ESPN Deportes and Cultiva Entertainment have reached an agreement that makes the network the exclusive U.S. Spanish-language telecaster of the 2008 Caribbean Series, the 50th anniversary of the round-robin tournament.
Under the deal, terms of which were not disclosed, ESPN Deportes will bring home the action from Santiago, Dominican Republic from Feb. 2-7. For the first time, the 12-game tourney, featuring teams from Mexico, the Dominican Republic (two, as Puerto Rico is not participating this year) and Venezuela, will play out in the same venue: Santiago at Cibao stadium, home to Águilas Cibaeñas, one of the most prolific teams in winter baseball.
In recent years, the Caribbean Series has been televised in the States by Fox Sports en Espanol. However, an ESPN Deportes spokeswoman said the network secured the rights for the 2008 event in large part because it televises more than 50 games from winter leagues in the DR, Mexico and Venezuela. She declined to address the level of ESPN’s rights fee.
Over the years, the tournament has served as a platform to showcase the best winter league action, with the participation of such former Major Leaguers as the late Roberto Clemente, Fernando Valenzuela, David Concepcion and Juan Marichal. Among the current crop of big-leaguers that have honed their skills in winter ball: Minnesota Twins pitcher Johan Santana, New York Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran, New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano and Detroit Tigers, nee Florida Marlins, third baseman Miguel Cabrera.
“The Caribbean Series is the pinnacle of the winter baseball season and is without question considered one of the most popular baseball events among our core audience,” said Lino Garcia, general manager, ESPN Deportes, in a statement. “By adding this property to our roster of winter baseball programming which already includes all the active leagues in the confederation, we seal our coverage of winter baseball with a grand slam.”
“The 2008 Caribbean Series will be celebrating its 50th edition in the Dominican Republic,” added Juan Francisco Puello, commissioner, Caribbean Confederation of Professional Ballplayers. “We take pride in joining forces with a sports leader like ESPN Deportes to bring the celebration home to fans in the United States.”