March 19, 2009
Say what you will about Fidel Castro. The man loves his baseball.
The piece was published in Escambray, "official news publication in the Cuban central province of Sancti Spiritus," and it's tucked among other light reading with such titles as "More News About the Agonies of Capitalism, "The Anguish of Developed Capitalism" and "Fidel Castro's Message to Hugo Chavez."
Castro has been ailing in recent years but these columns sure read like he wrote them. Here are some highlights from "The Moral Importance of the Baseball Classic":
• The WBC powers, who are shrewd "exploit(ers)" of athletes, stacked the deck against the "best teams — Korea, Japan and Cuba" — putting them in the same group in the second round "so that they had to eliminate each other."
• On that note, Castro says it's unfair that the team from the United States (the country of the "Big Leagues") is allowed to avoid the so-called best opponents so deep into the tournament.
• The presidents of Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, Fidel says, loathe having to get permission from major league baseball teams for their stars to participate. Cuba's players, "those who do not get corrupted, sell out or betray their people and their homeland" (this means YOU, Livan and Duque!), don't have to worry about capitalists saying it's OK.
This is where the WBC's "moral importance" comes into focus. The tournament is a method for the forces of good (Cuba) to triumph against those of evil (capitalists). I think that's it.
• The Cuban team, the same one that fell short of a trophy or medal of any kind, was "no doubt the best that has ever represented our country." Uh oh for those guys when they land in Havana.
• He complains that Japan beat Cuba on March 15 because Cuba's manager made mistakes and Castro was "thousands of kilometers away" and thus unable to influence his decision-making.
• Asian players are machine-like in their analysis of the game and better able than most to let emotions get the best of them. (They stereotype about Asians in Havana too, I guess.) Castro also implied that the Koreans are duplicitous and devious.
• Cuban players can be too patient at the plate, to the point of waiting for the first strike to go by, no matter when it occurs in the count, before swinging.
• Castro uses the word "southpaw."
• Frederich Cepeda doesn't have to worry about waiting in line for toilet paper ever again.