Reflections of Comrade Fidel
Fidel Castro Ruz
March 19, 2009
[Cuba had reached the final of the last 50 tournaments in which it has played, dating back five decades, according to baseball historian Peter C. Bjarkman. But after the March 18, 2009 5-0 loss to Japan, Cuba was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic in the second round, its earliest exit since the 1959 Pan American Games.]
In the game that finished today at almost 3 in the morning between the teams from Japan and Cuba, we were unquestionably defeated.
The organizers of the Classic decided that the three countries in the first three spots of world baseball shall play it out in San Diego, including Cuba arbitrarily in the Asian group despite the fact that we are definitely in the Caribbean.
However, I doubt that any team from the West can defeat Japan and Korea in the group of competitors who will be playing in Los Angeles in the next three days. Only one of the two Asian countries with its quality shall decide who will take the first and second spots in the Classic.
What was important for the organizers was to eliminate Cuba, a revolutionary country that has heroically resisted and has not been able to be defeated in the battle of ideas. Nevertheless, one day we shall again be a dominant power in that sport.
The excellent team representing us in the Classic, made up mostly of young athletes, is without a doubt a genuine representation of the best athletes in our country.
They competed with great courage; they didn’t lose heart and they aimed for victory right up to the last inning.
The line-up, suggested from Cuba by the management and their expert advisors, was good and inspired confidence. It was strong both offensively and defensively. They had a good reserve of pitching talent and strong hitters, in case the changing circumstances of a game would require it. By applying the same concepts, they won and dominated the powerful Mexican team.
I should point out that the leadership of the team in San Diego was very poor. The old criteria of timeworn methods prevailed, against a capable adversary who constantly innovated.
We must learn the relevant lessons.
Baseball today, among all the sports, is the most capable of originating expectations because of the enormous variety of situations that might arise and the specific part played by each of the men on the diamond. It has a reputation everywhere as a truly exciting show. Even though the stadiums fill up with fans, there is nothing that compares to the pictures captured by the cameras. It seems to have been created so that baseball can be transmitted by that media.
Television heightens interest by going into great detail about every action. It even offers the possibility of seeing the stitching and the rotation of a ball thrown at 100 miles an hour, a ball rolling along a white line or it being caught in the glove of a defender one tenth of a second before or after the runner’s foot touches base. I can think of no other sport which can compete with that variety of situations, except chess, where the activity ceases to be muscular and becomes an intellectual one, something impossible to televise.
In Cuba, where we practice almost all sports and where we have numerous amateur players, baseball has become a national passion.