Andrelton Simmons of Curacao was one of several former Major League Baseball players who appeared in the 2024 Caribbean Series at loanDepot Park in Miami. (Photo Courtesy of the CBPC)
By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network
The 2024 Serie Del Caribe at loanDepotPark in Miami concluded on Friday, with the Tiburones de La Guaira of Venezuela defeating the Tigres del Licey of the Dominican Republic 3-0 in the championship game. The Caribbean Series title is the first in the organization’s 62-year history.
The championship game aside, this year’s edition of the Caribbean Series featured countless exciting moments and surprises on and off the field.
Below are World Baseball Network’s 10 takeaways from the 2024 Caribbean Series.
10. Invitees Can Compete – The three invitees at the 2024 Caribbean Series were the Curacao Suns from Curacao, the Federales de Chiriquí from Panama, and Nicaragua. Curacao and Panama qualified for the semifinals, while Nicaragua did not win a game during the tournament. However, Nicaragua was competitive in five of their six games. They were no-hit by Angel Padron against Venezuela on Wednesday, and the question remains if they will be invited back for next year’s Caribbean Series in Mexicali, Mexico. Panama and Curacao have proved they belong at the event, each finishing just two wins away from a title.
9. A Strong Bullpen is a Must – Aside from Angel Padron, who threw just 88 pitches in his no-hitter against Nicaragua, most starting pitchers in the tournament rarely saw the sixth inning. The Dominican Republic and Venezuela used five pitchers each in the championship game, and the most reliable pitchers often came from the bullpen. Arnaldo Hernandez, who recorded the last out of the championship game for the Tiburones de La Guaira, allowed just one earned run in six appearances as the lockdown closer.
8. Fans Bring the Energy – Numerous times throughout the tournament, the crowd made so much noise it became hard to think. Home runs and diving catches generate the most crowd noise when attending a Major League Baseball game, but the fans at loanDepotPark, largely a Latin American crowd, banged drums and blew horns for a walk, or when the left fielder caught an easy fly ball. The stadium roof was closed for most of the tournament, creating a louder environment.
7. Fans of MLB Need to Experience a Caribbean Series Game – To fully grasp the energy of a Caribbean Series game, a trip to the stadium is a must. Yes, MLB fans are excited and energetic, but most do not watch the winter leagues… or even know they exist. They would tune in if they knew they could watch competitive baseball in early February.
6. Former MLB Players Can Still Perform – There were an abundance of former MLB players at this year’s Caribbean Series, and they proved they can still perform at a high level. Neftali Feliz, the once-dominant Texas Rangers closer, still throws in the mid-to-high 90s. Curacao’s shortstop, Andrelton Simmons, recently retired from Major League Baseball and made sparkling defensive plays in the infield. The Dominican Republic’s best hitter in the tournament was Robinson Cano, who turned 41 this past October. Cano hit a two-run home run against Puerto Rico on Feb. 3 and was as smooth as ever in the field at second base.
5. México Underperformed- The Naranjeros de Hermosillo of Mexico were expected by many to move on to the semifinals but finished the tournament 2-4. Their most impressive game of the Caribbean Series was a 9-1 win against the Dominican Republic on Feb. 4. Otherwise, a 4-3 loss to Panama after leading 3-1 in the ninth inning was the start of the downhill run. A win against Panama would have kept their semifinal hopes alive, but they coughed up the lead, up by two runs with three outs to go.
4. It’s More Than a Baseball Game – World Baseball Network attended all 25 games of the 2024 Caribbean Series and sat down the first baseline of the championship game. An older woman sitting in front us cried while listening to the Venezuelan national anthem. A few national anthem performers also cried, and the players often prayed before the games started. The players were incredibly proud to represent their teams and countries.
3. A Budding Rivalry – Now that Venezuela and the Dominican Republic have met in the Caribbean Series championship two years in a row, a rivalry is building. Whichever team from LIDOM represents the Dominican Republic next year will seek payback against Venezuela, and it it is the Tigres del Licey, they will look to return to the title game for the third consecutive year.
2. Baseball Stars Want to See More – Throughout the tournament, dozens of current and former professional baseball players attended the games. New York Yankee players Gleyber Torres and Juan Soto were at the championship game, and Venezuelan baseball legend Miguel Cabrera was decked out in Venezuela gear. Other current and former players spotted at the 2024 Caribbean Series were Miami Marlins second baseman Luis Arraez, retired pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, and recently retired designated hitter Nelson Cruz.
1. The Champions Were The Best All-Around Team – Often in baseball, the team with the best record and best players does not win the championship. That was different this year for the Tibuornes de La Guaira in the Caribbean Series. Venezuela’s offense was relentless, scoring five or more runs four times in the tournament. Players like Alcides Escobar and Alexi Amarista used their exceptional contact skills to increase pitch count. Hernan Perez and Ramon Flores had clutch hit after clutch hit in the semifinals and championship.
An extraordinary no-hit performance from Angel Padron against Nicaragua set the tone for the rest of the tournament, and Tiburones manager Ozzie Guillen joined Tommy Lasorda as just the second manager in professional baseball history to win a World Series title and a Caribbean Series championship.