Мексико - ЛМБ

Мексико - ЛМБ

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Wikipedia - Mexican League

The Mexican League (Spanish: Liga Mexicana de Béisbol, LMB, lit.'Mexican League of Baseball') is a professional baseball league based in Mexico and the oldest running professional league in the country.

The league has 18 teams organized in two divisions, North and South. Teams play 114 games each season. Five teams in each division advance to a four-round postseason tournament that culminates in the Serie del Rey, a best-of-seven championship series between the two division champions. The Mexican League has two affiliated minor leagues, the Liga Norte de México and Mexican Academy League.

Though founded in 1925, the league joined the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (Minor League Baseball) in 1955, when it was designated a Double-A league. Some member teams entered player development contracts with teams in the National League at that time. Triple-A classification was granted in 1967. As part of the 2021 reorganization of the minors, the Mexican League was not included as a Triple-A league, though it continues to operate independently.

History

Beginnings of Mexican baseball

Some sources claim that baseball reached Mexican soil because of the US military forces that participated in the US-Mexico War between 1846 and 1848. The last decades of the nineteenth century have been beneficial to the baseball boom, while American companies were investing in various sectors of the Mexican economy and their employees were broadcasting the game. The origin of baseball in Mexico City, the capital, dates back to 1887 with the birth of the "Mexican Club", which is undoubtedly the oldest team of the republic. Since the start of the 20th century, baseball has become one of the favorite sports of all of Mexico.

As early as 1925, Mexicans' interest in baseball was such that sports journalist Alejandro Aguilar Reyes and his friend baseball player Ernesto Carmona founded the Mexican League. They had to overcome many difficult obstacles, especially when, on May 26, the rival Mexican Association prepared a "coup" against them, but managed to rebuff it. In the period since, competing leagues have occasionally been formed, but have been absorbed by the LMB, the most famous being Central League in 1979.

Popularity and growth

The sport's popularity rose immediately and culminated with the first Mexican-born major leaguers.

During the so-called "first stage of the Mexican League" the league attracted several well renowned players from Cuba and the Negro leagues. Cuban ballplayers Martín Di higo, Lázaro Salazar, Brujo Rossell, Agustín Bejerano all played in Mexico at some point. The era was mostly dominated by the teams in the central areas of the country, in and around Mexico City. The first champions were Regimiento 74, a team from Puebla. After that for a solid decade the Championship was only won by teams from the capital city, with Agrario de Mexico and Tigres de Comintra dominating with two titles each. In the late 30s, when the first wave of Cuban players arrived, teams from the Gulf coast started dominating the league; they were more attractive to Cuban players given their proximity to their home island, with the Cafeteros de Cordoba and the Rojos del Águila de Veracruz winning titles.

Because of the late foundation of the league, there never was a "dead-ball" era, which helped enhance the sport's popularity quickly. This along with the fact that it was only played on weekends, which allowed for easy following on a game-to-game basis, helped the sport grow.

22 Major Leaguers move to Mexican League in 1946

In 1946, twenty-two Major Leaguers, including eight members of the New York Giants, moved to the Mexican League.

These moves were motivated by businessman Jorge Pasquel investing more money to raise the profile of the Mexican League and offering contracts which were in some cases higher than American Major League contracts. These moves were also motivated by the anticipation of increased competition from former Major Leaguers who had been serving in World War II and were now returning home.

1949: Landmark ruling of Gardella v. Chandler

The U.S. Supreme Court case held that the baseball leagues and their commissioner are not violating antitrust laws (specifically the Sherman Antitrust Act) when they ban, trade, or otherwise change the playing eligibility of players.

The ruling went untested until the Mexican League was formed. Players who went to play in the Mexican League were blacklisted from Major League Baseball. One such player, Danny Gardella, was blacklisted because MLB claimed he had violated the reserve clause. On the other hand, Gardella's side claimed he had been fired by Giants player-manager Mel Ott during 1946 spring training because of frequent arguments, primarily about his salary.

During 1948, Gardella brought a claim against Commissioner of Baseball Happy Chandler, the National League and American League, as well as their presidents (Ford Frick and Will Harridge, respectively). Gardella charged that they were engaged in interstate commerce because the defendants had made contracts with radio broadcasting and television companies that sent narratives or moving pictures of the games across state lines. MLB then settled with Gardella and offered all Mexican League jumpers amnesty, protecting the ambiguity of the antitrust protection.

In 1949, Gardella won a major appeal against baseball's reserve clause in the federal courts. This successful appeal is recognized as the first major early step towards baseball free agency.

Expansion and MiLB

For most of its existence, the league consisted of six to eight teams. During its first few decades most of the league's teams played around Mexico City and the Gulf Coast. The southernmost team being Veracruz, while the northernmost team being Tampico. Most of Mexico City's teams disappeared in the late '30s, and were replaced by teams all around the country. It wasn't until the 1940s, that the League first reached the northern part of the country with the introduction of the Sultanes de Monterrey. Teams in Nuevo Laredo and Torreon soon followed. The west coast first had a team in 1949 with the emergence of the Charros de Jalisco. It still was a difficult region to gain popularity given the presence of the Mexican Pacific League, an important winter league in the northwest of the country.

The emergence of teams in the north was key in expanding the league's popularity. The north followed baseball closely, because of various aspects that all helped its teams thrive and has been the home of the most consistent teams in the league, with the Saraperos, Sultanes and Acereros not having stopped play in over 40 years. For the Sultanes it even resulted in a Minor League partnership with the Dodgers, and played a major role in the league achieving AAA status with the Minor Leagues. This achievement should be attributed mainly to Anuar Canavati, who is considered one of the greatest Mexican baseball executives along Peralta and Harp. His relationship with MiLB was key in the growth of Mexican baseball.

Southern Mexico has also been a bastion of baseball, with both the Tabasco and Campeche teams enjoying consistent attendance due to the sport's popularity. The league first expanded southward with the introduction of the Olmecas de Tabasco in 1975, which was followed by the Piratas de Campeche in 1980, and the Leones de Yucatán in 1979, after a couple of previous unsuccessful attempts. Although the Yucatán Peninsula teams have consistently existed for 40 years, they have enjoyed little successes in comparison with their northern peers, although these southern teams have won seven titles.

In 1979, the Mexican Central League was absorbed into the expanded LMB. The newly expanded league featured a 20-team circuit with four divisions. However, after a series of team bankruptcies, the Mexican League was reduced to 14 teams in two divisions.

Rule changes and the introduction of playoffs

For the 1970 season teams were divided into geographic zones to lower travel costs, however it was not until three years later that the league introduced a playoff system for the first time. In 1973 the first of what is now called the Serie del Rey was held. The members of each zone have changed frequently as teams have come and gone (particularly for those teams in a central location), but each zone has maintained a core of the northernmost and southernmost teams. In 1974 the League introduced the designated hitter rule.

The 21st century and future expansion

The league has found the stability it lacked in the 90s, and has managed to sustain 16 teams for almost two decades, although some teams have relocated, and attendance has been inconsistent, though has rebounded in the latter part of the 2010s with the opening of new ballparks and greater stability. This led to unanimous approval for expansion to 18 clubs.

Despite having cancelled the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in December 2020, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced the addition of two expansion teams to the league: El Águila de Veracruz and the Mariachis de Guadalajara. The league officially approved the additions on January 26, 2021.