Archive for September, 2006

Cuba Baseball Star to the world?

September 11th, 2006

From Joseph A. Reaves’ “CASTRO’S ISLAND OF ALL-STARS” on the Arizona Republic to Circles Robinson‘s “Drooling over Pirating Cuba’s Baseball Best” on Periódico 26, you can see different viewpoint of the Cuba Baseball Stars.

Drooling over Pirating Cuba’s Baseball Best
By Circles Robinson

The Olympic baseball qualifying tournament that concluded Tuesday in Havana was once again resurrecting the dream of US agents to get their hands on Cuba’s top players. The lust to drain the island of its athletes also extends to other fields such as science, medicine and musicians.
In an article in the Arizona Republic on Tuesday, Joseph A. Reaves writes: “The recent hospitalization of 80-year-old Cuban President Fidel Castro raised speculation about the future of the island nation’s most precious commodity: its baseball players.”

He then goes on to add: “If a regime change in Cuba brings an end to the blockade, baseball fans everywhere will benefit.”

The mentality that the rest of the world should be content with its talent playing for the big bucks in the United States warps the thinking of Reaves and so many reporters like him who see the US as the center of the world.

Then there’s the Bush administration that has drafted a book-thick plan with a secret appendix to overthrow the Cuban government and replace it with one designated by Washington.

If someday the US falls from its superpower status, a growing possibility due to its ethical decline, would the people in that country be ecstatic to see their best athletes bought by teams in Europe, Asia or Latin America?

Likewise, would US citizens be overjoyed and proud to see their best doctors, scientists and artists leave the country for greener pastures?

The answer is no and rightly so. Why, because they would benefit in no way, just as Cuba would lose out if its national baseball league was culled of its best players.

The Arizona Republic goes on to note that since 1936, Cuba has won the World Cup of baseball 25 times. Of the four Olympic Games since 1992 including baseball as an official sport, the gold medallist was Cuba in three, including the 2004 Athens Games.

The article adds that “part of the reason Cuba has excelled in international competition is because of the blockade,” imposed shortly after the island’s 1959 revolution.

It’s outrageous to make such a claim when the opposite is true. Cuba, an island nation of 11.2 million people, has excelled in some fields including sports, biotechnology and medicine because, despite the blockade, it managed to make long term investments in several areas to socially and economically develop the country under the siege imposed by 10 US administrations.

The Republic reporter, like many other mainstream journalists, has eaten the bait and the rod as well that says Cubans are just waiting for Fidel to pass on so that they can bend down and ask the White House to save them.

Quoting a few millionaires who left Cuba for the big bucks with the help of US agents is a far cry from determining a nation’s interests. The American Dream of someone from a poor upbringing being able to buy 10 luxury cars and live in a huge mansion is a sick way to judge what’s best for a country.

While you have to wade through the muck, the article, to its credit, does quote one of the many Cuban baseball greats“third baseman Omar Linares” who turned down the millions on several occasions.

It may seem strange to many in the West, where individual wealth is often held as a human’s greatest possible achievement, that Linares, like so many other talented Cubans, sees life in a different light.

U.S., Cuba qualify for 2008 Olympic baseball

September 8th, 2006

People’s Daily Online also write an article about USA and Cuba qualify for 2008 Olympic Baseball in Beijing.

U.S., Cuba qualify for 2008 Olympic baseball

The United States on Wednesday defeated Cuba in the final of the Olympic Baseball Qualifying Tournament held in Cuban capital Havana. Both teams qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games.

The U.S. team beat the Cubans 8-5 thanks to a series of home runs in the late Tuesday competition, giving a taste of their own medicine to the Cuban team which had defeated a long list opponents in the same way.

Tuesday’s loss broke the Cuban team’s run of unbroken wins in the competition.

The U.S. team scored five such home runs in front of the 40,000-strong crowd in the Latinoamericano Stadium, shaming Cuba’s four pitchers.

The U.S.’ Skip Schumacher and Brian La Hair led the batting, put in an impressive performance at the beginning, despite the best efforts of pitcher Ariel Palma. And it was only when 90-mph pitcher Yunieski Maya took over that the U.S. felt any resistance.

The top four teams also win a place in the 2007 Baseball World Championships, and the third- and fourth-placed teams — Mexico and Canada — also secured places in a play-off matches for the Olympics, against play-off teams from the European, Asian, African and Oceania leagues.

