Team Cuba had to fight hard at the right time because their backs were against the wall. It did fight convincingly at the end, and it went undefeated for four straight games. First it had to play the always very strong and dangerous Dutch team and it beat them 4-0. And then it had to deal with the much improved Puerto Rican team. It was sweet revenge time after the criollos ignominious loss in the first game of the tournament.
This is what we, Cuban baseball fans, hope and expect next year at the 2013 World Baseball Classic. It promises to be the biggest brawl since the Thrila in Manila. Do not underestimate the team from the island that gave the world a Roberto Clemente.
Cuba's hitting was a little weak in the beginning, but a new generation of Cuban pitchers, proud successors to Pedro Luis Lazo and Norge Luis Vera, rose to the occasion. The win in the semifinals against USA, has to be called a “Win by Committee.” Cuba sent seven pitchers to the mound and the last three were rookies to “big time” international competition. This was their time to shine, and they came through and delivered a great performance of relief pitching. The Dutch were stunned.
To me, the most exciting game was the win against Japan. They were the champions of WBC 2006 and WBC 2009. Cuba walloped them 12-1. Their version of Murderers Row (Gourriel, Cepeda, Despaigne and Abreu) came through with a .467 average in that key game. Bravo!
A big round of applause for Victor Mesa. He proved that he is a great manager. Look at his superb performance this year with the Matanzas Cocodrilos in Cuba's 51st National Series. And big congratulations to Yulieski Gourriel for being selected the MVP of this year's Honkbal Week.
Last but not least, there is one page where you click and look at all the box-scores of this year's tournament and all the detailed play-by-play. Click here to go to the Wikepedia page for the 2012 Honkbal Week.