Despite being in the grips of an economic crisis and statehood tussle, baseball continues to flourish on the island of Puerto Rico. Following Team Rubio’s successes at the World Baseball Classic, the powers that be decided to ride that momentum in the face of instability, announcing on Wednesday that the Puerto Rican professional baseball league will in fact go on this winter.
Five teams will participate in the 2017-2018 season of Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente (LBPRC): the defending champion Criollos de Caguas will be joined by Cangrejeros de Santurce, the Aguadilla Sharks, the Carolina Giants, and the Mayagüez Indians.
The season is set to kick off on November 15th, and will span 40 games for each team until December 30th. With the number of players per team dropping, teams were forced to be very careful when filling out their rosters, trying to assemble the best team possible.
Rivera Cruz was set on having the season go on, because he sees the league as a developmental place for young players to grow and achieve their pelotero dreams. “We will make every effort to carry out the season and reach the Caribbean Series,” the president vowed. “This is a development league for young players and we want them to participate so that they improve their game. [The league] collaborated with the effort, but the team owners are the real heroes” for helping to usher in this new season.
That being said, some changes are coming to the league to lower the financial strain on the teams: a spending limit of $500,000 has been put on each team, with $250,000 of that being used for player payroll.
Although at a disadvantage, there is no lack of confidence throughout the league. The owner of the defending champion Criollos, Raúl Rodríguez, pointed out that despite being the smallest of the Confederation of Professional Baseball in the Caribbean, the LBPRC “is the most competitive.”
Rodríguez has the right to feel that way; after all, his team didn’t just win the LBPRC last season, but also went on to win the Caribbean World Series in Culiacán, Mexico.