2008 Caribbean Series preview

2008 Caribbean Series preview

La Serie Del Caribe means the world to baseball in Latin America so very few think twice when the tournament is erroneously referred to as the Caribbean World Series instead of its correct name, The Caribbean Series.

It is the series of the Caribbean world after all, so technically adding the "world" is not inaccurate.

But by any name or any language, the round-robin translates into a baseball festival and this weekend the party starts in the Dominican Republic city of Santiago on Saturday with four guests of honor: Mexico, Venezuela, and two teams from the Dominican Republic.

Who will be the champion? Ask Mexico and it will say its Obregon Yaquis. Venezuelan's love their Tigres de Aragua's chances to win the tournament and if you are from the Dominican Republic, how can you not expect either the Tigres de Licey or Aguilas Cibaenas to finish 1-2 in the winner's bracket?

This much is certain: The Dominican Republic can't help but look like a champion when the final game is played Feb. 7. The fans win, baseball wins and most important, the country wins in a showcase that is going to be 100-percent Dominicano. Latin America wins; you win, we all win.

What to expect? It's going to be loud at the park. Loud like most have never experienced at a baseball game. Screaming on your very first roller coaster ride kind of loud. Imagine stubbing your toe in the morning, yelping at the top of your lungs and then clapping to your team's chant at the same time. Yes, that loud and everyone will be screaming in unison. If you are planning on talking to the person sitting next to you in the stands during the game, don't bother coming. If you are thinking about bringing or getting to know your date, go to a movie instead.

It's controlled chaos in the stands with a stronger emphasis on chaos and less of an emphasis on control. Fun in the sun will always be emphasized.

There will be flags, noise-makers, food, drink and maybe even a scuffle or two and that's just among the fans who support the same team. Opposing fans are fierce, so if your team has a particular song or cheer, expect it to be playfully mocked if your guys are losing. Expect to playfully mock others if your team is winning.

There will be laughs. There might even be a few tears. But most of all, there will be baseball, star players and the competitive spirit Latin baseball fans exude and the rest of the world has come to appreciate.

Prediction: The winner will be the Dominican Republic. The winning team will be the Aguilas, followed by Licey and Venezuela in third place. Mexico snapped an 11-game losing streak with a win in its finale in the 2007 Caribbean Series, but the country has struggled for years. Venezuela will beat one Dominican team. Which one remains to be seen. This is baseball Latin-American style and in a series that means the world, anything can happen.

Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.