Playing the Splits in LA?

Playing the Splits?  Bad Match-ups Jeopardize Dodger’s Post Season Success

By Robb Anderson

I am generally not one to constantly second guess a manager’s decisions about pitching changes.  Sometimes you have to pick your poison and do your best with what you have.  This post season, however, has been full of bullpen head-scratchers across a variety of teams.  While I was ready to go into a spate of interesting pitching changes across the board, I tossed that piece in the trash.  More interesting and tragic things are taking place closer to home.

In game 1, while I personally think Kershaw was left in too long, I respect the decision of Don Mattingly to leave him in.  Kershaw is after all considered to be the best pitcher on the planet so a little leeway is not ridiculous.  Using Howell against a hot Matt Carpenter in game 2, okay, not a life-threatening decision.  The Dodgers won on Kemp’s home run.  All is forgotten.  But as soon as it was mentioned that Scott Elbert was coming into a 1-1 tie in the 7th to play “matchup” with the Cardinals’ left-handed lineup, I thought to myself that something doesn’t work here.

Ryu had thrown 94 pitches and was not struggling after 6 innings.  Yes, he is coming off the DL but another argument can be made that he also has the freshest arm in the rotation assuming that his shoulder is good.  He threw well and there was no indication that it was an issue.  Under these circumstances, you could potentially squeeze one more inning out of him especially considering the track record a very shaky mid-relief bullpen.  These are the playoffs and his arm is not going fall off by trying to see if he can pitch into the 7th.  I recognize you want to give Van Slyke an opportunity to hit one out in Ryu’s spot in the bottom of the 6th, but there were two outs and no one on base.  I can get over pulling Ryu but what followed next was a strategic disaster.

So the magical question that could be asked of Don Mattingly after the game is “Why bring Scott Elbert into that situation?”  The standard managerial line would be “Well, while Scott only had 4 1/3 innings this year at the major league level, he has plenty of experience in the big leagues.  He pitched well on Friday.  We wanted to hopefully get by Molina so that we could force a favorable lefty-lefty advantage against Jay and Wong.”  That sounds very reasonable, EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT IT IS FABULOUSLY AND SPECTACULARLY NOT TRUE.

Molina, a right-handed batter, hits basically .280 against both right and left-handers.  So, no real advantage or disadvantage there.  He promptly doubles off Elbert.  Left-handed Jon Jay is up next.  Or shall I call him, THE ALMIGHTY 2014 SOUTHPAW SLAYER.  He batted to the tune of .375 this year against lefties (.283 against righties) and got hits Friday against lefties Kershaw and Howell in the same game.  In 2012 and 2013, he did not bat well against lefties, but this year he figured something out and is dominating southpaws.  In any event, everyone in the ballpark knows he is going to lay down a bunt anyway, right?  So who cares about his splits?  . . . . . (Must  . . . resist . . . bite . . . .your . . . . tongue . . .Robb . . . . ).

No, on second thought I can’t let this one go.  Even if you know he is going to bunt, why make it comfortable for him to do so?  Jay loves lefties so much this year that I am sure he will invite them all over to his house for tea and crumpets every Sunday in the off season.  Why not try and make his bunt as uncomfortable as possible with, oh, I don’t know, A RIGHTY AGAINST WHOM HE BATS 100 POINTS LESS?  Guess not.  He puts down a very good sacrifice bunt and advances Molina to third.

So, let’s continue.  You have Kolton Wong up next, another left-handed batter for one of those favorable lefty-lefty match-ups, right? YOU WOULD BE ONCE AGAIN UNEQUIVOCALLY WRONG (sorry, I am getting addicted to all-caps).  Kolton Wong batted .315 against lefties and .234 against righties this year!  So, we continue with Elbert and who lays one of the fat part of the plate which Wong heroically deposits in the seats.  Game over.

It took me all of ten seconds on baseball reference to find the splits on Jay, Wong, and Carpenter. While their lineup has plenty of lefty batters, they are not at a disadvantage against lefties which goes against the grain – the only exception to this being Adams who has a .318/.190 righty-lefty split.  After Kershaw’s disastrous outing on Friday, however, this shouldn’t be a surprise.

Let’s get something clear.  I don’t blame Scott Elbert.  He has had a long and hard road to make it back and I wish him all the luck in the world.  He was simply placed in a bad situation.  For this particular game, I don’t even blame Ned Colletti who balked at picking up a quality reliever when it was obvious that this was going to be an issue.  I don’t even blame Dale Scott who called a very bizarre and inconsistent strike zone behind home plate.  I blame Mattingly and the bench coaches for making a big strategic mistake in a crucial moment on what are very basic splits. I don’t know if the Dodgers have one of those dark and mystic Sabermetric bat caves but this isn’t exactly advanced rocket science.  These facts should have been readily available and well known.

