Cuban Baseball Needs More Young Blood

The Nicaraguan team left much to be desired after there was a lot of talk in the Cuban media about who would be selected. (La Prensa)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ernesto Santana, Havana, 28 February 2018 — The youth should have played more. In this, some commentators and followers agree that the game with Nicaragua should have used players with less experience, instead of abusing some productive players who have already been overworked.

In part, due to doubts like these, and to the inconsistency of the strategies and methods of those who handle baseball in the country, many fans ignore, or try to ignore, the ups and downs of the baseball played on the island and insist that they prefer Major League Baseball.

The first Cuban team roster was leaked in the Nicaraguan media. Then, officially informed of the team make-up, for example, the pitching staff was superior to that taken to the Caribbean Series, where it was decided to dispense with our best ever closer Jose Angel Garcia.

It did not seem respectful to confront our beginners with a national team where some of the players have experience in the best baseball in the world, but neither should they have been recruiting too many athletes past their prime who, like Frederich Cepeda and Alexander Ayala, deserve a break even though they are still fit. Lázaro Blanco collapsed from fatigue.

Some think they could give the younger players more chances to play, since that was the team (in addition the manager himself, Carlos Martí, recognized as more competitive than Guadalajara’s). The outfielder Jorge Tartabull played very little, as did the catcher Yunior Ibarra and the infielder Yórbert Sánchez.

They failed to take advantage of a good time for these boys to get some practice and Lazaro Cedeño was not given any chance to defend himself in any position, because he is perhaps, today, the only legitimate slugger and should not be confined to the position of designated hitter, because in fact there is no shortage of athletes for that position.

One wonders what was the point of this series with Nicaragua. It was not necessary to start the first day working the whole bench, but in the second and third games the nine on the field needed to be more rested. On the other hand, no one knows how long they will continue to convert relievers into opening pitchers.

Fans and specialists reviewing the last two events in which our players have participated had no end of questions, to which is added the question of whether the match up against Nicaragua is part of the preparation for the Central American and Caribbean Games of Barranquilla at the end of July.

The Nicaraguan team left much to be desired after there was much talk in the Cuban media about who would be selected and about the work done by Nemesio Porras — president of the Nicaraguan Baseball Federation — to renew and strengthen that sport in his country.

It is also worrisome, but not surprising, that the Cuban team did not play very convincingly in the magnificent Denis Martínez stadium. Several times they had to come back from behind. The first game ended and in the ninth inning of the third game the Nicaraguans were two outs away from winning. Not to mention the number of men left on base and the fluctuations in offense and pitching. The Cuban announcers insisted on convincing us that this was a “nice entertaining game.”

Apart from that, it would not be bad to learn lessons from the way baseball is developed there, with a tournament like Nicaragua’s El Pomares, on a national level, with almost 100 games, but above all with a national professional league, which can even hire up to eight foreign athletes, for the sake of the quality of the show.

It is now expected that in the series against the Mexican teams, from March 2 to 8, the strategy will be refined, the fans will be more excited and they will do better than just scoring easy wins. Much more so if the Warriors of Oaxaca and the Red Devils of Mexico, of the professional league of that country, do not seem to be at their best.

That series, with the name United for Passion, will consist of 12 games between the Latino and the Victoria de Girón, between the two Mexican teams and the Western and Eastern teams of Cuba.


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