MLB Mexicali Baseball: Long weekends and extended seasons along the border (Part 2)

Photo credit: @AguilasDeMxli

By: Lewis Rubman
SRS Contributor
November 10, 2018

Charros de Jalisco: 0 | 4 | 1
Aguilas de Mexicali: 8 | 14 | 1

MEXICALI, Baja California — Yesterday, I made a mistake. I said that Mike Sánchez had been credited with an unmerited save because when he entered last night’s game, the on=deck hitter didn’t represent the potential tying run. I had forgotten, that it was Rodolfo Aguilar who entered the game in that situation. After giving up a run-scoring single to the only batter he faced, Aguilar left the bases loaded for Sánchez, who did, indeed, began his stint with the potential tying run in the on deck circle.

I also promised to explain the Mexican Pacific League’s method of determining the final standings of its teams. Here goes. From October through December, the teams play a 68 game season, divided equally into two rounds. In each half season, the team with the best won-lost percentage receives eight points; the second, seven; the third, six; the fourth, five; the fifth, four and a half points; the sixth, four points; the seventh, three and a half; and the eighth, three. Then the totals for each half season are added up to determine the teams’ overall positions. The tie breakers for establishing the standings for all the fragments of the season until the participants in the semi-finals have been determined, are in decreasing order of importance, face-to-face won-lost records and the “run-average.” This last figure is computed by multiplying the teams’ total runs scored, multiplying it by 100, and dividing the result by the runs scored against them.

Starting just after New Year’s Day, there are three play-off rounds, each of them best of seven games. In the opening round, the first place team faces the sixth place finisher; the second, the fifth; and the third place team plays the fourth. The teams with the three best records, along with the wild card (called “the best loser”) advance to the semi-finals. The best loser is the one with the most play-off wins. The two tie-breakers are play-off run-average, followed by the place in the over-all regular season standings. For the semi-finals and final series, teams can add to players to their rosters (although one of them can play) from the two eliminated teams. The first seed plays the wild card team and the second and third place teams face each other in a best of seven series to determine the finalists, who then duke it out in another best of seven series. The survivor goes on to the Caribbean Series, which I’ll discuss in tomorrow’s article, the last of this three-part report.

I also promised to continue my brief history of the Aguilas after they left “organized” baseball in 1958. After years of unsuccessful attempts to enter what everyone calls the winter leagues, although almost all of their games are played in the fall, Mexicali was admitted to the Mexican Pacific League in 1976. It took the Eagles a decade to win their first league championship, but that 1985-86 team, with the A’s current minor league defensive coordinator, Juan Navarrete, playing second base and John Kruk in the outfield, went on to win the Caribbean Series. Three of the champions’ four wins came in the last inning. The Aguilas also topped the league in 1988-89, 1999-2000, and 2016-17, but that initial Caribbean victory was the only time they’ve taken home all the marbles. As I mentioned, the 1989 Series took place in Mexicali.

Over the years, many other players known to American fans have taken the field for the Aguilas. Among them are Mike Piazza, Fernando Valenzuela, Jonny Gomes, Rudy Seánez, Jeff Samardzija, Sergio Romo, Dan Serafini, Matt Joyce, David Cortés, Rubén Amaro, Yuniesky Betancourt, Jason Bourgoeois, Adam Rosales, and Ron Washington. Also, great Mexican players, not well known in the states, like Cananea Reyes, Matías Carrillo, and Houston Jiménez also have played for the Mexicali faithful. Some American players have carved out major careers playing in the Mexican League in the summer and the with the Eagles during the fall. Derrick Bell and Oakland born Chris Roberson are among these, as is the belovèd Bubba Smith (pronounced BOObah Esmith in Spanish), who was extremely popular with young fans in the US minor leagues, Korea, Japan, and Mexico. A rotund first baseman, Bubba gave his name to a hot dog stand at the Eagles’ Nest.

Eventually the word Bubba replaced salchica as the local word for that delicacy. Today you can walk into the local supermarket and find the clearly marked Bubbas section.

Tomorrow, I’ll provide a brief overview of the food available and The Nest, now it’s time to report on this evening’s game.

Mexicali even its record at 12-12 and dropped Jalisco below .500 at 11-13 by lambasted the Charros 8-0 at the Eagles’ Nest tonight. Taking a leaf from last night’s book, the Eagles soared to a commanding lead early in the game, this time going ahead 6-0 after two innings. Again, their starting pitcher held this lead as long as he was on the mound. Tonight, it was David Reyes, who held his opponent scoreless of six frames, yielding only three hits and one walk while striking out eight Charros. C.C. Delgado earned the save by pitching three shutout innings, allowing only one hit, an eighth inning double to Kevin Medrano, and striking out four of the 10 batters he faced. Jalisco’s unfortunate starter, Vince Malesky, was touched up for five runs, two of them earned, in one plus innings pitched.

