Eye Witness Report: Niño Destructor

To be honest, it was one of the more boring baseball games I have ever seen.  The normal chaos that is watching Dominican baseball was surprisingly absent.  The stadium was maybe 4/5 empty and the whistles and air-horns were few and far between, the Philly Fanatic looking blue mascot of the Licey Tigres was MIA, and even the cheerleaders with their short shorts and provocative gyrations were no where to be seen.

Instead the ghosts of Redsfest past teed off against el Niño Destructor in a slow moving affair, delayed 30 minutes by a light tropical rain, at least 8 Larussa-esque pitching changes, and not a lot of offense.   Despite arriving to the game red hot, El Niño Destructor, Juan Francisco had a pretty mediocre night at the dish.  In his previous two games, Francisco had connected for a game winning double and then followed it up with a four hit, 3 RBI night that also included his 6th homerun of the season.  You can watch a video of that golf swing blast, complete with play by play in Spanish, here.  Here are the Destructor's stats so far (found on the Gigante's website) through 29 games in the DR winter league:

                                       G    AB   R   H   2B 3B HR  RBI  BB  K   SB    AVG.   OBP

FRANCISCO, JUAN          29  113  15  29   7   1   6    27   11   30   0     .257    .317

So, back to our night of little excitement.  Francisco went 0 for 4, striking out twice in a 4-2 loss to the Licey Tigres.  I think he saw 8 pitches in four at bats and took only one of them.  With a runner on second mid way through the game, he did smoke a ball to the opposite field that was caught by Wily Mo Peña on the warning track with a running over the shoulder grab. Francisco started the night in left field and didn't look spectacular.  His arm is ok (he nearly through out a runner at second from the left field corner) but he flubbed a low blooper that bounced of his glove as he raced over to try and make the running catch on the left field foul line.  It was scored a hit, but the play needs to be made.  Which brings me to the obvious question: is Juan Francisco a realistic candidate for the LF position next year?  What about a Gomes or Balentien/Francisco platoon out there? The defense would be wretched but we might get 30 HR between the two of them.  Is it complicated by the fact that Francisco is a lefty?  What about Dickerson?  I think a DickerDestructor combo would be intimidating at least in name, but they are both left handed hitters.

Now, some Photos...


Francisco waits in the on deck circle before his first at bat where he would ground out on the first pitch.






Don't worry Dunn haters, the Destructor doesn't go down looking.



And Wily Mo is wondering if Jim Bowden is secretly the general manager of the Licey Tigres.



And the most excruciating part of the night was watching the Gigantes pitch around D'Angelo Jimenez... twice.


Finally, big props to the Landestoy family.  The wife of former big leaguer, Rafael Landestoy, will be taking my teaching job when I leave the school where I work to focus solely on community organizing after Christmas.  She is a great person and, due to Rafael's connections with the Licey team, was able to set me up with great seats for the game.  I had a chance to meet Rafael briefly when I picked up the tickets, he seemed like a good person, and hey, a former Red to boot!


Wishing you a great Thanksgiving Friday; spend time with your family, avoid the mall.

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