A dynasty is formed
Cuban baseball’s 60th National Series is already history. Granma’s victory over Matanzas in the sixth game of the final gave the Eastern team his third crown in the last five years to establish a new dynasty in national sport.
An atypical campaign, without fans in the stadiums, with a schedule cut to 75 games, was also followed by an atypical postseason, played in bubble stadiums, without reinforcements, with mandatory stops by players infected by the coronavirus, and also contemplated only from the television screen.
Postseason outcomes, on the other hand, did not offer too many surprises, except perhaps the defeat, in the quarter-finals, of Sancti Spíritus, first in the regular campaign leaderboard, by Pinar del Río, who had occupied the eighth position. In the other pareos of the first playoff, Matanzas defeated Cienfuegos; Las Tunas a Santiago; and Granma to Industrialists. This last confrontation was the most contested of that phase.
Granma y Matanzas defeated Pinar el Río and Las Tunas, respectively, in the sixth game – in both cases – of the semi-final stage, although with the difference that the thugs had lost the first two matches, a situation similar to that experienced in the final against Granma’s ensemble.
Matanzas came to the concluding fight with several cards for favoritism: to be the defending champion; having shown superior offensive might, and have a squad made up of more mature players, including three players who have gone through MLB and were decisive in the semi-final: Yadir Drake, Yadil Mujica and Erisbel Arruebarruena.
Granma, for his part, after progressing to the final phase had several cases of Covid-19 in his ranks, which is why the start of the playoff was delayed; that contingency seemed like a factor against the team’s aspirations. They were in his favor: to have contested a strong campaign; have the most winning pitcher on the island today, Lazarus White; and having two gardeners whose blank in other leagues has made them grow a lot as platoons: Roel Santos and Raico Santos. The three of them were joined by the overflowing batting of the young Guilllermo García. Between the four of them they tipped the scales. His contributions were fundamental.
But they weren’t Granma’s only arguments for his victory. Although neither set exhibited a good monticular body, Matanzas’s behaved worse, and although neither address has shone, there too those from the East took advantage. On two occasions – in the fourth and sixth games – in which Matanzas was on the scoreboard, his director was misguided in handling the pitchers. And it cost dearly.
It wasn’t a brilliant final like it wasn’t an attractive postseason. Too many tactical and strategy mistakes were seen, of plays that show how much Cuban baseball has been left behind, such as the continuous touches of ball in any game situation, in any entry. Who thinks that with such poor mound bodies, the ball touch is ordered as often, as if one or two races were enough to win a game. It’s absurd.
The low level of baseball seen in the National Series leaves very little hope for qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics. Now the executives of this sport are summoning Cubans who play in other leagues, except MLB, to make up the national team, but few signs of reaction have been seen. After so long demonizing the diaspora’s players, nothing else can be expected.
Except for a miracle, Cuban baseball will not be represented at the upcoming Olympic Games; nor in the paris 2024, because this sport will not participate there. Maybe in Los Angeles 2028, but it’s a long time away. For now, there are many things to solve in the Cuban league and its structures. They need a total renovation.