By OSMEL ALMAGUER
HAVANA TIMES, March 17 — Cuba’s loss to Japan on Sunday night created a whirlwind of commentary. From that moment on, everyone that knows anything about baseball had an opinion on the situation of the national team.
Some believed that its chances to advance to the semifinals had ended. Even after defeating Mexico on Monday, the skeptics note that either of the two possible rivals, Japan or Korea, are superior teams to the island’s.
Others think the Cuban’s fighting spirit and tradition will carry them ahead.
What’s certain is that against Japan’s Matsuzaka, the Cuban hitters looked bad, and they didn’t do so well either against the three relievers that followed him in the latter innings.
This could have been the result of the psychological control that the Japanese starter exercised against his rivals. It’s also true that Cuba has lost three of their last four games to the Asian teams (Japan and Korea) in big tournaments.
I don’t think we are destined to lose the next game on Wednesday night, although it will definitely be a game that Cuba will have to play at near perfection in order to win.
In this World Baseball Classic II, we have made mistakes running the bases, costly errors in the field that have meant runs, and the pitchers have also erred.
Nonetheless, Team Cuba is a mix of future prospects and veterans that are giving their best. There is always an air of confidence, based on so many years of sweeping the international tournaments. That has created a winning mentality that helps a lot.
Asian baseball has been demonstrating since the first Classic in 2006, that it has a quality superior to the rest. Concepts, technology and abilities join for a fast and defensive play, but also one capable of winning by a wide margin.
There are few teams capable of beating the Japanese and Koreans and ours is one of them.
For the moment, we are still alive. We beat Mexico convincingly and now have a big game up ahead. I don’t think it’s going to be easy for our next rivals. They will also be obligated to play flawless baseball.