I’m introducing a new column at Words Above Replacement that will serve as a primer of sorts for various unaffiliated leagues. I’ll be touching on the league’s format, streaming capabilities, reporters to follow, teams, websites, availability of statistics, limited history, etc. My intention is to roll these out on a somewhat weekly basis before play begins in the league/series’ upcoming season or tournament. Without further ado, it’s time to dig into the first league/organization, Serie del Caribe.
Serie del Caribe (also called the Caribbean World Series or CWS for short) has been around since 1949. The basic idea behind the series was a tournament to crown the best team among the various Latin American winter leagues. The series originally consisted of four teams- Venezuela, Cuba, Panama, Puerto Rico- playing a round-robin format with the champion being the team with the best record. Following the 1960 CWS Cuba left the series and that caused the tournament to cease to operate for the next nine years. 1970 saw the return of the CWS with a three-team format of Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic. For the 1971 tournament, the series went back to a four-team format with the addition of Mexico.
Things continued this way until 2014 (minus a slight blip in 1981 when there was no tournament thanks to Venezuela not participating) when Cuba finally reentered the fold. In 2019 Panama returned and the participating teams increased to six. The 2020 series is about to kick off with the same number of teams but Colombia replacing Cuba thanks to reported visa issues for the Cuban representative. The CWS typically takes place during the first week of February, and this year games will begin on February 1st and end on February 7th.
The CWS currently employs a round-robin format. The teams will play once against every other team and then the four teams with the best records will advance to a single-elimination semifinal round. Those winners advance to a single game championship. In-game rules are very similar to those of Major League Baseball with the one notable exception of the designated hitter being used in all games.
Level of Play
CWS pretty clearly falls in the AAAA level. There are true ML talent players on teams all the way down to Rookie-level. That is a wide swath of talent, and that’s often the case in most unaffiliated leagues. The difference with the CWS is that it’s an amalgamation of the very best that the Latin American leagues have to offer. For that reason, the talent level tends to be closer to ML than to Rookie and for me, that means the CWS is a AAAA-level league.
Each participating country is represented by the champion of their respective premier winter professional league.
- Colombia – Liga Colombiana de Béisbol Profesional (Vaqueros de Montería)
- Dominican Republic – Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana (Toros del Este)
- Mexico – Liga Mexicana del Pacífico (Tomateros de Culiacán)
- Panama – Béisbol Profesional de Panamá (Astronautas de Chiriquí)
- Puerto Rico – Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente (Cangrejeros de Santurce)
- Venezuela – Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional (Cardenales de Lara)
Next year’s edition should see the return of Cuba (Serie Nacional de Béisbol) and the addition of Nicaragua (Liga de Béisbol Profesional Nacional).
The CWS website has up to date game by game statistics and box scores. They also have a mobile app called Serie del Caribe Móvil that offers news, statistics, live game scores, box scores, and as it happens gameday tracking. CWS’ website also has historical statistics. Otherwise, statistics are available on Baseball Reference. Baseball Reference’s statistics only date back to the 2006-2007 series and do not include the playoffs.
People to Follow
There’s a bevy of folks who cover the CWS, though some stick out more than others. I would highly recommend these three folks if you want quality CWS news. These people also branch off into other folks, so if you start with these follows as your base you should be able to weed through others and cultivate exactly who you want to follow for your CWS opinions and news.
If you happen to get ESPN and have a package that includes ESPN Deportes then most games are broadcast on ESPN Deportes as well as the ESPN website. ESPN is dependent on you having an existing cable subscription and cost varies depending on your provider. LMP TV has also offered a streaming package for the CWS in past seasons. However, it is usually only available for purchase by United States residents the week of its release and then after that United States citizens are out of luck. The cost is $9.99 and every game is included. I would suggest checking their website as much as possible in the next couple of days to try and grab the package if it becomes available. Both ESPN and LMP TV have mobile app capabilities.
There you have it, that’s more than enough information to not go into Serie del Caribe with blinders on. Truth be told, CWS is great baseball and that’s the only thing you really need to know. If you can, find a way to watch the best baseball tournament in the world, you’ll thank me later.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Unknown