The History of ESPN Deportes
In July of 2001, ESPN Deportes made its debut as a Spanish sports program created to build awareness of sports around the country to the Spanish community. When the program was introduced, ESPN and MLB began offering Spanish language telecasts for the Home Run Derby and a limited number of Sunday Night Baseball games. Roughly two years later, ESPN Deportes delivered Spanish programming for all Sunday Night Baseball games, including all Sunday Night Football games.
Fast-forwarding to January 7, 2004, ESPN launched ESPN Deportes to provide 24-hour sports with a Spanish broadcast. ESPN Deportes then launched ESPN Deportes Radio in October of 2005, reaching 80% of the United States Hispanic population. ESPN Deportes now covers more than 20 professional sports with highlights, analysis, and live games as a household name.
ESPN Deportes has the exclusive rights to the Caribbean World Series, which kicked off on Sunday, January 31, and will conclude on February 6. Catch sight of the top Latin American teams battle for the Serie del Caribe!
The Cast of the Caribbean Series
The Caribbean Series began in 1949, which has become the most prestigious Latin American Baseball tournament. The six champions of the Colombian Professional Baseball League, Dominican Republic Professional Baseball League, Mexican Pacific League, Panamanian Professional Baseball League, Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente, and Venezuelan Professional Baseball League compete in the widely recognized tournament each February to declare the Caribbean Series Champion.
Caribbean Series Dominance
While the Caribbean Series began in 1949, the Dominican Republic Professional Baseball League was not included in the tournament until 1970. Despite this, the team representing the Dominican Republic has won the tournament on 20 occasions, or 40% of the time. Half of those 20 victories have been won by Tigres del Licey of the Dominican Republic Professional Baseball League (LIDOM), who won most recently in 2008. Tigres del Licey was founded in 1907 and are the most prominent Dominican team in history. The Tigres del Licey have won the LIDOM 22 times, most recently in 2017.
In 2004, the Caribbean Confederation of Professional Baseball finally supported the Colombian Professional Baseball League. However, they could not participate in the Caribbean Series until 2020 because of concerns with the league’s level of play and their baseball facilities’ quality. In 2020, Colombia made their first appearance in the Caribbean Series.
Major League Baseball Represents
The St. Lous Cardinals veteran catcher who has spent his entire 17-year career with the club, Yadier Molina is the featured player on Puerto Rico’s Criollos de Caguas. This marks Molina’s second Caribbean Series, the first coming back in 2007 as a member of Gigantes de Carolina.
The nine-time All-Star catcher has been in the National League Most Valuable Player conversation in consecutive years. He finished 4th in 2012 while hitting 22 home runs, 76 RBI’s while posting a .315 batting average. He followed that season up by finishing 3rd in the 2013 MVP race while hitting 12 home runs, 80 RBIs, and a .319 batting average. The veteran is currently a free agent, though reports indicate he will return to the St. Louis Cardinals for his 18th season in the majors. With the career he’s put together, it’s reasonable to anticipate that Molina will be inducted into the Hall of Fame after he hangs up his cleats.
Way back in 2005, Robinson Cano was the runner up for Rookie of the Year honors while playing with the New York Yankees. Over his 16-year MLB career, Cano has averaged 24 home runs, 94 RBIs while averaging .303. He was also in the MVP conversation for five consecutive years from 2010-2014.
Despite Cano’s accomplishments, he has made the headlines far too often for his part in performance-enhancing drugs. Cano was suspended for 80 games back in 2018 for testing positive for a banned substance, and now with his second positive test, Major League baseball took it one step further and suspended him from the entire 2021 season. Although we will not see Cano suit up for the New York Mets in 2021, he will be a member of Aguilas Cibaenas for the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Series.
Carlos Martinez, the eight-year St. Lous Cardinals veteran and long-time teammate of Yadier Molina, will also be competing in the Caribbean Series. Martinez will team up with Robinson Cano as a member of Aguilas Cibaenas for the Dominican Republic. Martinez has a 162 game average of tossing 155 strikeouts over 158 innings while posting a 3.51 ERA and 1.29 WHIP on his way to a 58-43 record.
Another MLB veteran, Melky Cabrera, played for the Aguilas Cibaenas in the 2020-21 Dominican Winter League. Over 24 games with the Aguilas Cibaenas, Cabrera hit three home runs while driving in 13 RBIs and averaging .302. Melky Cabrera has a 162 game average of 12 home runs, 73 RBIs, and a .285 batting average over his 15-year MLB career that started with the New York Yankees back in 2005.
Named the Caribbean Circuit Pitcher of the Year while playing for the Indios de Mayaguez in the Mexican Baseball League, Luis Medina was lights out this season. Medina was also named to the Puerto Rican League All-Star Game for tossing 32 strikeouts over 16.2 frames. Medina started four games while maintaining a microscopic 0.54 ERA and 0.78 WHIP. While only a small sample size, Medina had a 17.3 strikeout ratio per 9 innings. Medina is the 11th ranked prospect in the New York Yankees organization and expects to appear in the majors sooner rather than later.
Climb on the Bandwagon
Now that you know all you need to know about the tournament, tune in to ESPN Deportes for full coverage of the 2021 Caribbean Series!