After Uniforms and Balls, Cuban Baseball Is Left Without Bats

The Special Baseball Series began in March and ends on June 3. (PL)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 24 May 2023 — In addition to the desertions of athletes, the players who still remain in the National Baseball Series (SNB) must juggle in each game without the necessary elements. The last episode of shame in the SNB occurred this Tuesday, when, in the match of the Elefantes de Cienfuegos against the Gallos de Sancti Spíritus, the players ran out of bats just a few minutes after the challenge had begun.

What happened was broadcast by Tele Rebelde and led the provincial newspaper 5 de Septiembre to dedicate a long text this Wednesday to the difficulties faced by the main “sports spectacle” of the Island.

The newspaper recognizes the debacle of baseball, considered the national sport and the “greatest priority” of the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER). Despite the fact that “baseball is always defended by tooth and nail,” the official media rules out the success of the 62nd edition of the SNB, in which 16 teams participate, due to the “difficult economic conditions” that the country is going through.

5 de Septembre points out that the “incredible incident” that occurred at the José Antonio Huelga stadium, in Sancti Spíritus, highlighted the situation that other teams in the league could face. According to the report, the Cienfuegos selection warned in advance about the lack of equipment, but there was no response.

Athletes also face a shortage of balls. The National Commission reported on May 18 that the Series will continue its training with the national balls, of the Batos brand, due to a delay in the shipment of the official TeamMate balls, an Italian company based in the Republic of San Marino, which since 2022 has been a sponsor of the tournament.

The newspaper says that TeamMate last year forced a postponement in the start of the Elite League due to a delay in the delivery of uniforms, and that they even arrived on the Island with spelling errors. The balls provided by the company, the report adds, are manufactured in “distant China.”

The official newspaper says that if TeamMate had fulfilled the terms of the contract, the ball would have been “more lively” and would not have “enlarged” the bad performance. As a result, “it is not surprising that during the most recent subseries the pitchers have been submersed [sic], the bats depleted and the scoreboards exhibiting multiple poor results and anemic offensives.”

To the litany of complaints, says 5 de Septembre, is added the extra charges of the National Commission for the purchase of lost balls in the stadiums, which until last May 17 totaled 4,207. The most serious cases are the matches that have taken place in the stadiums of Guantánamo, Villa Clara, Isla de la Juventud, Pinar del Río and Havana, where between 17 and 20 balls are lost in each game.

Another “mistake” of the National Series is the continuous complaint of athletes about the lack of food or the poor quality of food during the games, as well as the low salaries. There is also “the constant exodus of players, by contracts in other leagues or by personal decisions, which turns the directors into true magicians,” the newspaper says.

With the Central American and Pan American Games just around the corner, to be held in June in El Salvador, the official press warns that Cuba is “unlikely” to have good results when athletes “are literally torn to shreds on the ground.”

Translated by Regina Anavy 


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