Ok.  Let’s all breathe deeply.  The good thing is that we have Kershaw (and-please-God-help-us-with-a-win-today) followed by Greinke who was lights out.  While things look dark, there is still hope if the Dodgers don’t trip over their own feet.

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Barriers to the Next Fernando in Mexico

The search for the next Fernando (part 3)

(This is the third of a three-part series from

Why aren’t there more Fernando Valenzuelas coming out of Mexico? As we previously discussed, Fernando was a godsend not only for the Dodgers but for baseball in general bringing in more new fans to the sport than anyone in modern history. So why isn’t there a line of Mexican stars just waiting to make their mark in the major leagues? Why isn’t there a more active MLB presence in Mexico? This is a complex issue but it is solvable if the MLB truly wants that next Mexican star and is willing to invest in his development.

Poverty – This is by far the biggest problem. In the grand scheme of things, playing a sport is a luxury. When a family is trying to make ends meet, playing baseball usually doesn’t solve it. As well, baseball is primarily a rural sport in Mexico. The players who have the most passion and desire to play are in dusty little towns where they play cascarita or pickup games far away from the bright lights of the city.

I have managed travelling teams in the state of Morelos for many years now and poverty is by far the biggest barrier to kids playing long enough to have success. It is not because they lose interest or because they don’t want to play or because they don’t have the skill, but because the minimal expense to play is simply too much for their family budget. To play on our team (which drives 2 hours to Puebla every Saturday morning) there is a fee of $40 USD per month to cover the cost of entering the league with a little bit left over for gas along with an additional fee of $2 USD per game for the umpire and cost of the game ball. While that amount doesn’t come close to covering the actual costs, most families cannot consistently pay even that small amount on a regular basis.

There are no publicly funded Little League fields in Mexico. (Photo credit - Robb Anderson)

Most families simply cannot afford the $42 per month for their kids to play baseball in Mexico.
(Photo credit – Robb Anderson)

This season our Morelos team won the 9-10 year old division with a record of 11 wins and 2 losses in our first season in “La Liga Ignacio Zaragoza de Puebla.” We were the classic “hicks” invited to play in the big city who everyone wrote off. It took time to learn new rules, overcome the fact that we were always playing on the road, getting to know new umpires, gaining confidence, and by the end of the season we were routinely winning by “knockouts” (more than 10 runs after the 4th inning). While our parents were very happy with the experience and resulting success, I had 5 or 6 mothers approach me to say that they couldn’t continue next season because they felt that they couldn’t pay the minimal cost of participation. I always tell them the same thing which is, “We will find a way. Just keep participating. Good things will happen.” We somehow find a way, but many other teams simply disband. A small and perhaps financially insignificant investment by the MLB in Mexico would keep hundreds or perhaps thousands of kids playing and completing.

Lack of Infrastructure – I travel back to the US on a regular basis and my kids are always impressed at the sheer quantity of baseball fields seen from the plane as we land over any US town. In Mexico, we do not have that sort of investment in infrastructure. There are simply not a lot of dedicated children’s baseball fields in the rural areas where baseball is popular. In our state, we have one children’s field in Cuernavaca, the capitol of Morelos. It is filled with dangerous holes and big rocks and is used as a temporary parking lot for the expansive soccer stadium next door with its manicured green grass. In this part of Mexico, kids mostly play on the corners of dusty soccer fields. We bring our own bases and create makeshift fields as best we can with sweat and ingenuity. The state or local government simply has no interest in creating children’s baseball fields.

With no state or local funding kids wishing to play organized baseball are often forced to use a remote corners of local soccer fields. (Photo credit - Robb Anderson)

With no state or local funding, kids wishing to play baseball are often forced to use remote corners of local soccer fields. (Photo credit – Robb Anderson)

Many will argue that soccer pulls away the good athletes in central and southern Mexico making baseball a distant second in popularity but the dynamic of the problem is more complex than that. It is more of an economic issue than anything else. In Mexico, baseball is traditionally a rural sport and these are generally the poorest areas, far away from the scouts, infrastructure, and investment.

Fight between Little League and FEMEBE – When it rains it pours, right? As if things couldn’t get any worse for the development of children’s baseball in Mexico, we have a continuing personal spat played out between the Mexican Baseball Federation and Little League Baseball.

FEMEBE is the governing body that controls baseball in Mexico and Little League is the program that has garnered the most attention because of the success Mexican Little League teams have enjoyed in the Little League World Series. This dispute began with a fight for control of a particular league in Mexico City. The FEMEBE was not pleased with the change of administration. Little League recognized this league and allowed their children to participate in tournaments. In response, the FEMEBE threatened to disaffiliate from the federation all leagues in the central and south of the country that participated in Little League events and tournaments.

