Licey

It is time for one of the Dominican Baseball Guy's most popular updates, Dominican Cheerleaders.

So, the first Dominican cheerleader updates featured cheerleaders from Escogido.  Just so you know that every team has cheerleaders, today's update will feature a couple videos of the Licey cheerleaders performing during a game. Funny thing is these videos look like they were filmed by a player, or at least someone in the dugout.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

First Brazilian plays in MLB and Dominican player Vladimir Guerrero could be his teammate

Yan Gomes became the first Brazilian to appear in an MLB game on Thursday.  He went 2-3 in his debut for the Blue Jays after being called up from AAA earlier in the day.

For Gomes, it is an honor to be the first Brazilian to play in the MLB:
"Growing up in Brazil you would never think of that, so coming out here and having it, it seems like it happened so fast.  So I definitely have to take it in.  I'm really proud of it, it's an honour to represent my country."
His strong performance at the plate last year in AAA and this year in Spring Training earned him the promotion.  Gomes came up to replace the suspended Brett Lawrie at third base for the Jays.  He is hoping to prove himself while Laurie is on suspension, but a return to the minors seems inevitable at this point.  If he keeps up his strong hitting he could catch on as a major league utility player (Gomes plays catcher and several other positions).

In other news, Dominican player Vladimir Guerrero could be joining Gomes soon, if both are on the Jays big league roster.  It seems that Guerrero is performing well in the minors and could be fast tracked to the big league club.

Vladimir Guerrero is from Nizao, Dominican Republic.
Vladimir Guerrero plays with the Orioles in 2011
Dominican baseball player Vladimir Guerrero could be on the Blue Jays major league roster soon.
Photo by to by Keith Allison on Flickr

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Cano Baseball Experience: culture and baseball in the Dominican Republic

Yankees all-star and perennial MVP candidate Robinson Cano has been trained most of his life by his father.  While growing up and training in the Dominican Republic, Cano and his father have both lived and trained in the United States since Robinson started as a professional stateside.   The Canos have come to realize the benefits of understanding baseball and the culture of two countries.

The Canos are not alone in realizing the need and the market for cultural immersion activities around Dominican baseball.  People know that Dominicans are great at baseball and they know that the game occupies a central part of Dominican culture.  So, people want to learn more about the game and see more of Dominican baseball, whether it be in the United States or in the Dominican Republic.

In recent years there have been many groups involved in cultural immersion programs that feature Dominican baseball.  The TCU baseball team made a trip to play some games in the Dominican Republic.  A group of Arkansas baseball players took a missionary trip to the country.  Beyond the Game is a sports tourism company that leads trips to the Dominican Republic in which clients get a crash course in Dominican baseball and culture.

And of course, Major League Baseball and it's teams are growing their cultural development programs for Dominican players.  Even American players are learning Spanish and growing their baseball knowledge by learning more about baseball in the Dominican Republic.

So, in this tradition, Robinson Cano and his father are offering the Cano Baseball Experience.  From the website:
The Canó Baseball Experience (CBE) is a unique, authentic Dominican baseball experience. CBE is directed by Jose Canó, father of New York Yankees All-Star second baseman Robinson Canó and former Major League Baseball pitcher. After years of training Robinson, Jose and Robinson decided it would be great to share the experience of authentic Dominican baseball, Canó style. The goal of CBE is not only to instill and further the most core and fundamental baseball skills and instincts, but to also allow for an appreciation of the game and art of baseball. Your Canó Baseball Experience will last a lifetime, while testing and improving your baseball aptitude and allowing you to experience the methods that make Canó what he is.
So, the Cano Baseball Experience will be grounded more in growing baseball skills and aptitude.  But there will also be a cultural component in that American baseball players will be learning from a Dominican coach.  The Canos will also be offering the experience in Cano's hometown, San Pedro de Macoris.  So, players that choose to have the experience in San Pedro will be visiting one of the most historic baseball towns in the world, and be gaining invaluable cultural knowledge.

