PAÁFATA, THIS IS A BAT FOR THE FACE…! / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Of course, there are players. They are high performance soldiers. Who pays the piper calls the tune. For these are the country’s professionals.

And there they go, to an Intercontinental Cup on the other side of the world. In indignant single file. Without their captain, Frederich Cepeda (or the veteran pitcher Pedro Luis Lazo). There to fight for the coveted medals on Cuban Television News (the gold always dedicated by discipline to el Comandante). And there they stay together in a kind of concentration hotel. Under they eye of a certain doctor* who monitors everything.

Champion compañeros: they go to bed early, like good kids in uniform (Plan pajama** for ball players). Zero solitary walks. Zero late arrivals. Zero making love to a female enemy of the Revolution (not to mention a man). You already know, in the distance the monitoring must be almost vile.

In fact, it’s really vile what Cuba’s leadership is doing to the stars of Cuba.

They all leave. Sports policy practically expels them (there is a poverty of intelligence in The Cuban Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation, INDER). There is no option left for those who know the future is not exhausted by our National Baseball Series. And to top it off the bosses are so small-minded that the players are treated as “traitors” and nobody on the island (nor on the Cuba baseball team) jumps to defend the athletes from the stupidity of those bureaucratic — more than ideological — idiots (it’s known today that the “Pineapple” might well be called mafia).

I can’t stop feeling sorry for these players. For Pedro Luis Lazo, victimizer and later victim of the Industriales, the team of my soul. For Frederich Cepeda***, who has made indecent declarations of “Sorry, nothing happened here.” For the rest of the Cuban team that travels beheaded and in panic to Taiwan, instead of standing at 3 and 2 to finish the democratization of our supposedly amateur league (or failing that, shutting it down). They risk ridicule to play under pressure and other times they’ve lost concentration and lost like apprentices (the hatred follows you from the podium).

I never follow international championships. It’s obscene to look at the bench and see so many faces so far from the nobel spirit of baseball. So many cops with mobile phones with roaming direct to the Head of State in Havana. So many flags and banners in the stands. So much secrecy among the speakers who don’t say a single word (and not even they know whether it is a cautious accomplice or a criminal asshole).

I’m sorry. The sport is so not worth it (for this nothing they lose the pleasure of life: and this is the most totalitarian triumph our State). Please, finish reading this column… or go out and bat some garbage for the next blog…

Translator’s notes:

*One of Fidel Castro’s sons, Antonio Castro Soto del Valle, an orthopedic surgeon, is the team physician for Cuba’s baseball team.
** “Plan pajama” is Cuban slang that refers to someone once in power now demoted to a low level job.
*** Why Cepeda was “benched” at home and not allowed to go to Taiwan with the team remains a mystery.

October 22, 2010