The north of Mexico is strong enough to resist the threats of the FEMEBE and continue to participate, but the central and southern regions are not. Many teams and state associations won’t take part in Little League out of fear of reprisal or blacklisting children from the state or national selection teams by the FEMEBE. This sort of fight has a chilling effect on participation in the sport and is unfortunate.

Mexican Professional Baseball – La Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB) is the most powerful element in the development of Mexican prospects but it restricts the flow of those prospects to the MLB and MiLB. This is done by the implementation of one simple rule: if a Mexican prospect jumps directly to the major or minor leagues without playing for the LMB, that prospect is banished from ever playing in the league.

Why would this restrict the flow of prospects? First of all, Mexican prospects can sign with a LMB team even younger than 16 which is the minimum age for the MLB. These young kids tend to sign lop-sided and unfair contracts to play for LMB teams. Players generally come from poor families having little education or knowledge about how to legally protect themselves. Many go without legal counsel and some allegedly sign blank sheets of paper which the LMB team “fills in” afterwards. These agreements mandate a hefty 75% of any signing bonus be paid to the LMB team to release them from their contract. As well, the LMB has negotiated an exemption for their percentage of the signing bonus as it relates to the MLB’s international signing limit. Mexican teams make a significant amount of money from the signing bonuses, driving up the price for the Mexican prospect, and inevitably reducing the amount of Mexican prospects that make it to the minor leagues.

The LMB banishment rule is quite ingenious. It forces most players identified by scouts to play at least a year in the LMB. Those who have success later negotiate their release, earning the team a significant amount on the signing bonus. Since most of these players are signed before even finishing high school, they have very little education and don’t have anything to fall back on when their baseball career has ended. They play a few years in the MiLB or maybe even reach the MLB level. Their US career ends at some point and they want to come back to Mexico to play in the more lucrative LMB. Older players can play for years after their US baseball career has ended and this is, in effect, their “retirement.” Many players have taken this path – Oscar Robles, Geronimo Gil, Karim Garcia, Jorge Cantu among others. While prospects that make the jump directly to the MiLB can come back and play in the Mexican Winter League in the Pacific (which is not associated with LMB), it is not as lucrative as the powerful LMB, whose owners are some of the wealthiest people in Mexico. With the threat of banishment, very few Mexican prospects go directly to the MLB or MiLB. The only recent notable examples I could find were Sebastian Valle who was at one point a touted catcher prospect for the Phillies and Christian Villanueva, a 3B prospect in the Cubs system.

It is very difficult to predict what prospects will be successful, especially foreign prospects. If you add in a couple million dollars of risk, Mexican prospects become less desirable for an MLB team. Prospect Luis Heredia was signed recently for 2.6 million by the Pirates and 75% of that money was paid to the LMB team that released him. The hefty cost to release players from their contracts unnaturally restricts the flow of Mexican prospects to the minor leagues. The Dominican prospects signed as free agents, as well as the Canadian and US prospects acquired through the amateur draft are usually much less expensive and as a result more are acquired and tested in the minor leagues.

This issue came to the forefront last year in Mexican baseball circles when David Gonzalez (Adrian’s father) who represents Mexican players filed a rather strange suit in California against the MLB to negate a LMB contract signed by a Mexican prospect who wanted to play in the Red Sox system. Apparently Boston balked at the price tag to release Daniel Pesquiera from his Mexican team and Gonzalez unsuccessfully filed suit to release him from his LMB contract. Pesquiera never made it to the Red Sox. Cases like this highlight the problems Mexican prospects face in getting to the minor leagues. Many end up being too expensive to be released from their contracts and as a result stay in the LMB.

Cultural and Social Transition to Playing in the US – Many players have a difficult time making the cultural and social transition to life in the minor leagues and are simply not prepared to succeed. Imagine your 16-year-old being shipped off to a small rural town in a country where he doesn’t speak the language, doesn’t know the culture, and, in addition, consider that fact that he has practically no education. The current trend is to sign prospects as young as possible, but they are simply not in a good position to succeed. They don’t have the tools. In Mexico, there are baseball academies linked to the Mexican professional teams but in very few instances education is even offered to children as young as 14.

In order to succeed, Mexican players need to be educated, not only in baseball but in life. They need to learn English. They need to have exposure to the US prior to being sent to a small minor league town. They need to expand their cultural horizons. They need to have a reasonable option to dropping out of school and immediately entering Mexican professional baseball at 14 or 15 years old. They need to have a reason to become educated and a developmental option with a strong life/educational component is a long-term solution that will generate productive players.

