By Jose A. Rodriguez
HAVANA TIMES – The voice ran from mouth to mouth, and social networks exploded: the World Series of Major League Baseball was to be broadcast live in Cuba.
Informed sources gave it as a fact, and thousands of fans gathered before their television on Tuesday evening to enjoy the game on the state-owned Tele Rebelde channel.
However, it was all smoke, as they were left with the desire to see two of the Cuban stars often in the foreign sports media of recent times: Yulieski Gourriel (Houston Astros) and Yasiel Puig (Los Angeles Dodgers).
Starting on Monday night the possibility of a live broadcast was being talked about on the street, and gained steam on Tuesday, but in the end everything was diluted. I personally communicated with a well-informed source at the Cuban Radio and Television Institute (ICRT) who had confirmed that the transmission would be made within minutes of the original live broadcast.
However, today I confess that at the last minute they decided to only record the game to broadcast it on Wednesday, and so it is hoped they will do so with the other Series games. That’s to say to put them on the national television one day after the fact.
It was suspicious that nothing had been reported on any of the TV sports programs during the day, although on the Sports segment of the National News the game itself was mentioned, but not a word of it being broadcast.
After decades of veto, about five years ago Tele Rebelde began to broadcast some taped Major League games on their International Baseball program on Sundays, but it was not until 2015 that fans could see a Cuban in action.
Until that moment, either their presence at the plate or on the mound was edited out or simply they did not show any game where there was a Cuban on either team’s payroll. As this latter tactic is almost impossible today with so many Cubans in MLB, they had no choice but to put them, but without highlighting them.
The rumored live broadcast promised to be a historic event because in this baseball country it has been over 50 years since a Major League game was aired live, and this time it had two added attractions. It was nothing less than the World Series, and there were two Cubans, one for each side, so regardless of the result, one of them would be a champion.
Looking back to last year’s World Series, in which the supersonic Aroldis Chapman was a protagonist for the champion Cubs, none of the games were broadcast here, not even in a deferred way. I mention this so the non-Cuban reader can get the idea of the importance to our fans of what which was about to happen.
Better than nothing
In short, even if the games won’t be aired live, but with a day’s delay, it is a historical event for Cuban television, and a gigantic step to overthrow the myth that it would never happen for X or Y reason.
The decision responds to a demand of thousands, if not millions, of Cubans, who during all these years have strongly demanded, including on the pages of Havana Times, for the possibility of seeing the best baseball in the world.
That was breathed today on the streets of Havana, which dawned rainy, marked to a certain extent by the disappointment of fans of the national sport over last night’s fiasco.
“I don’t know how I’m going to go out on the street today to avoid the ridicule,” Ulysses, a carpenter, told me. “Yesterday I called numerous friends to see the game and in the end they didn’t put it on.”
“I always had my doubts,” says Luis Rau. “It was too strong to think they’d air a World Series, with Cubans, and live, too much for one heart. Until I see it I won’t believe it. ”
“Guys”, Jose Carlos intervenes, “we don’t have to see the glass half empty. Remember that last year we didn’t see one game, and now at least we will see them deferred, and if it is really going to be with only one day of difference, we should be satisfied. Throughout the season Yulieski was not seen once. Even in the summaries they made in the news, they avoided talking about him.”