Cubans Headed for San Diego

By OSMEL ALMAGUER

During the Classic some fans where their uniforms even to the beach (photo by Caridad)
During the Classic some fans wear their uniforms even to the beach (photo by Caridad)

HAVANA TIMES, March 11 -Peraza’s home run made me jump out of my seat. My father whooped like he was a kid, while I pounded on the sofa. The uproar must have woken any sleeping neighbors.

The fact of having been behind late into the game had filled our veins with ice water, as if the tension had begun to freeze our blood, though we knew that our team had the stuff it took to win.

Suddenly that player, whom many of us had begged to be included in the regular lineup, did what Cubans are used to doing when in a difficult situation: he triumphed – hammering the ball over the fence close to the left field line.

We knew that Australia would give us a great game. That victory means that we are among the top eight in the World Baseball Classic. Now we’ll have to wait for the outcome of the Mexico- Australia match to see who will or rival for first place in our group.

Later, a more complicated phase will await us. In San Diego, we will face teams like Japan and Korea, rivals that demand -in addition to playing to perfection- a quota of luck.

Watching the Classic on TV has a few advantages, it allows you to have a more comprehensive idea of the tournament, and to have access to information offered by the commentators.

But despite this, I would love to be physically present in Petco Park Stadium in San Diego on Sunday March 15 when the Cuban team plays its first second round game; to feel that environment, to smell the scent, to see the faces of the players, and also to scream my head off for my team.

For the time being, I know that’s impossible, but maybe someday!

Before the first Classic was held in 2006, professional baseball -and especially the US Major Leagues- were a complete myth for Cubans.

We allowed ourselves to be intimidated by the propaganda, by the sheer size of the players, etc. It was said that our baseball system could never measure up to the “big fish.”

To tell the truth, the technical-tactical knowledge of our players was well beneath that of the pros, but to the extent that we have been participating at that level, we’ve improved markedly.

Today we are able to arm the canon in a way that makes us proud. Our players possess force, tact and speed in addition to spirit and intelligence.

That’s why we will not accept failing to make it to the semifinals.

For an on-the-scene report on Cuba’s participation at the World Baseball Classic click on: Peter C. Bjarkman’s WBC Diary. For an inning-by-inning play-by-play of Cuba’s 5-4 win over Australia: WBC: CUBA VS. AUSTRALIA, PLAY BY PLAY

Click on the thumbnails to see all the photos in this gallery



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