So, the Cano Baseball Experience also sees the immersion into Dominican baseball culture as an important aspect.  According to Robinson Cano:
My dad and I have been talking about giving kids a chance to experience baseball, the way I grew up learning it in the Dominican Republic; the whole idea of The Canó Baseball Experience is more than just baseball, its about culture and sharing the Dominican Republic with the kids of the US.
Visit the Cano Baseball Experience website to register:
The Cano Baseball Experience , Baseball, Run, Field

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

American baseball players learning Spanish to communicate with Dominican teammates

It is pretty well known that most MLB teams have expanded their cultural immersion and English classes for Dominican and Latin baseball players, both in the Dominican baseball academies and stateside.  Major League Baseball and the Dominican Republic just signed a deal to further enhance the education of Dominican prospects.  The Astros have a program to teach Latin players English and the Brewers have a cultural immersion program for Latin and Dominican players.

Programs such as these are becoming the norm.  The Dominican Baseball Guy would estimate that at least three-quarters of all MLB teams now have similar programs.

One Cincinnati Reds player is trying to reach out to his Latin and Dominican teammates in the opposite direction.  Joey Votto is learning Spanish and communicating with his Latin teammates in their native language.  Votto thinks this builds camaraderie and brings him closer to his Spanish-speaking teammates.  Before he learned the Spanish basics, Votto did not have much a relationship with some Latin teammates.

The Reds have taken an additional step and offered free language software to anyone in their system.  The Padres have a similar offering for their players and coaches that want to learn Spanish.

"It's nice that they want to learn and understand what we're saying," Votto's Venezuelan teammate Miguel Cairo said. "It creates a better atmosphere and better clubhouse when they know what we're saying."

Off-field chemistry almost always helps with the on-field product, and communicating in Latin players native language shows an effort to build chemistry both on and off the field.
2010 National League MVP Joey Votto is learning Spanish, photo by Geoff Livingston on Flickr

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dominican player of the week: Rafael Furcal of the Saint Louis Cardinals

There is still one really good Dominican baseball player in Saint Louis, and his name is not Albert Pujols.  Cards fans are perhaps happy to have this other Dominican player this season with the way the two players seasons are going.

Rafael Furcal is by far outplaying Pujols thus far.  This week he played well enough to win the Dominican baseball player of the week.  In five games this week, Furcal hit .667, with 14 hits, 4 runs, 2 stolen bases.  He added a couple walks to up his on-base percentage to .696.

He has been in the big leagues for 13 seasons, and Furcal is off to one of his hottest starts ever.  He is batting .383 with 16 RBI through 33 games.  His on-base percentage is pushing .450.  But, this will never hold up.  His career high average for a season that he played a full work load is .300, which came back in 2006 and 2008.

Furcal is what he is: a well above average fielder and a quality top of the order hitter that also has lots of post season experience, and a World Series title.  While this start cannot hold up, it is good enough for the Dominican player of the week this week.

Furcal is from Loma de Cabrera, Dominican Republic.

Other Dominicans in week 4: Robinson Cano (.500, 3 2B, HR, 6 RBI) from San Pedro de Macoris.
Dominican Rafael Furcal had a great week with the Cardinals
Dominican player of the week Rafael Furcal with the Dodgers in 2010, photo by SD Dirk on Flickr

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dominican beisbol player Vladimir Guerrero signs with Blue Jays

Dominican beisbol player Vladimir Guerrero has signed a minor league deal to play with the Blue Jays.  He was most recently rumored to sign with the Indians, and before that there were rumors he was Miami Marlins bound.  But alas the Blue Jays scooped him up, hoping to add depth to a lineup that is third worst in the American League in batting average.

Guerrero will report to the Blue Jays Spring Training complex in Florida for an extended Spring Training.  He then will join one of the Blue Jays minor league affiliates and if he does well there, he should be with the big league club sooner rather than later.

The Dominican Baseball Guy is surprised to see that it has taken this long for him to get picked up.  He hit .290 as a DH last year for the Orioles in 562 at bats.  And he is only two years removed from a .300, 29 HR, and 115 RBI season with the Rangers.