In spite if the hardships, baseball is baseball and as long as there are those willing to sacrifice and work hard, perhaps the is another Fernando out there somewhere. (Photo credit - Robb Anderson)

In spite if the hardships, baseball is baseball and as long as there are those willing to sacrifice and work hard, perhaps the next Fernando is already out there somewhere.
(Photo credit – Robb Anderson)

These issues are difficult, but not impossible to overcome. If MLB truly wants the next Fernando to energize its fan base and create multi-generational followers, they will need to invest in Mexico. There is no way around it. Not only will an investment in underprivileged Mexican children resonate with the large and growing Mexican-American communities in the US but it will create a whole new generation of fans and in the process potentially develop the Fernando Valenzuela of a new generation.

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Finding Fernando (Part Two)

The search for the next Fernando (part 2)

(This is the second of a three-part series written by Robb Anderson of for

Before we go any further, I should declare my bias. I am a rabid, Mexican patriot. I love Mexico and while I grew up in rural Iowa, I have spent the past 17 years here. I have dual citizenship. My wife is Mexican, my 3 boys were born here, and my business is located here. I have played baseball in Mexico as well as managed Little League baseball for local children. Being a patriotic Mexican, I will go out of my way to support a Mexican star. I secretly hope for the next Fernando Valenzuela and I eagerly await his arrival. I am a true believer. I know I am not alone on either side of the border.

When Luis “Cochito” Cruz had his short-lived success with the Dodgers in late 2012, we celebrated. High fives all around for every hit followed by bouncing little children and chants of “MEH-HEE-KO! MEH-HEE-KO!” This journeyman, career minor leaguer became our instant hero. We travelled all the way from Mexico to St. Louis to see a series against the Cardinals in July of 2012. Cruz hit a 3-run homer in his first at bat and we celebrated in support of our “paisano.” I am sure the Cardinal fans thought we were crazy. Could he be “the one?” Against reason and perhaps the baseball gods we hoped it was true.

I was not alone in my support of Cochito. The chant of “CRUUUUUUUUUZ” echoed through Dodger stadium in late 2012 and early 2013. Even Adrian Gonzalez who played for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic and smartly chose “El Mariachi Loco” (a classic Mexican mariachi song) as his special walk-up music didn’t get that sort of reception. Although Cruz sputtered with the bat and was released in 2013, we still monitor his progress as we do for the other Mexicans who play in the Major Leagues. Unfortunately, it appears he was not “the one.”

You simply cannot help but immediately like Luis Cruz and his perpetual smile. (Photo credit - Jennifer Hilderbrand)

Luis Cruz became a huge fan-favorite late in the 2012 season. Unfortunately he struggled horribly in 2013 and was eventually released by the Dodgers.
(Photo credit – Jennifer Hilderbrand)

As a marketer in any business, you need to find ways to create the emotional connection to your product that pulls on the heartstrings of your consumer. In the end, the goal of the MLB executive is not only to put “fannies in the seats” but to create multi-generational faithful fans – the ones that stick with you through thick and thin. It is important to put the best players on the field, but you also need to facilitate an emotional connection between fans and individual players. Fernando Valenzuela did just that with his persona, his story and his success especially with Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.

Add in the overwhelming population shifts going on not only in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, and San Diego but across the US, one would think that instead of maquiladoras across the border churning out consumer goods, there would be “Fernando Factories” churning out the next great Mexican superstar to rally the masses. But alas, that is not the case. There appear to be few MLB teams that recognize the need, have the desire, or have a plan to find a new Fernando other than occasionally signing a small amount of players out of the Mexican professional leagues.

The Houston Astros have been the only team recently to publically recognize the need for a new Fernando. Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow was born in Mexico, speaks fluent Spanish, and spent his childhood in Mexico City. He has relayed his organizational desire to find the next great Mexican star, recognizing that their fan base is changing rapidly. According to Astros marketing development coordinator Nicky Patriarca, the team sees the urgent need for a Mexican star. In 2012, 27% of their fan base was Hispanic and 90% of that group having Mexican roots. What she calls “the big stat,” however, is that 49% of the fan base in the 18-34 category, where your immediate future as a franchise rests, is Hispanic. This follows a similar trend in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, and San Diego, yet oddly there has been no structural investment by major league baseball or individual teams in developing the next Mexican star.

Most of the MLB’s focus over the past 30 years has been on developing talent in the Dominican Republic. All teams have a physical presence on the island with their player development academies – the latest investment coming from the Seattle Mariners who spent over 7 million dollars to establish a state of the art facility. While there are definite ethical and social problems with the way things are run in the Dominican Republic, the investment has produced big results starting with only one Dominican player (the venerable Ozzie Virgil) in 1956 to as many as 161 players in 2006. Although that number has plateaued in recent years at 137, some of the biggest names in the game now come from this tiny island with the support of a huge investment from the MLB and the baseball fanaticism of the Dominican people. With very little direct investment, Mexico consistently has 15 to 28 players per year in the major leagues.

