By Kevin Goldstein
January 27, 2003
When the Gigantes topped Licey 8-6 Monday night to avoid a four-game sweep in the Dominican League championship, result not only provided a sudden uncertainty to the series’ outcome, but added a nervous air to tonight’s game in light of a two-day national strike scheduled to begin Wednesday. There will be no games played on those days, and it is generally believed that the strike should not affect the Caribbean Series, scheduled to begin Sunday in the capital city, Santo Domingo.
National strikes of this kind are not uncommon in the Dominican Republic, and with union-based public transportation firms not working in a country where few own their own vehicles, the entire nation is expected to come to a standstill for two days.
League officials already had to push the beginning of the league championship series back one day in order to get five straight games in before the strike begins in the hopes highly favored Licey could end the season before the work stoppage. If the Gigantes are able to force a series extension with a victory tonight, the league would hope to play a game Friday night, and a Game Seven on Saturday would leave the champions with no rest for the Caribbean Series.
“The economic system is in a very bad state,” said Carlos Lugo, play-by-play man for the Estrellas Orientales, who resides in San Pedro de Macoris. “Our exchange rate with the U.S. dollar has tripled in the last year, as have gas prices. It’s a financial crisis.”
Strike organizers have rejected requests from Caribbean Series organizers to delay the strike while the eyes of the baseball world are focused on the Dominican. Series organizers fear a repeat of the Nov. 11 national strike in which hundreds were arrested, 34 were wounded and nine killed as police clashed with protesters.
“The strike is inevitable. The one thing everyone hopes is that there is no escalation of violence,” Lugo added.