Cuba Baseball Needs Real Change

Osmel Almaguer

Team Cuba at an international competition. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES, Dec. 20 — Everyone knows that Cuban baseball is not enjoying its finest moment. One problem that’s been fully discussed is the imbalance between its pitching and batting capabilities, with the latter possessing an overwhelming advantage.

Among the contributing factors are the inconsistency of the umpiring and their unduly narrow strike zones. Another factor is the type of ball that has been used (the Mizuno-150), which is much “livelier” than a Mizuno-200 or a Rawlings – the most commonly used internationally.

However these are factors that are only aggravate a situation that has its roots in the prevailing degradation of our society, the exodus of players to the United States, and the lack of technical, strategical and psychological preparation of our pitchers.

I do not know if this last element is related to the hiring out of coaches to other countries?

Anyway, the truth is that with the repeated defeats we’ve met in international tournaments, what’s clearly required is a change, or a reform, or several…but not a revolution.

What I mean is that baseball should pass from a political status to another one that’s more economic, converting the teams in our league into state-owned socialist enterprises, which, while not having the profitability of the US major league franchises, would at least be an incentive for the players.

If this were possible, such companies would have the rights over the players to trade them for money to other teams in foreign leagues, perhaps ones like the Dominican, Puerto Rican, Venezuelan, Mexican or even the Asian teams.

But for now, all this remains a dream. Because our baseball league think tanks have been content to apply two sad measures – in the first case quite rightly, but in the second case with potentially devastating consequences.

What I mean is that it was very intelligent — though perhaps too late — to substitute the Mizuno-150 for the 200 to get closer to the true correlation between pitching and batting; but it was a major screw up to raise the mound to 15 inches so as to give the pitchers an advantage. I remember the maximum height permissible being 12 inches.

Again we’re going to be witnesses of an illusion. If last season Havana’s last-place Metropolitan team hit more in our series than most teams of the US Major Leagues, this year we’re going to have pitchers below a 1.00 earned run average, and teams with possibly less than 2.00.

Friends, radical measures are required to save Cuban baseball.

For those who don’t want to see it destroyed and who might have some influence over these decisions, I urge you to advocate real change and not more death blows, which aren’t funny at all.



Osmel Almaguer:Until recently I would to identify myself as a poet, a cultural promoter and a university student. Now that my notions on poetry have changed slightly, that I got a new job, and that I have finished my studies, I’m forced to ask myself: Am I a different person? In our introductions, we usually mention our social status instead of looking within ourselves for those characteristics that define us as unique and special. The fact that I’m scared of spiders, that I’ve never learned to dance, that I get upset over the simplest things, that culminating moments excite me, that I’m a perfectionist, composed but impulsive, childish but antiquated: these are clues that lead to who I truly am.

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