And as Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says, "there's no such thing as a bad minor league signing."

The Blue Jays really do not have much to lose.  If he makes the big league club they get him for cheap.  And if he does not pan out, they only have to pay him a minor league salary.

Dominican beisbol player Vladimir Guerrero es Nizao, Republica Dominicana.
Vladimir Guerrero plays with the Orioles in 2011
Dominican beisbol player Vladimir Guerrero pictured last year with the Orioles.
He recently signed with the Blue Jays, photo by Keith Allison on Flickr

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mets rookie Valdespin first career hit is a walk-off

Just last Saturday, the Dominican Baseball Guy blogged about Mets Dominican prospect Jordany Valdespin making his debut in the big leagues. He went 0-6 in his first stint with the big league club, and was sent back down to the minors...for a day. On Monday he was back with the Mets, and his first hit was a big one. Valdespin hit a walk-off homer into the right field stands to get the win for the Mets.

While the Mets brass have lots of confidence in Valdespin, he may not be in the lineup long. He was mainly called up due to an injury to Ruben Tejada.

In any case, Valdespin was pretty happy after the game. Apparently he promised his mother he would get a hit, and could not wait to call her. Even Dominican big leaguers love their mothers.

Jordany is from San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic.
Mets Dominican player in the minor leagues in 2011
Dominican baseball player Jordany Valdespin in the minor leagues in 2011, photo by Paul Hadsall on Flickr

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dominican pitcher Marmol continues erratic play

Dominican pitcher Carlos Marmol has had an up and down career. He started as a young kid out of the Dominican Republic that was a promising hitter. The Cubs finally convinced him to try pitching, and he turned into a top notch closer. In 2010 he set a record for strikeouts per nine innings and saving 38 out of 43 games.

Last year, he had 10 blown saves. And this season his ERA has ballooned over 5.00 and he lost his closer job. The conditions are there for Dominican pitcher Marmol to regain his closer job.

Kerry Wood has a bad elbow, and the other options in the Cubs bull pen are young and inexperienced. If Marmol can put together a few good outings, the Cubs may just give him a shot to close again.
Dominican pitcher Carlos Marmol, photo by Phil Roeder on Flickr

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Orioles sign Dominican Miguel Tejada, could play at third base

The Dominican Baseball Guy recently did an interview with Adam Brush, the trainer of Miguel Tejada.  The two were working out in Florida, with the anticipation that an MLB team signs him this year.

That anticipation was answered and the Orioles have signed Miguel Tejada for the rest of the season.  The Orioles want a second option at third base, where Mark Reynolds has struggled.

No one knows whether Tejada will replace Reynolds, or even if he will make it onto the big league roster.  For now, Tejada is heading to the Orioles complex in Sarasota, Florida for an extended Spring Training.  If he shows he is ready to play at a major league level, the team can call him up.

This is Miguel Tejada's third stint with the Orioles.  He is from Bani, Dominican Republic.
Dominican player Miguel Tejada (with the Orioles in 2007) is back with the team, photo by Keith Allison on Flickr

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dominican Baseball Player of the Week: Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols is off to a horrendous start this season. He normally would not be in the running for the Dominican Baseball Player of the Week with a one home run performance. But, there were no other Dominican baseball players that had big weeks, and Albert got off the snide with his first home run of the season.

Expect the flood gates to open now. There have not been too many times in the career of Pujols in which he went 28 games and over 100 at-bats without a home run. And the Angels may be coming out of their team slump at the same time. They definitely need Pujols to contend with the Rangers in the AL West.

Dominican Baseball Player of the Week Albert Pujols is from Sano Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Dominican baseball player Albert Pujols with the Cardinals, by Leoraul Torres on Flickr

Dominican player of the week: Pedro Alvarez

Wow, this is a rare occasion. The Dominican Baseball Guy has not heard of this week's Dominican Player of the Week. And he is in his third year in the majors. So it goes, for members of the Pirates organization. EDIT: upon further review the Dominican Baseball Guy blogged about Pedro Alvarez a couple times back in 2010.

