I do not pretend to be a baseball expert. I am just an average fan who loves the game. But it appears to me that Cuba may have entered a period of decline in international baseball competitions. One very tough loss at the last World Cup and a loss at the Beijing Olympics. The loss yesterday hurts.
Cuba went against the best on Sunday, and it lost. The islanders were not facing an easy South Africa this time, they were facing the number one power in baseball today: Japan, and the exceptional high caliber pitching of Daisuke Matzusaka.
Cuban manager Higinio Velez has been rightly criticized for opening this very important game with a pitcher that is rather inexperienced. Some are saying that he should have started Norge Luis Vera. The point is moot now. Cuba lost against the best team in the WBC and there is no shame in that.
Now Cuba finds itself in a position that it is not accustomed to facing. One more loss in Round 2 of the 2009 World Baseball Classic and they return home empty handed. But we also should not underestimate the resiliency and the fighting power of Team Cuba. It is a tough uphill battle, but if they accept the tough challenge with a positive mental attitude, they can be victorious.
In the next game, you will find yours truly still yelling at the top of my lungs: GO CUBA!