The top seven teams, which also include Venezuela, Panama, and Nicaragua, also go through to the 2007 Rio de Janeiro-based Pan American Games.

Cuba lost but still in, Canada and Mexico get another chance

September 6th, 2006

According to the Periódico 26, Cuba lost but still advanced to Olympic 2008 with USA, and Canada, Mexico will get one more shot to Beijing at a qualifier in Taipei to be held in March 2008.

Curtain Falls on Cuba Olympic Baseball Tournament
By SIGFREDO BARROS

The curtain fell Tuesday night for the Olympic baseball qualifying tournament for the Americas which took place in Havana, Cuba and began August 25. The United States and Cuba won the two births open for Beijing 2008, both finishing with 8-1 records.

The United States defeated Cuba 8-5 on five home runs in the action-packed final game including three off of Cuba’s World Baseball Classic star reliever Pedro Luis Lazo.

While the qualifiers were already decided, the match up between team USA and Cuba still brought out an estimated 45,000 fans at Havana’s Latinoamericano Stadium, in a game also watched by a national TV audience.
Nerves rattled in the first inning as Cuban starter Adiel Palma allowed the first three batters to load the bases on two hits and a hit batter. Manager Rey Vicente Anglada was taking no chances and sent the lefthander “who had won in two previous starts-” to the showers, bringing out righthander Yunieski Maya with the bases full and nobody out.
In spectacular fashion Maya struck out the cleanup hitter, got the fifth batter to roll to third for a force play at home and then closed the inning with another strike out.

While Cuba stranded a runner in the bottom of the first, Maya continued to dominate with his fastball and slider striking out all three batters he faced in the second. However, by the third inning, the hard slugging US batters sent out a warning signal that Maya’s fastball could be hit when Bobby Hill belted a solo homerun which would have been two runs if the leadoff hitter hadn’t been caught stealing.

As Cuba went down in order in the third against US starter righthander Keven Slowey, the team managed by Davey Johnson added three more in the fourth off Maya and Vichyoandri Odelin, including a homer by Michael Bourn off Maya and a two-run double by Mike Kinkade off Odelin.

Cuba left two runners on in the bottom of the fourth and Pedro Luis Lazo came on to pitch for the island in the fifth, charged with holding the US at four runs while Cuba played catch up. Lazo retired the side in the fifth and Cuba managed a run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI triple by Michel Enriquez who was stranded at third.

In the top of the sixth Bourn led off with his second homer of the night and the score was 5-1, but Cuba wasn’t giving up, loading the bases with nobody out in the sixth. Two sacrifice grounders put the score at 5-3 but outfielders Carlos Tabares and Giorvis Duvergel were unable to come up with the clutch hits off reliever Cox.

Then, in the seventh, Cuba finally caught up 5-5 after a two-run double by first baseman Alexander Mayeta. When it looked like the US might fall behind, reliever Lee Gronkiewicz, with a deadly change up, got DH Osmani Urrutia to fly out and catcher Ariel Pestano struck out to put out the fire.

In the eighth it was the US long ball that produced the winning runs as Brandon Wood hit a two run blast off Lazo, who also gave up another solo shot to pinch hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchi in the ninth.

USA Closer Henry Owens had little trouble in the bottom of the ninth giving up a lone single to Frederich Cepeda who went 4 for 4. In all, Cuba left 10 runners on base and its near perfect pitching during the first eight games of the tournament was rocked for 14 hits.

CANADA TO GET ANOTHER CHANCE FOR BEIJING

After defeating Nicaragua 3-1 Tuesday to finish fourth in the tournament, Canada and Mexico (third) will get one more shot at Beijing at a qualifier in Taipei to be held in March 2008. The Canadians won a tough pitching duel between Chirs Begg and lefthander Oswaldo Mairena, who struck out nine in seven innings.

Michael Saunders knocked in Canada’s first run with a double and its last with a single. Begg stuck out five and walked one in 6.1 innings. The loss was costly for the Nicaraguans who also lost a chance to attend the next World Cup.
In other final day action, Mexico beat Panama 10-7 backed by five home runs and Venezuela defeated the Dominican Republic 8-2

The final standings after round two put the US first at 6-1 followed by Cuba 6-1, Mexico 5-2, Canada 4-3, Venezuela 3-4, Panama and Nicaragua 2-5, and the Dominican Republic 0-7. The second round standings does not include the two games played against the teams eliminated in the first round.

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