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What is the future of baseball in Cuba?

What is the future of baseball in Cuba?

Posted by PanamericanWorld on July 13, 2017

Word on the street has caused uneasiness among managers and trainers, but every day there are less and less ways of avoiding it: Cuban baseball is suffering a crisis and nothing else. Teams involved in international competitions have just proven this in recent days.

The supposedly A-team took part in the Can-Am League, which is Triple-A level (at best), and it left with five wins and 16 setbacks. Afterwards it went on to lose the exhibition series three games to two, against US university students. Meanwhile the B-team started well in the traditional tournament in Rotterdam, Holland, but ended up finishing in last place.

The A-team combined several of the best baseball players who remain in Cuba and who weren’t hired out to foreign leagues by the Cuban Sports Institute (INDER) with young players. The B-team brought together those that were left over from the above selection.

The A-team managed by Roger Machado and with Victor Mesa as their hitting coach, was supposedly formed so as to win both the tournaments it went to, and that’s what Machado had said before leaving, but it didn’t win either. At the Can-Am League, the bar was just set at winning more games than they lost (12-11), which wasn’t asking too much already, and to win the exhibition series.

At a first glance, it seemed that the Cuban baseball federation had underestimated the playing level at the Can-Am League, because even though Major League baseball players don’t take part, there are many players who have a lot of experience in this kind of tournament, and the young players have a lot of talent.

However, this judgement later clashes with statements made by the Cuban team themselves (after losing most of their games), where they talked about first class pitchers, and even mention the Major Leagues. Not even Victor Mesa, the man of the famous words, believes the last statement, but he was eager to justify the worst performance of a team wearing Cuba’s sports uniform in history.

National selection teams have been competing on the international circuit for decades and decades and they have never, not even after professionals were allowed to take part in all kinds of tournaments, had such an unfavorable outcome like they did this year. This includes seasons when they lost friendly games to the United States, Japan or Mexican professionals in the 1980s.

Cuba’s pitching, the main cause for the latest failures, is really poor, but batting isn’t much better either, as you only need to mix up pitches a little and you’ve dominated the better of the Cuban batters. Roger Machado himself admitted that his students aren’t used to pitchers having  three or four pitches, and much less seeing balls that come over 90 miles per hour a lot of the time.

However, this isn’t anything new; these are already old shortcomings in Cuban baseball, which is always attributable to how poorly it is developed at home.

Over the last few days, some statements from the former pitching star from Havana, Lazaro de la Torre, have made the news, in which he clearly appeared to be bothered by those who put all of the blame “on the poor groundwork”. What groundwork? The so-called Iron Arm from the capital noted that if trainers from below aren’t given anything, nobody is motivated to work properly.

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