The Dodgers famous Campo Las Palmas was the first baseball academy in the Dominica Republic. Unfortunately, there are no such academies in Mexico. (Photo courtesy of

The Dodgers famous Campo Las Palmas was the first baseball academy in the Dominica Republic. There are no such academies in Mexico. (Photo courtesy of

But there is something missing from this equation. Major league organizations continue to have a problem that will only become more pronounced as time progresses: there is still a great business “disconnect” between a huge population shift towards a Mexican-American fan base and the complete lack of investment by major league teams in developing a Mexican star. While I appreciate the skill of a great Dominican ballplayer, from a marketer’s point of view it is not necessarily what the current and future fan base wants. If current trends continue, a team could lose the great opportunity to pull in a new generation of fans and make that all important multi-generational fan connection as Valenzuela did for the Dodgers.

So what is the solution? Is there a solution? Next we will take a look at the state of Mexican baseball in general taking a look at current Dodger as well as other Mexican major league prospects and some the inherent barriers in finding the next Fernando.

(Part three continues tomorrow)

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Finding Fernando (1 of 3)

The search for the next Fernando (part 1)

(This is the first of a three-part series on that is written by Robb Anderson of

Although Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, baseball was still primarily a white man’s sport in 1958. When the Dodgers made their move to Los Angeles, longtime Dodger owner Walter O’Malley saw something different – an opportunity in a different population. O’Malley was a savvy businessman but also a visionary in many ways. He could see trends that others couldn’t or perhaps weren’t open to see. Maybe in the back of his mind, as well, he wanted to somehow win back a Mexican-American community that was forcibly removed from Chavez Ravine to build Dodger Stadium. That is pure speculation on my part, but wherever his complicated and perhaps conflicted motives lay, he wanted to sell tickets and create a faithful fan base.

Walter O'Malley was a fearless visionary and incredibly astute businessman. (AP photo)

Walter O’Malley was a fearless visionary and incredibly astute businessman. (AP photo)

In 1959, Hall of Fame announcer, Jaime Jarrín was hired to join the Spanish language broadcast on KWKW with Rene Cardenas who initiated the broadcast proposed by O’Malley in 1958. As Jarrín has described many times on his broadcasts, O’Malley saw the potential in the Mexican-American community as a natural Dodger fan base and always wanted to find a player who could energize that population and create life-long fans. While he spent a good portion of his life looking for that one great Mexican star his dream was never realized, passing away in 1979 – only thirteen months before the emergence of Fernando Valenzuela.

Valenzuela broke into the major leagues towards the end of the 1980 season. When the 1981 season took place, Fernando-mania was well underway. Valenzuela not only won the Rookie of the Year but the Cy Young and a World Series ring.

Apart from being a great player, Fernando had a much more important effect on baseball ushering in a wave of new fans over the next decade, not only in Los Angeles but across the country and throughout Latin America. Many of those fans have Mexican roots and were inspired by Valenzuela’s personal story. As Cruz Angeles, director of ESPN’s great 30 for 30 documentary segment “Fernando Nation,” stated, “My father would use Fernando as an example of what could be achieved. If Fernando, who came from such humble beginnings, could do it, then I could accomplish anything in this country.” On a smaller scale, he even inspired a boy from Keokuk, Iowa (yours truly) to figure out where exotic places like Etchohuaquila, Sonora were on a map – even to try a screwball that sadly didn’t work out.

Valenzuela’s effect on baseball was immediate and at the same time enduring. At one point in the 80’s, there were more radio listeners to Jaime Jarrin on the Spanish language broadcasts of Dodger games than Vin Scully’s English broadcast as stations carrying the games in Spanish jumped from 3 to 17. With Fernando’s influence, the Dodgers were consistently above the 3 million mark in annual attendance through the early 80´s. While on the road in 1981, on the nights when Valenzuela pitched, he incredibly added an average of 14,000 additional tickets per game. As Jarrin stated so succinctly, “I truly believe that there is no other player in major league history who created more new fans than Fernando Valenzuela. Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Joe DiMaggio, even Babe Ruth did not. Fernando turned so many people from Mexico, Central America, South America into fans. He created interest in baseball among people who did not care about baseball.” In Los Angeles, he created what every MLB executive dreams of – faithful, multi-generational fans.

"Everywhere he pitched stadiums were packed and people came from other cities when Fernando was going to pitch when the Dodgers were playing and I don’t think that is ever going to happen again, Legendary Dodgers scout Mike Brito, who discovered Fernando. (Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

“Everywhere he pitched stadiums were packed. People came from other cities when Fernando was going to pitch. I don’t think that is ever going to happen again.” – Legendary Dodgers scout Mike Brito, who discovered Fernando. (Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

Fast forward to 2014. The Hispanic population is one of the fastest growing segments in the US and those with Mexican roots represent up to 70% of that population. Marketing to the burgeoning US Mexican-American population becomes the advertising industry’s main target for growth. Spanish language stations like Univision and Telemundo flourish. TV Novelas are some of the most-watched television programs in the US. Honoring Mexican roots is a source of pride.

