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SPECIAL REPORT: A different kind of baseball

Some of the world's best baseball is played just south of the border with local and big-time names looking to catch the eyes of Major League Baseball

MEXICALI, Mexico (KYMA, KECY) - During the winter months, baseball is alive and well just south of the border in Mexicali.

The Mexican Pacific League runs typically from October through January. Eight teams along the Pacific Coast play close to 70 games during the season followed by league playoffs. It's a league some say is overlooked.

"It’s a little bit aggressive baseball but it's still good baseball, they have great players out here," Former major leaguer Kennys Vargas said. "I’ve never felt so much pressure until I got to Mexico, it’s like I need to hit no matter what."

"It’s a winning baseball," Gila Ridge grad and former major leaguer Irving Lopez said. "You want to win no matter what. It doesn’t matter what you do in the game as long as you win."

"They [fans] take it personally," Vargas said. "Out here it's more like you gotta do it right now."

On a good day, the Mexican League is comparable to the major league's AAA level, on a bad day, AA.  

"Of course, everyone wants to play in the big leagues but it’s a start," San Luis grad Hernan Yanez said.

It's also a chance for baseball fans across the desert southwest, to watch local superstars while catching a glimpse of some potential or former major league players.

"I think the most important thing for me is kids can see from the Imperial Valley, the small towns that, you know, you can do something with sports," Brawley grad and former major leaguer Jake Sanchez said. "What can I say, it’s a blessing, it’s a blessing we get to do this."

Some famous former major leaguers who played for Mexicali include Jeff Samardzija, Fernando Valenzuela, John Kruk, Sergio Romo, and Rudy Seanez.

Other notable players who played in the Mexican league include Roberto Alomar, Ricky Henderson, Tony Gwynn, Pete Rose, and Jim Rice.

Big plans are in the works for the Aguilas and the city of Mexicali next spring as they prepare to host the 2025 Caribbean World Series. 

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Scott Gross

Scott Gross joins the KYMA team as the Anchor, CBS Sports Director, and Executive Producer.

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