[Marxism] Cuba enjoys truly unique experience
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Sun Mar 19 20:55:52 MST 2006
(Great! Vibrant! Enthusiastic report! You'll love it!!)
Cuba proves it belongs on the world stage:
03/19/2006 6:10 PM ET
Cuba enjoys truly unique experience
Says semifinal hero Lazo: 'This has been delicious'
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- The look on the face of Cuba second baseman Yulieski
Gourriel during his first batting-practice session at PETCO Park on
Friday spoke volumes.
Standing near the batting cage in what has to be the best park he has
ever set foot in, the phenom couldn't stop smiling and his wandering
eyes looked more like those of a daydreaming 11-year-old than a
21-year-old national hero.
Gourriel and his teammates are one win away from winning the
inaugural World Baseball Classic championship, but it's hard to tell
what the infielder is enjoying more, the common taste of victory or
the unique taste of Americana.
He's not the only one.
"This has been delicious," Cuba pitcher Pedro Lazo said. "Great.
Fantastic. Amazing. The park, the experience, everything. I have had
a great time."
The Cuban team is staying at a five-star hotel near the park and
riding every day to the field in a luxurious charter bus. Garbed in
their traditional warmup gear when not in uniform, the approach to
the competition is distinctly Cuban -- very business-like, almost
robotic. Their approach to almost everything else is very child-like,
"We didn't expect the fans in the stadium rooting for the Cubans,"
outfielder Yoandy Garlobo said. "We didn't know that they appreciated
Cuban baseball because we were playing against Major Leaguers. Cuba
has had a special place in baseball and it seems we have been able to
open doors in this tournament for people to continue to give their
support of Caribbean teams."
That's right. The Cuban national team, believed to be one of the most
serious-minded baseball teams in any nation, is having fun under the
"This is such a great experience for the boys," said team assistant
and translator Caridad Pereira. "They are absorbing everything. They
are so happy. Look at their faces. I am so happy they can experience
The experience for Cuba's baseball team so far has been an enjoyable
one. With victories against Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Saturday's 3-1
win against the Dominican Republic, they are arguably already the top
team in all of Latin America. The experience for those watching Cuba
play for the first time has also been an eye-opening experience.
Just like in the Major Leagues, Cuban players laugh and joke around
before the start of most games. Unlike in the Major Leagues, Cuban
players are always aware that a country official is watching them so
they choose their words carefully.
Semi-mandatory postgame and pregame press conferences during the
World Baseball Classic for other teams are semi-optional press
conferences for Cuba. From the players to management, they speak when
they want to speak -- no more and no less -- and it is always in
Moreover, if it is decided by Cuban officials that the team wants to
change its allotted practice time, they change it or don't have a
workout at all, like they did Sunday. If the Cuban officials decide
it is a good idea to visit the Habitat for Humanity project near
PETCO Park like they also did Sunday, that's what they do.
During the Habitat for Humanity visit, players signed the frame of a
home that will benefit a family displaced by Hurricane Katrina, and
they seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves. There were jokes,
laughter and even interviews with local and national media granted.
It was fun -- in any language and any country. It's hard to blame
them for being in good spirits.
"The Cuban team is feeling great," Cuba press officer Pedro Cabrera
said. "The aspirations we had when we left Havana have been
multiplied. Each day the spirits of the team has been lifted. We are
at 100 percent and ready to play an excellent game against Japan."
It shows. On and off the field.
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not
subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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