Until this year, the Pirates have been mired in obscurity since the days of Barry Bonds pirouetting down the first base line. But this year's group of young Pirates has them reaching toward a playoff appearance. Andrew McCutchen is of course the leader of this requrgent Pirates team, but there are a bunch of other young players helping him out. And one of them is this week's Dominican Player of the Week, Pedro Alvarez.

Alvarez was born in Santo Domingo, but grew up in New York City where he was a star in high school. In that sense he is one of many Dominican York living mostly on the upper west side around the Washington Heights area in New York City. He went on to attend Vanderbilt before being drafted second overall by the Pirates in 2008.

He seems to be living up to expectations that come with that lofty number two overall pick. He made the majors in just his second year and almost instantly became an everyday starter at third base for the Pirates. Alvarez went on to win a National League Player of the Week award last season, and is poised for maybe an All-Star run this season with the resurgent Pirates.

His nickname is 'El Toro' which means 'The Bull' for those of you that do not habla Espanol. And again, he is from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Dominican baseball player with the Pittsburg Pirates
Dominican player of the Week Pedro Alvarez, photo by Keith Allison on Flick

Friday, May 4, 2012

Dominican Republic cockfights simulcast to Boston area bar

Other than baseball, the Dominican Baseball Guy would say that cockfighting is perhaps the second most popular spectator sport in the Dominican Republic. This is slowly changing, and the younger generations opt for basketball, and maybe soccer and volleyball, over cockfighting, but it is still a huge part of the traditional Dominican culture.

So, it is no surprise that Dominican Republic cockfights were being simulcasted to a bar in the Boston area. Like horse racing and dog fighting (ask Michael Vick), the whole point of watching cockfights is to bet on one of the birds.

And if there is anything that Dominicans love more than baseball and cockfighting it is betting on sports. In the Dominican Republic the betting parlors are ubiquitous. You can find one on almost any block. Walk in and you will find 20-30 men all staring at television screens, and zero women. The Dominican men bet on baseball, but also NBA basketball and even hockey, a game that has probably never even been played in the Dominican Republic.

Add to this background the fact that the Boston area has a large Dominican population, second only to New York in the size of the Dominican diaspora, and you have the right conditions to broadcast Dominican Republic cockfighting.

The Massachusetts state police completed a two month investigation and busted the bar owners, confiscating  cash and other assets, and taking the owners and some patrons into custody. There is no word on the ethnicity of any of the culprits, but the Dominican Baseball Guy would bet that at least some of them are Dominicans.
Cockfighting is one of the most popular sports in the Dominican Republic
Typical Dominican Republic cockfighter

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dominican Golf: Albert Pujols to host celebrity golf tournament

Dominican baseball player Albert Pujols is the best player in the game by most accounts. He moved to the west coast this year for the first time in his career. This is a major loss for his old team the Cardinals, and major addition for the Angels. But it is perhaps an even bigger loss for the city of Saint Louis.

His move to Los Angeles will also affect his charitable givings. Albert is well known to be at the head of the Pujols Family Foundation, a non-profit that contributes to families of children with Down syndrome and helps poverty-stricken families in his native Dominican Republic.

Albert is a legend in Saint Louis both for his on-field work, and for his charitable work.

The Pujols Family Foundation has hosted a golf tournament for the last nine years in the Saint Louis area, but this year his annual golf tournament will be taking place in Southern California at the Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

Albert is excited to host the tournament and all his celebrity friends:
"We are excited to show the people of Southern California what the Pujols Family Foundation is all about," Pujols said in a statement. "This is a great day for the Foundation, and to host our event at a course like Trump National is pretty special."

The tournament will take place on July 26th and all proceeds benefit the Pujols Family Foundation. Visit the charity's website for more information:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dominican baseball academies: place to learn baseball and English too

Most followers of the Dominican Baseball Guy, or Dominican baseball in general, know that the Dominican baseball academies of the MLB teams are an important part in the development of Dominican prospects.  Every team now has an academy in the Dominican Republic.

