Like most readers of this website, I am eagerly anticipating the upcoming Serie del Caribe. Last year’s tournament was action-packed with lots of tense, great baseball. I expect much the same from this year’s tournament. That’s even with the news dropping last week that the winner of Serie Nacional de Béisbol will not be participating in 2020’s festivities. That’s a big blow to the CWS (though I use the actual names of leagues and tournaments I do use the acronyms that have taken hold in pop culture as they aren’t official for the most part, so CWS for Carribean World Series instead of SC for Serie del Caribe, CNS for Cuban National Series, etc.) and though they have made a move to bolster their tournament it brings up a rather large issue with the way the CWS functions.
Essentially the CWS is meant to be the World Series of the Caribbean and Latin American winter leagues. To that end, the usual representatives, at least in the modern CWS, have been the aforementioned CNS, Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana, Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente from Puerto Rico, Liga Mexicana del Pacífico, and Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional. Last year the champion from Béisbol Profesional de Panamá gained entry at the last minute, won the whole thing, and thus PROBEIS appears to be a regular CWS member moving forward. To replace the CNS champs Liga Colombiana de Béisbol Profesional will be sending their champion this year.
There have been rumblings the past few years that the CWS intends to expand. In addition to the usual five entrants plans had been put in place for the eventual additions of the PROBEIS and LCBP Champions. Recent events accelerated their move from Serie Latinoamericana to the CWS. One other league has been earmarked for a spot for a few years now, Nicaragua’s Liga de Béisbol Profesional Nacional. Yet, here we are in 2020 and the LBPN champions will once again be locked out of the CWS. Instead, they will play in the SLA, which is not bad but keeps them in a tier that they outgrew long ago.
The CWS raiding the SLA for teams is not in and of itself a problem. Both tournaments serve very clear purposes and can co-exist. CWS is the World Series of the Latin American leagues while the SLA is the building ground for leagues that aren’t quite up to snuff for the CWS. It’s important that the champions of Beisbol Invernal de Guatemala get to play against other league champions to gain experience. That is why the SLA exists and why hopefully it will always be around. What the SLA should not be is a holding ground for leagues that clearly belong in the CWS but aren’t there yet, for one reason or another. In last year’s SLA the LBPN team ran roughshod over every single team. How much experience is a team from a lesser league actually gaining when the LBPN champion is up by double digits after the first inning?
The SLA is currently made up of the LBPN, BIG, Liga Argentina de Béisbol, and Liga Invernal Veracruzana de Béisbol Profesional out of Mexico. In a year like 2020 where the SLA roster has been decimated by the promotions of PROBEIS and LCBP to the CWS as well as LIV taking the year off altogether I understand why LBPN is important to the SLA. Still, Liga Nacional de Béisbol de El Salvador’s champion doesn’t get an invitation to the SLA and they really should. The problem right now is that if they did they would find themselves inevitably facing an LBPN squad that is on an entirely different level. That’s because LBPN belongs with the other top tier leagues in the CWS and for the development of the younger/lesser Latin American leagues, they need to take their rightful place in the CWS sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, the CWS has a chance starting next year to field an eight-team tournament truly representing the very best of Latin American baseball. A CWS without the champion from LBPN isn’t a true CWS and it’s about time that the governing body of the CWS, the Confederación de Béisbol Profesional del Caribe, takes the necessary steps to bring LBPN into the fold and present the very best baseball tournament in the world. The ball is literally in their hands, all the CWS executives have to do is throw the rock to LBPN.
Editor’s Note: Right after this was published I was made aware that the SLA would not be held this year. That means that LBPN is good enough to be in the CWS but because they haven’t been allowed in yet their champion has nowhere to play after their league season is finished.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Unknown