Even though Fernando hasn’t played for the Dodgers in decades, his presence is felt beyond his broadcast from the press box. Go to a game at Dodger Stadium and ask any adult in their late 30s, 40s or even 50s when they became a Dodger fan, there is a high probability they will tell you that they became a fan in the 80’s with Fernando-mania. Take a look at the majority fan base at Dodger Stadium and you can feel the Fernando effect; you can get around very easy in Dodger stadium speaking Spanish just as well as English. As someone who speaks Spanish and has lived in Mexico for 17 years, even I feel oddly at home as well as my son who has spent his entire life in Mexico.

Many may recall when Valenzuela held out on the Dodgers for the then-scandalous million dollar contract in the 80’s. In retrospect, he was grossly underpaid. In Los Angeles, he singlehandedly created multiple generations of fans that have continued going to the games – even through the McCourt era! Apart from Walter O’Malley, Fernando Valenzuela is without a doubt the single most important figure in the shaping of the modern Dodgers fan base. That Dodger fan base and the Dodger’s organization I am sure desire the second coming of Fernando, so what is the holdup?

In actual financial terms, that is literally the million dollar or perhaps billion dollar question: Why hasn’t this been repeated? Can it be repeated? Where is the new “Fernando?” With the population shifts in the US, why hasn’t a smart MLB executive or organization been able to scout, develop, and promote a new Mexican star? Are they actively looking to do so? Why wouldn’t they be? What teams are actively searching? What is the state of baseball in Mexico? All juicy issues.

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Morelos Gana Tercer Lugar en Poza Rica

El pasado fin de semana, los niños beisbolistas de MORELOS, nacidos en 2002, 2003 y 2004, inscritos en el proyecto MORELOS LITTLE LEAGUE, llevaron dos equipos a Poza Rica, Veracruz, al Torneo “Amigos del Golfo, del centro y del Norte unidos en el Béisbol“, obteniendo excelentes resultados; Morelos Azul, dirigido por Robb Anderson venció en sus dos primeros compromisos a las escuadras veracruzanas de Cerro Azul con marcador 12-2 y a Poza Rica B con un cardiaco 12-11, posicionándose en semifinales en la tercer ronda por sus triunfos por la vía rápida. Ahí le tocó toparse con Expos de Saltillo Coahuila, el otro invicto del torneo que llegó también por la vía corta al liquidar a sus primeros dos contrincantes (Morelos Rojo y Poza Rica A); este choque de invictos lo perdió Morelos Azul apenas 6-5 el marcador y tuvo que bajar un escalón esperando al mejor posicionado del resto de los participantes (todos ellos con un juego perdido temprano, en primera o segunda ronda), quienes peleaban por el boleto para alcanzar en su record a Morelos Azul; fue Poza Rica A quien vino del sótano a la segunda semifinal donde esperaba Morelos Azul (dado el esquema de Little League utilizado) para ganarle a los Tlahuicas Azules 15-5. La gran final en consecuencia fue entre Poza Rica A y Saltillo, ganando el de casa para quedarse con el primer lugar del torneo, el segundo lugar fue para Saltillo y el tercer lugar quedo en manos de Morelos Azul.

