CARACAS – The Venezuelan Professional Baseball League kicks off this Saturday, with a more traditional format than the one adopted in the previous season due to the pandemic. And the Caribes de Anzoátegui, who won their fourth crown in that anomalous season, are listed as favorites to repeat.
From the beginning of the championship, the Venezuelan authorities will allow a capacity of 40% in the stadiums, the League reported. The last regular season began without an audience and as the infections remained low, a reduced number of audience of up to 30% was allowed.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has advanced that the capacity could eventually be increased to 60%.
Also, last season was played under a two-division format, adopted to reduce transfers between the different states. Likewise, the venues were limited to five for the eight teams.
This time, the format of all against all in the campaign returns. The Caribs, as well as the Lions of Caracas, Tiburones de la Guaira, Bravos de Margarita, Cardenales de Lara, Navegantes del Magallanes, Tigres de Aragua and Águilas de Zulia, will play a series of seven games in the elimination round.
With the exception of the Margarita Braves, all teams will see action in their host cities. Los Bravos, for logistical reasons, will not play on the tourist island of Margarita, but will share with the Sharks their headquarters in the coastal state of La Guaira, north of Caracas, the League indicated.
Biosecurity measures are maintained, and include the mandatory use of a mask, distancing one seat per person in the stands, as well as disinfection and temperature control when entering the stadiums, declared the Minister of Sport, Mervin Maldonado .
Maldonado has said that 100% of the players, as well as the coaching staff and the rest of the club workers will be vaccinated and COVID-19 diagnostic tests will be carried out regularly.
Evaluations will be carried out every week to determine if it is necessary to adjust any procedure or “expand the percentage of fans,” Maldonado said recently.
Venezuela, in quarantine since March 16, 2020, officially counts more than 397,000 positive cases for COVID-19 and 4,775 deaths.
The Maduro government and the eight teams “have made an enormous effort to articulate the 2021-2022 season,” Liga president Giuseppe Palmisano told reporters. The regular season consists of 49 games, nine more per team compared to last tournament. Before the pandemic, the elimination round was 63 games.
“In the postseason we will return to Round Robin,” the free-for-all format, with five teams ranked – the top two from each division and the best third – and 16 games for each. “It is a successful format, which the fans have always liked and whose return has been insistently requested.”
The Final Series will be played as usual for a maximum of seven games, in that case just two days before the start of the next Caribbean Series that will be played in the capital of the Dominican Republic from January 28, 2022.
Tigres and Navegantes will have six “imported” players on their roster, twice as many as the rest of their rivals, as compensation for the damage caused by the sanctions imposed by the administration of then US President Donald Trump, which blocks the participation of players. affiliated with the majors in those novenas.
The Office for the Control of Foreign Assets of the Treasury Department (OFAC, for its acronym in English) considers that the Navigators and the Tigers have ties with the socialist government of Maduro. Both teams have the legal status of foundations attached to the governments of the states of Carabobo and Aragua, which are currently in the hands of government allies.
The sanctions, which include freezing the assets of the Venezuelan government in the United States, prohibit Americans and related foreign companies from doing business with the Venezuelan government, their family members, or those who have business ties with companies or government officials.
Most teams will start with several of their figures, including Triple-A players in organized baseball in the United States and a few other major leaguers.
Caribes, among other teams, will gradually have a good part of their players in the majors; Among those who stand out Rafael Ortega (Chicago Cubs), Asdrúbal Cabrera (Cincinnati Reds), Víctor Reyes (Detroit Tigers), Orlando Arcia (Atlanta Braves) and Williams Astudillo (Minnesota Twins), their management reported.
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Venezuela: LVBP begins with capacity of 40%