The three unearned runs scored as the result of his own throwing error in the top of the second. A trio of Jalisco relievers held the Eagles to one run each over the remaining seven innings, but the damage was done.

For the second straight night, neither team hit a home run. The Eagles scored on a combination of timely hitting and hustle. Malesky’s fatal error occurred on a sacrifice bunt by Javier Salazar that allowed him to reach second and Ricky Alvarez to score while Ramón Ríos made it to third. David Harris stole a base, and Jason Boureois purloined two.

Tomorrow, we’ll see Mexicali go for the sweep, while Jalisco tries to salvage its honor in the series finale.

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: Amaury Pi-Gonzalez to be on NBC Bay Area’s Comunidad Del Valle

Photo credit:

By staff

Amaury Pi-Gonzalez will be featured during the Comunidad del Valle program on NBC Bay Area (KNTV; CH 3) in English as well as its sister station on Telemundo Bay Area (KSTS; CH 48) in Spanish this Sunday.

Damian Trujillo is the host on this popular weekly program with appearances by talented and influential Latino members. Pi-Gonzalez, who writes for this site, is in his 41st season as a MLB announcer and is currently the Spanish voice for the Oakland A’s.

Amaury has been interviewed about the new Mural of The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame, which he is the vice president of a non-profit organization, at the Club Level entrance of the Oakland Coliseum. This exciting 2018 A’s season adds to his distinguished resume as a sports broadcaster.

Pi-Gonzalez has been considered a pioneer in Spanish sports broadcasts in the Bay Area since his first season with the A’s in the late 1970’s. He has also called games for the Giants, Mariners and Angels on radio as well as television for Fox Sports West. In addition, he has called two Caribbean World Series in the early 2000s as a play-by-play announcer in English for Fox Sports International.

Once the Spanish voice for the Golden State Warriors in the 1990’s, Pi-González has talked about his passion and tutored young Latino students throughout his career. He was also a sports anchor for Telemundo (CH 48) in the Bay Area in the 1990s and Trujillo has known him since those good old days.

Comunidad del Valle will be aired on NBC Bay Area (KNTV; CH 3) this Sunday, September 3 at 9:30 am PDT in English. A Spanish version of the program will be aired on Telemundo Bay Area (KSTS; CH 48) at 8 am PDT this Sunday. But, check your local listings for programming, just to be sure.

Aces eliminated from playoff contention with 107-102 loss to Dallas


Photo credit: Las Vegas Aces

By Shawn McCullough

The Aces fought through the second to the last game of the regular season, but fell short of the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

The Wings got 43 points from center Liz Cambage to beat the Aces 107-102 at the College Park Center in Dallas on Friday.

Forward A’ja Wilson led the Aces with 34 points and seven rebounds, while guard Kayla McBride added a double-double, 16 points and 12 assists.

The Aces led by six points at halftime, but Dallas battled back and later held off Las Vegas down the stretch of the game.

The Aces trail the Wings by one game for the final playoff spot with one game remaining for each team, but since Dallas beat Las Vegas all three times this season, the Wings win the tie breaker in the event the two teams end the season tied.

With the loss, the Aces fell to 14-19 on the season, still improving on an 8-26 record last season.

The Aces will finish the season on Sunday against the Atlanta Dream at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 pm PDT.

Las Vegas Aces –

Game Notes:

  • A’ja Wilson scored in double figures (34) for the 31st straight game.
  • The Aces shot 57.7% from the field.
  • The Aces were out-rebounded 42-25.

Game Starters:

F – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 1 Tamera Young
C – 8 Carolyn Swords
G – 21 Kayla McBride
G – 10 Kelsey Plum

Aces making final playoff push, beat Liberty 85-72

20180815 - A'ja Wilson 14

Photo credit: Shawn McCullough, Sports Radio Service

By Shawn McCullough

Playoffs were not even a thought when the Las Vegas Aces started the season 1-7 as one of the youngest teams in the WNBA.

Now, the Aces control their own destiny in making the WNBA playoffs after an 85-72 win over the New York Liberty at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Wednesday night.

“I told them (the Aces players) at the start of the season that at the end of the season they wanted to be the team that no one wanted to play,” said head coach Bill Laimbeer. “And I think we have accomplished that goal. I think that teams don’t want to play us because we have the capability of scoring a lot of points and move up and down the floor. We’re at the point now that we have a chance (for the playoffs).”

All five of the Aces starters scored in double digits led by forward A’ja Wilson, who dropped 19 points.

The Aces jumped out quickly in the game, building a 31-10 lead after the first quarter, but the Liberty scrapped back throughout the game.