Por otro lado, Morelos Rojo dirigido por Josué Rojas Cuevas, cerró su participación con dos ganados y dos perdidos; propinándoles su segunda derrota (retirándolos del torneo, doble eliminación) a dos novenas veracruzanas, Papantla y Poza Rica B; y cayendo contra Saltillo Coahuila y Poza Rica A. En el formato del torneo que fue doble eliminación, el orden en que se obtienen los triunfos es importante, el ganar las primeras dos rondas premia a un equipo poniéndolo automáticamente en semifinales (fue el caso de Morelos Azul mencionado antes). Por lo cual (y por sorteo) Morelos Rojo enfrentó temprano a Saltillo con quien perdió, y quedo muy comprometido, obligado a jugar juegos extras para regresar; no obstante, estando contra la pared saco la bravura necesaria para vencer en sus dos siguientes partidos; ya en la cuarta ronda, en el juego para alcanzar la segunda y última semifinal, llegó sin pitcheo, llevando a la loma lanzadores de emergencia, y perdió de cara al sol, aplicándosele la doble eliminación, quedando hasta ahí su participación. Cabe mencionar que Morelos rojo se constituyó en mayoría con aportación del equipo Diablos Yautepec: Samuel Herrera Ballinas, Erick Ulloa, Fabian Varela, Manuel Fernández, Gerardo Avilez, Gael Rojas y Rodrigo López.  
Que más se puede pedir de los equipos Morelenses, que pusieron en alto el nombre de nuestro estado; al respecto Robb Anderson, manager del equipo Azul, comentó que a pesar de que se tocaron las puertas del Instituto del Deporte y de otras instituciones de gobierno en busca de apoyo, nada se obtuvo y como siempre, se salió adelante con el esfuerzo de los propios padres, sacando la garra en representación de nuestro estado, que dicho sea de paso, no tiene tradición en el Béisbol. Este torneo de Poza Rica, de hecho debió ser en Morelos, la propuesta de hacer el torneo nació aquí, y también el cabildeo para reunir los equipos, pero desafortunadamente no contamos con un complejo deportivo propio, tenemos que jugar en campos de futbol, o ponernos en lista para usar los pocos campos de beisbol que existen y que no tienen las medidas adecuadas.
Los pitchers por Morelos Azul (primera ronda) contra Cerro Azul Veracruz (ganado por Morelos, 12-2) fueron: abridor Jesús Santos (durante una entrada), con relevo de Julián Martínez Zagal (tres entradas) y Efraín Santaolalla Mendoza (dos entradas) quien salió al cumplir sus 20 lanzamientos para estar disponible para siguiente día; el cerrador del juego fue Emilio Rivera González, con la peculiaridad de que entró a sacar el último OUT del juego, con cuenta de dos Strikes del bateador Veracruzano y lo liquidó con un solo lanzamiento; el pitcher ganador fue Julián Martínez Zagal.
El juego contra Poza Rica B (segunda ronda) que llevó a Morelos Azul a semifinales se complicó, ganándose al final 12-11; el pitcher abridor fue Emilio Rivera González lanzando 4 entradas, con relevo de Alexis Iván González Rosales durante una entrada y Roberto Pérez Santos cerrando el sexto y último rollo; el pitcher ganador fue Emilio Rivera González.
La primer semifinal de Morelos Azul contra Saltillo Coahuila, lanzaron Jesús Santos e Iván Alexis González Rosales, siendo el último el pitcher perdedor. Este juego se perdió 6-5 y fue muy doloroso, ya que terminado medio partido (tres entradas) Morelos controlaba al equipo Norteño 5-0, en la cuarta entrada Morelos no pudo anotar dejando casa llena y ponche a su cuarto bat; luego bateando Saltillo, se desencadenaron los errores en la defensa Tlahuica, con tiros malos a Home y tercera; el juego se perdió y la oportunidad y la gloria de estar en la final en solo tres rondas, ese privilegio lo tuvo Saltillo. Otra vez se pagó la cuota de que nuestros niños provengan de municipios diversos y no tengan suficientes recursos para entrenar juntos las suficientes ocasiones, con lo cual estos detalles serian fácilmente corregibles.
La segunda semifinal que pudo acceder Morelos Azul al tener apenas un descalabro, fue contra la poderosa novena de Poza Rica A , conformada con mayoría de niños 2002 , que se perdió 15-5. Los pitchers por Morelos fueron Yahir Rosales Aviles, quien salió relevado en la misma primer entrada, Roberto Pérez quien estuvo lanzando dos entradas y Efraín Santaolalla fue el cerrador, siendo el pitcher perdedor Roberto Pérez Santos.
Los catchers del torneo para Morelos, fueron Sebastián Muñoz Rosas y Miguel Angel Medina Flores. Mención honorifica a Tlaloc Melo quien por primera vez nos acompaña en un torneo en otro estado y quien atrapó elevado en el jardín derecho. Andre Medina Flores, de apenas 8 años cumplidos también alineo por Morelos Azul.
Para terminar, un aspecto destacable en Morelos Azul fue la paciencia en el plato y buen bateo, que condujo a que seis de los doce  niños tuvieron promedios de bateo impresionantemente altos: Sebastián Muñoz Rosas con 600 de porcentaje, Roberto Pérez Santos con 538, Alexis Iván González Rosales 500, Emilio Rivera con 500,  Matías Anderson con 500 y Efraín Santaolalla con 429. Para entender esto, en la edad de 9-10 años, un promedio de 350 es aceptablemente bueno y 400 es muy bueno, cualquier promedio arriba de 500 es un promedio excelente, maravillosamente alto. La ofensiva de los niños de Morelos Little League siempre se ha caracterizado  por ser fuerte.

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World Baseball Classic, Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico

Chinelos de Tepoztlan present at World Baseball Classic in Miami 2013

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Se lucen pequeños beisbolistas en la copa IMSS

Por Rolando Becerril Ayala, La Union de Morelos, 7 de Noviembre, 2012

Ganaron terceros lugares en las categorías 9-10 años y 11-12 años.

