Ozzie Guillen finds himself back in the playoffs – well, in a different format.
In case you’re unaware, former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has been coaching the Tiburones de La Guaira in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League this winter. This evening, Los Tiburones were crowned the champions of the Venezuelan winter league, and as a result, will be representing Venezuela in the 2024 Caribbean Series – an annual Latin American club tournament.
This tournament was created by Venezuelan baseball entrepreneur Pablo Morales and Oscar Prieto Ortiz, who devised the idea after seeing the success of the now-extinct Serie Interamericana in 1946, which featured the clubs Brooklyn Bushwicks from the United States, Cervecería Caracas from Venezuela, Sultanes de Monterrey from Mexico, and an All-Star team composed of Cuban players. The tournament features the champions of the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela, and has been around for over 40 years.
For most players, the winter leagues are a time to continue to get work in over the offseason. This year’s Tiburones team features players such as Ronald Acuna Jr, Gregory Infante, Ehire Adrianza, Franklin Barreto, Oswaldo Cabrera, Alcides Escobar, and Maikel Garcia – all players with either current or former Major League experience. The team features Guillen as their manager, as well as Carlos Zambrano as their pitching coach and Endy Chavez as their first base coach. So, there are plenty of former and current big leagues represented on the club.
Guillen was clearly emotional about the accomplishment – one that ended a 38-year streak of seasons in which Los Tiburones did not finish as the Venezuelan league champion. In a postgame interview, Guillen stated he feels “more proud” of this accomplishment than when he won the 2005 World Series with the White Sox.
Before White Sox fans get too upset over this – baseball certainly means more when a player or manager can represent their own country. This is no different in Guillen’s case – the top of the American baseball world is a bit different than the top of the Venezuelan baseball world when you are from that country.
This edition of the Caribbean Series will have seven teams. There will be the champions of the tournaments from countries that make up the Caribbean Professional Baseball Confederation: Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Panama. In addition, additional invitations were extended to Curaçao and Nicaragua. Guillen will be looking to take down the Tigres del Licey, the Dominican Republic representative who won their 11th Caribbean Series crown in 2023.
The series begins at LoanDepot Park in Miami on Thursday, February 1. This will be the first Caribbean Series that takes place in the United States.
Congratulations to Ozzie Guillen and Los Tiburones – and best of luck in the 2024 Caribbean Series!
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Featured Image: @GuillensWorld / Twitter