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“JUGAR A LA PELOTA!” LIGA OPENS 2021 SEASON
The Mexican League played its first regular games since September 2019 over the weekend, starting last Thursday night when defending champion Monclova bopped visiting Monterrey, 9-3, behind the arm of Bartolo Colon and the bats of Erick Aybar and Chris Carter. Colon, the American League's 2005 Cy Young Award winner, tossed five innings for the Acereros, throwing 91 pitches (57 for strikes) while giving up one earned run on five hits before being replaced by Zach Phillips in the sixth frame.
Despite allowing a solo homer by Sultanes centerfielder Jose Cardona to lead off the top of the third, Colon (who turns 48 on Monday) pitched well enough to earn the win in the first game of the 2021 LMB season. After the contest the 21-year MLB veteran said, “The hills are old but they still turn green.” Aybar aided the Monclova cause with three hits and an RBI while Carter (who led the Liga with 49 homers in 2019) socked a solo blast.
The rest of the LMB swung into action Friday with a full slate of games. One of them, the Dos Laredos Tecolotes opening series against Tijuana had to be shifted from Nuevo Laredo's La Junta Park across the border to Texas' Laredo Ballpark after a rainstorm with winds topping 90 MPH swept through the Mexican border city last Monday, causing flooding and electrical problems. The Toros ended up winning Friday night's opener, 8-3, behind homers by Peter O'Brien and Leandro Castro while Balbino Fuenmayor launched a roundtripper for the Tecos.
Among Friday's other LMB lid-lifters, Adrian Gonzalez drove in five runs as the expansion Guadalajara Mariachis topped the Durango Generales, 12-3; Roberto Osuna tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning to seal the Mexico City Diablos' 8-4 triumph over visiting Veracruz at Estadio Alfredo Harp Helu; Henry Urrutia went 4-for-5, driving in two runs and scoring twice as Saltillo overwhelmed Aguascalientes, 10-2; Michael Choice collected four hits and two runs as every Laguna batsman had at least one hit in the Algodoneros' 15-7 triumph over Leon in Torreon; Puebla clobbered Oaxaca, 16-9, as David Olmedo-Barrera and Danny Ortiz combined for six RBIs as the Pericos posted 19 hits on the night; and Tabasco slipped past Quintana Roo, 2-1, in 12 innings at Villahermosa on Jovan Rosa's walkoff RBI single. The entire Campeche-Yucatan series in Campeche was rained out.
Following Sunday's games, four LMB North teams ended the weekend without a loss. Monclova, Guadalajara and Laguna are all 3-0 as of Monday morning while Tijuana is 2-0. Conversely, Monterrey, Durango and Leon show 0-3 records and Dos Laredos is 0-2.
LMB LAUNCHES JONRON TV, EXPECTS UP TO 10K SUBSCRIBERS
The Mexican League unveiled another facet of their expanded digital presence for the 2021 season last week when they unveiled their new Jonron TV, from which subscriptions to view LMB games this year are now available. Proceso's Beatriz Pereyra filed this translated report:
The Mexican League announced the implementation of its channel for subscribers from the season which will allow it to generate revenues of between 50 million and 100 million pesos during the next three years.
At a press conference, the president of the LMB, Horacio de la Vega, presented Jonrón TV, a platform to which fans will be able to subscribe for 449 pesos (with a discount) and 549 pesos, regular price, per season.
According to their estimates for the 2021 campaign, they expect between 5,000 and 10,000 people to subscribe, a figure that by 2024 should increase substantially.
“Other platforms have between 50 thousand and 100 thousand subscribers. Our goal is that in three years we'll have between 50 and 100 million pesos of profits. There is a free pre-registration on Jonrón TV for people to experience,” de la Vega explained.
Likewise, de la Vega said that the names of two other television channels where LMB games will be broadcast will be announced shortly, and that they will join ESPN, Channel 11, Multimedios and Azteca Digital: “On all these platforms we will reach more than 32 million homes on open television and another 20 million on pay television models where the 594 games of the regular season plus the playoffs can be seen.
