Free Baseball / Rosa María Rodríguez Torrado

From: “”

The baseball team of the Cuban capital, the Industrials, is among the four semi-finalists that are competing in the championship playoffs of the 51st National Series. The sports spectacle packs the stadiums with fans and police officers. The narrators of those events always highlight the approximate number of fans but never comment on the exaggerated presence of the agents of order, much less their number.

A Cuban television journalist referred a while back to the revolutionary game of ball as “the free sport opposing the slave,” in comparison with that practiced in Cuba before 1959.

The supposed “liberty sport” has cost our players whom the state allows to travel according to its interests and the political trustworthiness of the athletes (so that they do not “betray” by staying in the foreign country); who cannot play in professional leagues — not only in those of Latin America or of “brother countries” like Venezuela; and who are financially deprived like almost all of society.

The majority of these who stand out for their high sports achievement, the State involves in different political activities in order to engage them with the system. As they cannot count on resources, the state give them houses and cars as a governmental or partisan gesture, puts them in the Cuban parliament or they are “chosen by the people” — coincidentally — to join some local, municipal, or provincial political entity.

The national pastime could have still greater worth if it were not for the evident supervision and vigilance of the government. A partisan consultancy directed to “reduce the pressure” that might arise in the fans present in the stadiums, surreptitiously politicizes and upsets the natural competitive rivalry in order to avoid a tumultuous brawl of unexpected magnitude.

It surprises us how the directors of each team speak in the interviews of the “battle hardened” opposition — as if dealing with soldiers or the practitioners of a martial discipline — and how many praise their opponents in general.

We also listen to the “words” and appearances of some partisan leader or the Commissioner of Baseball, the repetitive reference of the narrators to the fact that “we are all Cubans” — accompanied by television images of international tournaments in which players from different regions of Cuba have represented us, given us sensational moments — the comments that director so-and-so and director such-and-such are friends when they are overseas. But that those who are “on bad terms” are the referees.

Until a short while ago I wondered why they are so often wrong. I was offended that they were not at the level of baseball that is played in our country and of the quality of its players. It is exasperating to see them alternate their mistakes, first in favor of that team, then in favor of the other.

Now I think they have the mission of compensating for each “called play” that has been hurried or erratic with the subsequent decision that favors the adversary in order to compensate the fans and players of both teams.

They are the police force of a baseball that was reinvented in Cuba after 1959, one whose supreme referees supervise and manipulate everything, with what they call “Revolutionary baseball” they stay locked in the mental dungeons of a model in which we are all subject to the dirty play of a group in favor of its own well-being.

May 20 2012