The original point of the Dominican baseball academies was to develop the baseball skills of young Dominican players.  And the academies have done a pretty good job at that over the last twenty plus years.

But recently the need to teach young Dominican players life skills and English has been moved to close to an equal field with the players developing their on-field game.  The Dominican Republic and MLB recently signed an agreement that put forth the steps and the infrastructure necessary to educate young players on English and cultural differences between the Dominican Republic and the United States.  The agreement also allows for the creation of vocational programs to teach Dominican prospects other job skills in case a career in baseball does not work out.

So, the government of the Dominican Republic and MLB seem to be moving in a good direction in regards to educating their Dominican prospects.

More evidence that MLB and their teams are making an effort to better prepare their Dominican players for a life after baseball: a Northeastern University student recently served as an intern with the Red Sox in their Dominican baseball academy, and worked as an education consultant.

Roberto Lavin served as a translator, English teacher, and cultural consultant for the Red Sox Dominican prospects.  According to Lavin, learning English was a focus for all the Red Sox prospects, but especially for catchers:
“The Red Sox would always talk about how essen­tial Eng­lish is for all posi­tion players, but to a catcher, Eng­lish is really a neces­sity,” he explained. “I worked closely with young catchers, tutoring them fre­quently and sim­u­lating catcher-​​pitcher mound interactions.”
But the focus was not only on learning English.  Cultural anthropologists, such as the Dominican Baseball Guy, know the importance of learning about a culture before someone is thrust into a new country and culture full force.  Dominican prospects face culture shock and may have ethnocentric views that inhibit their assimilation into a new culture.  That is where education consultants such as Roberto Lavin serve an important role in the Dominican academies.  Eddie Romero, the Red Sox director of international scouting spoke to this:
“Roberto did a ter­rific job of assisting our young Latin players in not only learning Eng­lish, but also in preparing them for the Amer­ican cul­ture once they got to the States,” said Eddie Romero, the Red Sox director of inter­na­tional scouting.
The Dominican Baseball Guy feels that MLB teams have made a great effort in these regards.  The majority of teams now have a coordinator of cultural immersion for Latin players.  And most prospects that spend some time in a Dominican baseball academy are more prepared to live in the United States, and/or work in a field outside baseball, than they were before entering the academy.  While the teams could spend more money and hire more staff in these areas, the league has come a long way in this regard and seems to be on the right track to grow these programs, as the international presence of the game grows.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dominican player Hanley Ramirez of the Miami Marlins signs deal to wear New Balance cleats

Dominican player Hanley Ramirez has been one of the most talked Dominican baseball players in recent years. He had a down year last year.  He is off to a slow start this year.  But the Dominican Baseball Guy still says he is a perennial MVP candidate, and has the sweetest swing in the game.

Ramirez will be wearing a brand new line of custom New Balance baseball cleats this season as he roams the left side of the infield for the Miami Marlins, according to a press release from New Balance.  The shoes (christened the MB4040 baseball spikes) look pretty slick, and according to Ramirez they are one of the top shoes on the market:
“The 4040 is light and comfortable, I feel speedy, and they also look good. New Balance has the whole package,” says Ramirez.
As part of the deal, New Balance has agreed to support Ramirez in his charitable endeavors throughout the course of the contract.  To start that charitable partnership the Dominican player Ramirez and New Balance will auction off a pair of game-worn, signed cleats for the benefit of the Marlins Foundation.

Hanley Ramirez is excited about the possibility of helping people in the Miami area and in his home country:
“I’m also looking forward to working with a brand that will help me achieve my goal to help people in need here and in the Dominican.”
Great to see Dominican baseball players giving back to their home country.  Any charitable efforts in the Dominican Republic are surely needed and appreciated, especially among the youth of the country.

And again, the cleats are sick, certainly not you grandfathers baseball spikes:

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