“Players know that they have to play intense for 40 minutes or you let teams back in the game and that’s what happened today,” said Laimbeer. “But at the same time, a win is a win and on to the next game which we all know the importance of, so I think we’re excited and we put ourselves in the position to have a one game shootout.  It’s a big game for us so I guess we have to go win.”

With the Aces and the Dallas Wings tied for the final playoff spot with each having two games left in the regular season, the two teams play on Friday in Dallas in a must win game for the Aces.

“We want to take it one game at a time,” said guard Kayla McBride. “Obviously you know with Dallas we’re tied for 8th place with them right now, so it’s a win or go home game, like a single elimination game and we know that we are going to prepare as best we can, rest up, go to Dallas and go to work.”

If the Aces lose that game, the will be eliminated from playoff contention, due to Dallas holding the tiebreaker after beating the Aces three times in the season.

If the Aces win, Las Vegas will earn a playoff berth with either a win over Atlanta on Sunday or a Dallas loss to Seattle on Sunday.

The Aces final two regular season games:

8/17 – at Dallas
8/19 – vs Atlanta

Las Vegas Aces –

Game Notes:

  • A’ja Wilson scored in double figures (19) in all 31 of her games so far this season.
  • The Aces shot 52.2% from the field while holding New York to 43.1%.
  • 7,159 Aces fans attended the game at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
  • NBA players Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors and Kyle O’Quinn of the Indiana Pacers were in attendance.

Game Starters:

F – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 1 Tamera Young
C – 8 Carolyn Swords
G – 21 Kayla McBride
G – 10 Kelsey Plum

Ellie Mae Classic: Cone runs away with title

Photo credit: @TPCStonebrae

By Jeremy Harness

Trevor Cone had not played very much this year and didn’t have much of a chance to make it the next level of professional golf, at least this year.

But all of that changed after Sunday afternoon’s proceedings, and now he’s one solid tournament showing away from setting foot in the major leagues.

He entered Sunday afternoon with a one-shot lead, and he built on it from that point on. Cone executed his game plan to perfection Sunday afternoon, as his bogey-free round of 64 was plenty good enough to take the title at the Ellie Mae Classic, which was held at Hayward’s TPC Stonebrae.

Cone had only played in eight tournaments in his rookie season on the Tour and started this week way down on the money list, 135th to be exact. He had previously played on the Mackenzie Tour, formerly known as the Canadian Tour. However, this win propelled him all the way to 37th on that list.

He distanced himself on the front nine, running off four birdies, and then adding two more on the back to take the title. He averaged 330 yards off the tee and hit 73 percent of his fairways, which greatly enhances one’s chances to make a good score on a hole. He also 72 percent of his greens in regulation, and when he missed a green, he got up and down for par or better 85 percent of the time, which ranked second in the field.

He also putted extremely well, as he averaged only 1.596 putts per green in regulation, for which he was also second in the field this week.

The top 25 players on the tour’s money list at the end of the season earn the right to play on the PGA Tour next season, and Cone now has a very good chance to do that. There is only one event left in the regular season, and that gets under way on Thursday, and a high finish figures to get him inside that number.

The guys who finished second and third this weekend are now in the top 25. Josh Teater fired a 67 on Sunday to finish four stroked behind the lead and shot up 13 spots to the 13th position on the money list.

Meanwhile, Chris Thompson, a graduate of Kansas University, shot a final-round 64 despite two bogeys to finish in third position at 16-under. With that finish, Thompson also slid into the top 25, jumping 34 spots into the 19th position.

The final tournament of the regular season is the WinCo Foods Portland Open, which will be held at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course in North Plains, Ore.

Aces beat Indiana 92-74, maintain playoff hopes

20180811 - A'ja Wilson 07

Photo credit: Shawn McCullough, Sports Radio Service

By Shawn McCullough

The Las Vegas Aces have not quite given up on playoffs just yet.

The Aces came out laser focused and beat the Indiana Fever 92-74 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday night.

“I think we all knew we needed to get a win and we all came out with great energy,” said forward A’ja Wilson. “The crowd helped us of course, but we were definitely laser focused.”

Wilson scored 19 points and pulled down eight rebounds as point guard Kelsey Plum led the team with 20 points.

“I definitely think that our team was locked in,” said Plum. “We knew that this was a must win game and we knew that we needed to come to play, bring our A game and I was really proud with everyone that we did that.”

The win was big for the Aces’ playoff hopes after losing five straight coming out of the All-Star Break.

Despite the push for the playoffs, head coach Bill Laimbeer is preaching the “one game at a time” approach.

“They (the Aces players) are feeling a little bit of pressure because they were in a position to compete for a playoff spot and I just told them that they weren’t expected to have a chance at the playoffs so there’s no pressure,” said Laimbeer. “Just go out and play basketball and take it one game at a time and that’s what they did tonight”.

