The Disappearance of a Myth / Fernando Dámaso

Photo: Revista Carteles

Cuba’s baseball team could not take the title in the recently ended World Cup, which took place in Panama, the honor going to the Netherlands. This is nothing new, as the same thing happened in the two previous Cups and in other events. Those times when the Cuban baseball team – always manned by professional players, whose only responsibility was playing ball and collecting their salaries (very meager) for it – defeated teams manned by students and true amateurs from participating countries, are gone. Then it was a contest of a lion against tied-up monkey, and we would boast proclaiming that we had the best baseball in the world, something totally untrue.

When the participation of professional ball players was authorized, even though the best never came – those active in the American Major Leagues – the myth of Cuba’s invincible team started to crumble.

It is symptomatic that once professional sports were prohibited after the triumph of the insurrection, for being considered not consistent with the new political postulates, soccer, basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, track and field sports and others, where professional teams and athletes participate are well promoted and even have fixed slots on television, radio and press, while professional baseball and its players don’t have the same coverage, and Cuban ballplayers are not allowed to play in teams in other countries, much less in the Major Leagues, the personal objective of any one of them.

The absurdity reaches the extreme of the banning coverage of the Major Leagues from local sports news shows and even from Telesur (a Venezuelan state-affiliated television station broadcast in Cuba), not allowing sports writers to speak or write about them, even of teams to which Cuban athletes living outside of Cuba belong, who are considered by the model as traitors to the Fatherland, when they should be the pride that were in previous times Adolfo Luque, Miguel Angel González, Orestes Miñoso, Conrado Marrero, San Noble, Adrián Zabala, Fermín Guerra, Sandalio Consuegra, Edmundo Armorós, Pedro Formental, Roberto Ortiz, Héctor Rodriguez. Willy Miranda, Camilo Pascual and others, who played in the Major Leagues and were also national champions, being part of the classic teams of Havana, Amenendares, Cienfuegos y Marianao.

clip image0061We Cubans have for years been prevented from enjoying the performances of Orlando Duke Hernandéz, Liván Hernandéz, Cansecu, Tartabull, René Arocha, Rolando Arrojo and others in the best baseball in the world, and our ballplayers have been mutilated in their development by not allowing their participation in it, as has happened to Marquetti, Vinent, Huelga, Mesa, Muñoz, Kindelán, Lazo and others who, once their active career is over, either have died or wander about making a living however they can, remembered only on some convenient date, without having been able to play in big baseball and make it to the Hall of Fame, which would have made them recognized world figures.

It would be convenient that, in the so-called actualization — or updating — of the model, we kept in mind to actualize also this erroneous policy, and our ball players could self-actualize without dogmatic and obsolete political meddling that, by the way, doesn’t apply to other athletes. Though soccer is considered a universal sport, in Cuba baseball is the national sport, and we Cubans have the right to enjoy the performances of our players, wherever they play and irrespective of the team they belong to, and not have to learn about their successes outside of Cuba in a clandestine fashion, as happened a few years ago with the music of the Beatles.

Translated by: lapizcero

October 19 2011