Free Baseball vs. Slave Baseball / Dimas Castellanos
Posted on October 7, 2013
The facts and news about the sport of balls and strikes, learned during
the recently concluded month of July, settle the dispute between amateur
and professional baseball in favor of the latter.
It started with the debut of Yovani Aragón in the World Port Tournament
of Rotterdam, a less demanding event than the Olympic Games and the
World Classic, where the spiritual mentor captured the ninth title for Cuba.
It was followed by the series between the U.S. collegiate national team
and the Cuban team, in which the Antillean team displayed the weakest
performance in recent international matches: weak hitting, a high number
of strikeouts, failure of the first batters, flawed tactics, errors in
fielding and throwing to bases, and they stole 15 bases in 16 tries. For
its part, the American squad also had a weak offense, but had 12
pitchers throwing between 93 and 98 miles per hour.
The Cubans, who had defeated the student selections in 8 of 10 tries,
with more experience and with an average age of 26.6 years, were
defeated by a team whose ages ranged between 19 and 23. The Cuban
mentor, Victor Mesa, who hoped to win three or more games, had to settle
for a crushing defeat. Something similar to what happened in the third
World Baseball Classic, when he said “We will win the Classic. That’s
why we came, not for anything else”; but he failed to improve on the
fifth place finish in the second Classic.
To these two facts the following news was added:
1 – The Granma native Alfredo Despaigne, hired by the Campeche Pirates
of the Mexican League, hit 6 for 6 on July 24, equaling the record set
in 1936 by the “Immortal”, Martin Dihigo.
2 – Yasiel Puig, from Cienfuegos, was awarded the Best Player and Rookie
of the Month for June, after his debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In
26 games he led in batting, was the leader in on-base percentage, hit
seven home runs and drove in 16 runs. With 44 hits he was second on the
all-time list of rookies in their first month, four behind the mark set
by Joe DiMaggio in 1936.
3 – Jose Iglesias, infielder for the Boston Red Sox, was selected Rookie
of the Month in the American League. In 25 games he batted .395 with
four doubles, two triples, one homer, six RBIs, 17 runs and eight walks,
had 11 games with two hits or more and a streak of 18 straight games
with base hits.
4 – Jose Fernandez, pitcher for the Miami Marlins, with little more than
three months in the major leagues, was named to the All-Star Game along
with Aroldis Chapman of Holguin, closer for the Cincinnati Reds, while
Yoenis Cespedes from Granma, of the Oakland Athletics, won the home-run
competition during All-Star Week.
5 – Veterans of the Industriales team played several games during the
celebration of the 50th anniversary of the club in Miami, where the
Industriales players from the island faced off against Industriales
players living in the U.S.
JORGE EBRO el Nuevo Herald
The facts and news take us back to the time when professional baseball
was abolished. Until then Cuba had a large presence in international
events. After the First World Amateur Baseball Series, held in London in
1938, the following five were held at La Tropical Stadium in Havana, of
which the island won four. Meanwhile the Caribbean Series was created at
the request of Cuba, when in 1948 it proposed to delegates from Puerto
Rico, Panama and Venezuela, to hold an annual series among the champion
teams to decide the best of the region. Havana was host to the first in
1949. From there, until 1960, Cuba won 7 of the 12 series, the last five
in a row.
In keeping with a longstanding relationship between politics and sport,
the leader of the Revolution made a long speech about baseball. On
January 2, 1967, he said: professional sport was eradicated, and above
all, it was eradicated in that sport, which was one of the most popular:
baseball… But more interesting is that never did any professional
athlete whose business is the sport, play with such enthusiasm, so
bravely, with such courage, as do our athletes, who are not professionals.
Certainly the Revolution took baseball to all the people in the country,
constructed several stadiums, renamed the Grand Stadium the
Latino-American Stadium of del Cerro, and added new bleachers. In
exchange, it prevented Cuban players, with the qualities of stardom,
from measuring themselves against the best players in the world and
deprived the Island’s fans of the enjoyment of professional baseball
which, live or on the radio and television, they had enjoyed from
anywhere the country.However, professionalism was not eradicated, rather
it was hidden. If a professional is someone who is paid by salary for
the work performed, the players of the National Series, who received
their salaries for that work, have been professionals from then until today.
With that “free” baseball Cuba established supremacy for decades in the
Central American amateur, Pan American and global competitions. It
proclaimed the great victory over “slave” baseball. Brimming with pride,
in October 1975 it said: if in other Latin American countries there is
no social revolution, there is no development of the social revolution;
regardless of technique, regardless of how many trainers they hire,
regardless of how many new things they devise, they can’t match Cuba’s
successes in the sport.
The illusion vanished. Cuba had been beating the amateurs with a
professional team. When the match-ups with the presence of professionals
began, “slave” baseball proved superior to “free” baseball, as in the
Classics. The results started to disappoint. But the worst has been the
hundreds of players who have defected in search of “slavery,” which has
affected especially pitchers. Almost all of the best pitchers of the
last 20 years left the Island: From René Arocha to Odrisamer Despaigne
and Misael Siverio and with them hundreds of players from all categories.
After a long and brilliant baseball history, measured against the best
in the world and having triumphed, countries with no tradition in this
sport beat us, or we win by scaring them. The climax has been, not the
loss against other professionals, but against college students, true
amateurs who faced the “amateurs” of the greatest of the Antilles and
swept them in five games.
Cuba is in decline relative to the rest of the world. The dispute
between amateur and professional baseball is decided in favor of the
latter. The strategy outlined in 1961 needs to be abandoned. Although
not publicly acknowledged, which is too much to ask, the most important
thing is to accelerate the steps being taken to return to the road we
should never have abandoned. For now Cuba will attend the upcoming
Caribbean Series to be held in Margarita Island, Venezuela, but the
dream of many fans and many of those who now shine in Professional
Baseball, is to represent Cuba in the next Classic. It is not a big
demand, it is simply to allow Cuban players residing abroad to defend
the colors of their flag, as do players from the rest of the 15
6 August 2013
Source: “Free Baseball vs. Slave Baseball / Dimas Castellanos |
Translating Cuba” –