“We are going to have four or five times more income from the sale of television rights than in 2019 and since the agreements we signed are for more than three years for the most part, almost all of them have an increasing scale so that they are more productive until reaching 40% more than what we generate right now,” he explained.
According to LMB figures, in 2019, five million people attended LMB games at a baseball stadium and the league has 4.9 million followers on social media.
“We will reach more than 30 million people on the different platforms. If you don't see baseball, we are not going to grow in fans. We have to position our stars and carry out a very powerful marketing project,” emphasized de la Vega.
For his part, the director of Marketing and Communications of the LMB, Alberto Guadarrama, asserted that the league's project is aimed at “offering baseball both to traditional audiences and to new generations who have different forms of consumption such as more short videos (highlights) and thus hook these new baseball fans.”
LIDDI DEALT TO MEXICALI IN SIX-PLAYER LMP SWAP
Former MLB infielder Alex Liddi has been sent by the Mazatlan Venados to Mexicali as part of a six-player Mexican Pacific League trade last week. Relief pitcher Felipe Arredondo and first baseman Fernando Diaz were packaged with Liddi to the Aguilas while infielders Hector Hernandez and Alex Valdez went to Mazatlan along with pitcher Juan Pablo Tellez. The 6'4” Liddi (who turns 33 in August) played parts of three seasons for Seattle between 2011 and 2013, batting .208 with six homers and 16 RBIs over 61 MLB games after debuting in the Mariners organization as a 17-year-old in 2006.
Liddi was traded to Baltimore during the 2013 season, starting an eight-year odyssey that saw the native of San Remo, Italy play in four big league minor league systems, Taiwan, Mexico and winterball stints in both the LMP and Puerto Rico. Liddi spent two seasons with Mazatlan, struggling to a .187 average over 39 games with the Venados in 2019-20 after batting .278 with four homers in 63 games the previous season. Last winter, he hit .242 with one homer over 17 games with Manati in Puerto Rico. The only native Italian to play in both MLB and the CPBL, Liddi will play this summer with the Mexican League's Yucatan Leones in Merida, where he now lives year-round.
Arredondo, a 34-year-old righty, is a former Angels minor leaguer who has pitched in the Mexican League since 2011 (currently with Quintana Roo). He pitched briefly for his hometown Culiacan Tomateros in 2010-11 and has pitched for three LMP teams the past two winters. After going 2-0 with a 2.75 ERA for Jalisco last winter, he was traded to Mazatlan during the season and was 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA in two appearances. Diaz is a 19-year-old
Ensenada product who hit .270 with six homers in 54 games for the Cardinals Dominican Summer League rookie team in 2019 before becoming one of the hundreds of victims of MLB's minor league purge last year.
Hernandez is a longtime veteran infielder in both Mexican leagues. The 38-year-old Cosamaloapan product is capable of playing both left side positions as well as second base. He debuted in the LMB with Veracruz and played for Los Mochis that winter. He's gone on to play for nine LMB teams in 15 years, his last two for Yucatan in 2018 and 2019, and has a career .278 batting average over 1,234 games. In the Mex Pac, Hernandez appeared for three clubs in ten winters (the past five for Mexicali). As a utilityman for the Aguilas in 2020-21, he batted .268 in 83 plate appearances during 24 games.
Valdez spent nine years in the Athletics organization and has also played with minor league teams in the Nationals and Red Sox systems. The Dominican corner infielder (who can also play second base) came to the Mexican League in 2011 and has hit .302 with 14 homers in eight seasons, splitting the 2019 campaign between Yucatan, Oaxaca and Mexico City. Valdez is a 13-year veteran of winterball, mostly in the Liga Dominicana. He hit .455 in seven games for the Aguilas 2019-20.
Tellez is a 21-year-old right-hander who was a reliever in the 2019 Latin American Series for the old Xalapa Chileros and is now on the roster of the Mexican League's expansion Veracruz Aguilas.