Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cuba: Baseball and Rumors

Cuba: Baseball and Rumors / Iván García
Ivan Garcia, Translator: JT

If you want to see first hand how the syndrome of secrecy works in Cuba,
visit the office of the commissioner of baseball. Such is the lack of
information, that not even the managers of the teams know for sure the
day and month the new season will start. No one knows what the new
structure will be nor the amount of equipment. Or the number of games
that will be played.

It's all rumors. According to reliable sources, the next National Series
might field 16 teams. One for each province and the municipality of Isla
de la Juventud. They would do away with the Metropolitan team, the
second of the capital, despite being at the bottom of the standings in
the last five years, its exit could cause many talented players to be
without a team.
The amazing thing is that for a couple of weeks, Metropolitan began its
preparation for the upcoming season, as officially no senior official
from the baseball federation has spoken on the subject. In any organized
league, the schedule is known months in advance as is the start date of
the season. Last season, two weeks before opening day the details were
still unknown.

Another absurdity is the transfer of players. In order to respect
territoriality, players must play for their provinces. Only in prominent
cases are they allowed to compete in other teams. It has set up a summer
soap opera with the alleged departure of the excellent player Yulieski
Gourriell from the Sancti Spiritus team. For personal problems,
Yulieski's family decided to settle in Havana.

The All-Star third baseman said in an interview that he intends to play
with the famous Cuban baseball team, the Industriales. But the case was
handled like a top state secret. On September 3rd the suspense ended.
The sports authorities refused Gourriell permission to wear the blue jersey.

In 52 seasons there have been major players moving to different
situations. Most striking was the case of the national team starter,
Antonio Muñoz, who moved from Sancti Spiritus to Cienfuegos.

Or Villa Clara's Alejo O'Reilly who decided to play for Ciego de Avila.
If it's decided to remove Metropolitan, the selection of The
Industrialists would have a team full of stars in the batting, but after
a few years, young talent stagnates if it's not able to play regularly.
It happens that the current structure of Cuban baseball has a pronounced
slump. Many youth who complete their category does not have a tournament
where they develop their skills.

Before they competed in a league championship parallel to the local
championship. Now that tournament disappeared. In the last 12 years
Cuban baseball has seen its quality fall into a tailspin. The causes are
known. The principal is the departure of about 250 players who have
chosen to play as professionals abroad. Another problem is the outdated
concepts of preparing pitchers and batters.

With just five months to the World Classic III, even the baseball
authorities still are not clear what kind of tournament is going to be
played. In November, the national team will probably stumble a couple of
times with its peer from Taipei, China as a warmup for the Classic.
Ideally, the local season breaks in October. But it is very likely that
due to the stop in Asia the championship will open in late November. If
so, there would be a break in the series to prepare the players who
participate in the Classic III.

If in questions of baseball there is a lack of information and mystery
abounds, what can we expect on important issues like immigration reform
or internet marketing. Cuba is a country of riddles and rumors. Learn to
read between the lines. The press, rather than inform, misinforms. And
those who must make decisions mock the media and citizens. It happens in
everyday life. In politics and in baseball.

Photo: Logos of provincial baseball teams in 2010

Translated by: JT

September 15 2012

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