Los pequeños beisbolistas del estado de Morelos lucieron ganando sus juegos y trayendo terceros lugares en las dos categorías, 9-10 años y 11-12 años, quienes habían calificado a ronda de finales en la copa IMSS del Distrito Federal. La 11-12 ganó a Lindavista con marcador 4-0, mientras que la 9-10 años marcó un record en enfrentamientos de Morelos contra equipos capitalinos, al aplicarle al equipo de Lindavista un súper knockout.

El marcador fue 15-0, que además contó como juego sin hit ni carreras. Este juego marcaba 11 carreras contra 0 al termino de la segunda entrada, con bateo poderoso de Efraín Santaolalla, Julián Martínez, Gael Rojas, Yahir Rosales, Sebastián Muñoz, Francisco Martínez y Diego Rivas, este último poniendo la bola a centímetros de marcar un home run.

El pitcher morelense abridor Jesús Santos en dos entradas solo permitió llegar a un jugador de Lindavista a la inicial, en una base por bola; en la tercera entrada Jesús fue relevado por Emilio Rivera, ponchando al primero que enfrento, enbasándose el siguiente con error del segunda base (se marca error, no hit) y así, con corredor en primera, se acomodaban las piezas para la doble matanza que vendría, cuando el tercer turno de Lindavista.

Conectaba batazo que tomaba de botepronto el tercera base de Morelos, Diego Rivas, la ponía en el guante del segunda base Julián Martínez para el primer OUT y este, reaccionando oportuno, lanzando a primera, donde Yahir Rosales completaba el bonito doble play, para venir con esto Morelos al bat, para cerrar la tercera entrada.

Es aquí cuando al marcar Morelos la carrera 15, con solo un out, el juego es detenido por el Umpire, decretando el súper knockout; en un juego a 7 entradas un knockout es marcado cuando hay diferencia de 10 carreras después de la cuarta entrada, sin embargo si del inicio del juego a la tercera entrada hay una diferencia de 15 carreras, es aplicado el mencionado súper knockout. Este juego tuvo también la particularidad de que fue transcurrió sin hit ni carreras, dado que solo dos bateadores de Lindavista llegaron a bases, pero ocurrió por base por bola el primero, y por error el segundo.

Este equipo morelense tenia todo para acceder a la final, lo demostraron de sobra en sus juegos, pero desafortunadamente el formato de esta copa IMSS para la categoría 9-10 no lo permitió, ya que no se marcaron semifinales, y Morelos al pasar como segundo del grupo A, solo pudo pelear por el tercer lugar; mientras que la final la jugo la Maya contra la Anáhuac, en pase directo, por quedar punteros de grupo.

Vale la pena mencionar que Morelos 9-10 años cerró en su grupo con 3 ganados y un perdido; quien le ganó fue justamente Anáhuac, quien a la postre perdería la final, ganando el torneo la Liga Maya.

Este torneo sirvió además para evaluar el desempeño de nuestros pequeños peloteros que representarán a nuestra entidad en la Olimpiada Nacional, que se desarrollará en los primeros meses del año 2013. En este evento, se acude a una primera competencia regional con las selecciones de Morelos a partir de la 11-12 años.

No obstante, el manager Robb Anderson, quien dirigió a la 9-10 años en la emocionante historia mencionada anteriormente, pedirá apoyo al Instituto del Deporte y Cultura Física del Estado de Morelos, para que en este 2013 apoye a estas pequeñas promesas; que de otorgárseles el recurso económico, podrían ir de manera automática a la Olimpiada Nacional, ya que en categorías inferiores a la 11-12,, los estados acuden por invitación, con pase directo.

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Practica de Chinelos de Tepoztlan con entrenador de la Republica Dominicana, Argenis Percel #chinelosbeisbol

Practica de Chinelos de Tepoztlan con entrenador de la Republica Dominicana, Argenis Percel #chinelosbeisbol (Taken with Instagram at campo deportivo santo domingo)

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Morelos category 9-10 wins in dramatic fashion to advance to finals copa IMSS. Gana Morelos categoria 9-10 en estilo dramatico para avanzar al finales copa imss. #chinelosbeisbol #morelosllb

Morelos category 9-10 wins in dramatic fashion to advance to finals copa IMSS. Gana Morelos categoria 9-10 en estilo dramatico para avanzar al finales copa imss. #chinelosbeisbol #morelosllb (Taken with Instagram at Liga De Baseball Anahuac!)

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Participación del estado de Morelos en el torneo IMSS en Liga Anáhuac DF #chinelosbeisbol #morelosllb

Participación del estado de Morelos en el torneo IMSS en Liga Anáhuac DF #chinelosbeisbol #morelosllb (Taken with Instagram at Liga De Baseball Anahuac!)

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