Cheer Up, Cuba

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Last night the Cuban National team fell victim to the stellar arms and intricate flag of the Japanese. This means they'll miss the finals of a competitive baseball tournament for the first time since 1959. It is not news that baseball is a huge point of national pride in Cuba, and Alan Schwarz of the New York Times tried to capture the mood in the Cuban dugout yesterday as the present finally caught up to the past.

As Cuba's beaten ballplayers stood quietly on the top step of their dugout, fully aware of their World Baseball Classic life ticking away, you could almost see the ghosts of the national team's legendary past standing behind them. They emerged from the fog like White Sox out of a cornfield.

"They were much better than us," Cuba Manager Higinio VĂ©lez conceded graciously in a statement afterward. He added: "They do deserve to go on to the finals. So the only thing left for us to do is to continue to fight for our great game, baseball."

Fidel Castro, or a capable ghostwriter, spoke of the possibility of Cuba losing in the semifinals in his national newspaper column this week. While he actually provided some trenchant baseball analysis it was mostly a screed against the capitalist nations that run the WBC and set up the brackets to stack the deck against the most talented foreign teams.

The three best teams in the Classics and the Olympics, namely Japan, Korea and Cuba, were included in the same group so that they had to eliminate each other. Last time we were included in the Latin American group; this time we were included in the Asian group.

That is why in between today and tomorrow in San Diego one of the three teams will be irremissibly eliminated without having to compete first with the team of the United States, the country of the "Big Leagues". That means that, next, two of those three will be left out. We are forced to wage our battle and design a strategy in the face of those vicissitudes.

Perhaps this was the case but more than anything what Castro's excuses say to me is that an entire country had a lot of emotional capital invested in this tournament. The government needed to reassure it's populace about baseball in the way that other nations have to do the same for foreign threats, or the economy.

It wouldn't have been any easier for the Japanese to take elimination. But one would think that by comparing the day to day lives of it's citizens and their prospects, baseball is a more important diversion in Cuba. Again this is all American conjecture but Cuba's loss and the emotional impact it is likely having on the Island shines a different light on the World Baseball Classic. Today is a day that the landscape of international baseball changed, and the citizens of Cuba probably weren't ready for it.


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12 Comments

Fidel is just upset because he promise Hugo that they'd share a luxury box at Dodger Stadium with the fat greasy man (Lasorda).

It almost makes you feel bad for the murdering sociopathic dictator.

Shouldn't Fidel be dead by now, maybe this loss will kill him.

@UU
Let's hope.

This is sadder than when Andruw Jones ran out of plantains

But after Fidel dies, then it's just Raul. Then after Raul it's Harpo, Billy and Alec.

Billy Castro is hi-larious.

Stephen is the funny one

I dunno, Fidel is pretty good with pratfalls.

And, doesn't Alec Castro play a dastardly jefe on a telenovela?

Meh. I think baseball has become a true international game where you won't see one country dominate for years and years anymore buuuuut Fidel does have a point.

Cuba would have smashed the U.S.

That pool was STACKED.

As the only WoW commenter who has been to Cuba, I can say confidently that there are zero statues of the Baldwin brothers in Havana.

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