With the win, the Aces improved to 13-18 on the season and moved to within 1.5 games of the 8th place Dallas Wings for the final playoff spot.

The Aces have three remaining games in the regular season:

8/15 – vs New York
8/17 – at Dallas
8/19 – vs Atlanta

Las Vegas Aces –

Game Notes:

  • A’ja Wilson scored in double figures (19) in all 31 games so far this season.
  • The Aces shot 46.2% from the field while holding Indiana to just 36.3%.
  • The Aces dominated the Fever on the boards, pulling down 48 rebounds against just 33 for Indiana.
  • 5,213 Aces fans attended the game at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
  • Retired 50-0 boxer Floyd Mayweather was in attendance.

Game Starters:

F – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 1 Tamera Young
C – 8 Carolyn Swords
G – 21 Kayla McBride
G – 10 Kelsey Plum

Ellie Mae Classic: More movement atop the leaderboard

Photo credit: @WebDotComTour

By Jeremy Harness

Steph Curry may be gone, but there is plenty of good stuff to see, particularly from the guys who are fighting for the lead at the Ellie Mae Classic this weekend.

This tournament, which is held at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward and is part of the Tour–the minor-league affiliate of the PGA Tour–will conclude Sunday afternoon and currently features more than a handful of players who have a realistic chance to win.

On top of that leaderboard is Trevor Cone, who fired a four-under round of 66 in Saturday’s third round to take a one-stroke lead with an overall score of 17-under par.

One stroke behind him is Sebastian Cappelen, who had the second-lowest round of the day with a 64, as he recorded seven birdies against only one bogey, which he suffered on the par-four seventh, the hardest hole on the golf course.

Cappelen has immediate company as well. There are two guys that he is tied with at 16-under, and one of them has some PGA Tour experience. Josh Teater, who shot a 68 on Saturday, has been at the next level numerous times, and he is in position to get inside the top-25 on the money list at the end of the season, which would mean that he would a full year on the PGA Tour.

There is a little bit of local flavor, as Cal grad Max Homa is just four strokes behind the lead after he shot 64 in the third round. Just like Cappelen, he birdied seven times and had only one bogey, as he, too, was victimized by the seventh hole.

He also bogeyed the seventh hole on Thursday, whereas Cappelen bogeyed it in Friday’s second round.

Friday’s leader, Alex Purgh, took a backward step while everyone else appears to be moving forward. After an eye-popping round of 60 on Friday, he finished Saturday’s round with a two-over 72, thanks to six bogeys and four birdies.

There is another name that is known locally in Stanford grad Maverick McNealy, who shot a third-round 67 and is tied for 16th with an overall score of 10-under.

Ellie Mae Classic: New leaders come to the top; Steph Curry struggles

Photo credit:

By Jeremy Harness

Friday’s second round saw a ton of movement at the top of the leaderboard, and one player in particular had a chance to touch a bit of history.

Alex Purgh, who is from Spokane, Wash., grabbed a two-stroke lead at the Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic after an eye-popping round, and his 10-under round of 60 was only two shots shy of the tour’s single-round scoring record of 58, which was set by Stephan Jaeger in this tournament two years ago.

Two behind him is Josh Teater, a Lexington, Ky. native who has had numerous stints on the PGA Tour. Teater followed up an opening round of 64 with a round of 62.

Despite being a stroke worse than he was on Thursday, Spaniard Samuel Del Valle didn’t lose too much ground, as his second-round score of 64 put him three shots behind the lead. He is currently tied with Trevor Cone, who also recorded rounds of 63 and 64 for the first two days.

Now here comes the bad news. Let’s all take a moment…

If you waited until the weekend to see Stephen Curry up close and personal at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward, unfortunately you missed your shot.

That’s because unlike what Curry’s used to on the basketball court, the Warriors’ star guard was off target a lot on Friday, and his front nine alone took him out of any chance to make the cut, which was projected at four-under at press time.

After giving himself a fighting chance on Thursday with an opening round of 71, which is good for one-over par, Curry got off on the wrong foot almost immediately. After parring the first hole, Curry bogeyed the par-3 second before the par-5 third ate him alive.

By the time Curry walked off the third green, he was forced to write a nine–a quadruple bogey–on the scorecard. It didn’t get much better on the front nine, as Curry would go on to record a bogey, a double bogey and even a triple bogey to finish the front side 11-over par.

Curry started to piece things together on the back side with a birdie at the 10th and also recorded a birdie at the par-four 14th. However, Curry was plagued with a bogey and a triple in between those birdies, but the damage was already done by this point.

When it was all said and done on Friday, Curry signed a card that read a Friday score of 86, or 16-over par. But looking at this another way, Curry didn’t become a worldwide star and a cultural icon for his golf game.