World Baseball Classic
By DAN ROSENHECK
Published: March 12, 2009
Cuba’s Pastime: Beating International Competition
Cuba's team has won 25 of 36 Baseball World Cup tournaments and three of the five potential Olympic gold medals. It reached the finals of the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006 and this year has advanced to the Classic’s second round, which begins Saturday.
“Baseball is more Cuba’s national pastime than it is America’s,” said Roberto González Echevarría, a professor at Yale and author of “The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball.” “It was considered modern, democratic and American, while the Spaniards had bullfighting, which was retrograde and barbaric. It’s as if the American founding fathers had been wielding Louisville Sluggers.”
“Our baseball players are first-rate youths, men who would die for their homeland,” Castro wrote recently in his newspaper column. “They will come home either with their shields or on their shields.”
The [Cuban] club also enjoys some advantages above and beyond its fearsome talent. While the major-leaguers playing in the tournament are rusty, having missed much of spring training, the Cubans are in midseason form: their league has suspended play for the Classic.
Cuba rarely has to deal with deeply hostile crowds, since it regularly benefits from ample leftist goodwill abroad. At Mexico City’s Foro Sol on Tuesday, the seats behind home plate were packed with Cuba fans dressed in full track suits advertising their allegiance. Many of them were Mexicans who nonetheless vowed allegiance to Cuba in socialist solidarity.
JG: The mainstream American news media, including the New York Times, are obsessed about “defectors” so I have left that garbage out. If you are titillated about “defectors” see the original article. Americans would never understand an athlete that does something for the love of the sport or the love of the country, because the only thing an American loves is MONEY.