Excited for the Liga Mexicana del Pacífico is more like it!
Last week, I decided I wanted to see how the Hermosillo baseball team was doing. The Naranjeros (which I've seen translated as the orange growers and orange pickers. Can I get an official ruling on this?) are like the Yankees of the Mexican Pacific League winning 15 titles since the league was formed in 1957.
Not knowing Spanish made it difficult to navigate their home page, but it led me to learn more about the league they've been dominating. And after a while, I also discovered they won the league championship in the end of January.
The Liga Mexicana del Pacífico (LMP) is the premier winter league of Mexican baseball, and some current and former MLB players take part in the league. For example, the Naranjeros' starting third basemen is former MLB two-time All-Star Vinny Castilla and coming out of the bullpen is current Mets' reliever, and Hermosillo native, Elmer Dessens.
The LMP winner then represents Mexico in the four-country Caribbean Baseball World Series, which includes the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, which hosted this year's event. The tournament is a double-round robin, and the Naranjeros finished third, beating Venezuela twice but losing to the other two countries each time.
Aside from the thrill of getting to cheer for a team that is playing to represent Mexico in the Caribbean Series, apparently LMP games are like minor league games complete with cheap tickets, interesting mascots and a general county fair-like atmosphere.
Let's look at the competition. Three other mascots in the league are the Sugarcane Pickers (Los Mochis), Tomato Pickers (Culiacán) and Cotton Pickers (Guasave). I particularly love the Cotton Picker logo, but for obvious reasons, this mascot would never fly in the United States. And before you laugh at these teams' expense, remember in the MLB, we have the Red and White Sox, and the Reds, who formerly were the Red Legs. (And yes, that is cotton ball holding a flaming baseball...what's not to love about that?)
I also love the Tomato Pickers' Web site, but it might not be appropriate for viewing in the office because it plays music. But you can't visit this Web site and not get excited about LMP games. If you watch the scrolling pictures at the top, those are cheerleaders you see. Kind of gives a new meaning to fantasy baseball. (Nerd note: If there is an LMP fantasy baseball league, someone please contact me and reserve a spot for me. I'm all over it.) Also have to enjoy the last song snippet they play is about five seconds of Black Eyed Peas.
To win the LMP, the Naranjeros had to knock out the regular season champs, Deer (Mazatlán). The remaining three teams comprise two indigenous peoples, the Mayos (Navojoa) and Yaquis (Obregon), and the Eagles (Mexicali). Though it is a bit confusing because the Sugarcane Pickers also use an eagle as their mascot, too.
I also love that their jerseys sport sponsors like NASCAR uniforms do. Even better, one of the Naranjeros' sponsors is Tecate beer. I had planned on adopting Dos Equis as my Mexican cerveza of choice, but unless I gag on Tecate, this beer has bought my loyalty. Sorry Dos Equis guy, but I still love your commercials. (He speaks fluent French, in Russian.)
No doubt, I will try to make it to every home game, which is probably like 30-40 games. Are season tickets an option? I'm legitimately excited about the baseball south of the border!