The Cuban Passion for Baseball

Osmel Almaguer

Fans at Havana’s Latinoamericano Stadium.

HAVANA TIMES — Good or bad, Cuban baseball continues to awaken the heated passions of sport fans. This is especially true during a post-season involving Havana’s Industriales team, the “emblem of Cuban baseball”, as people have become used to saying.

Regardless of whether this is true or false, the fact is that very few baseball enthusiasts remain indifferent to the team’s performance. When it wins, it isn’t news, but, when it loses, it is in every headline. Its recent defeat in the seventh game of the semifinal playoffs against Pinar del Rio is a case in point.

Today, I was at the hospital very early in the morning and overheard talk of several people brought to the emergency ward as a result of arguments and brawls prompted by the baseball game. In many cases, people are simply violently fanatical. In others, people lay bets on teams and, as we all know, bets don’t always have a happy ending.

Occasionally, people lose a bet and don’t want to pay up – and Cubans don’t often think twice to start a fight, be it with the aid of stick, a stone or a knife, as our parents teach us to do when we’re little kids.

The doctor at the hospital, originally from Pinar del Rio, proudly told me how her team “won the playoff against the ‘blues’.” She went speechless when I said to her: “I am an Industriales fan, but I am not fanatical. Pinar del Rio played a good game and deserves to have won.”

She didn’t know what to say because, for Cubans, success without bragging is meaningless. I could well be one of the few exceptions who didn’t pick up a phone to taunt his friends from Pinar del Rio when Industriales was leading the series three games to one.

When the game ended on last Saturday, messages from Cuba’s westernmost province flooded my mobile. My friends from Pinar couldn’t resist the temptation, see.

I won’t say I don’t care the team lost (I am an Industriales fan, as I said), but I like being objective in all aspects of my life. In politics, I also like to remain objective and avoid passions.

I believe this is a good attitude if we want to arrive at opinions that are more or less fair. I don’t think we should end up throwing stones at one another over arguments that aren’t that important.


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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One thought on “The Cuban Passion for Baseball

  • A very nice essay. My condolences to you on the loss by your Industriales. I too cheer for my city’s “Blues”, the Toronto Blue Jays. The season is only recently started and the Jays are off to a less than brilliant start. And alas, my other blue team, the Maple Leafs lost their last chance to get into the NHL hockey playoffs, their worst season in years. Like you, I’m a fan but not a fanatic.

    Better luck to your Industriales next year.

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