[Marxism] In Cuba, It Doesn't Get Bigger Than the Classic (NYT)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue Mar 21 00:49:46 MST 2006

(Slime-bag journalism at its most unctuously nauseating, in prime
form so that you can virtually smell the foul writing all the way
through to your computer. The Cubans were defeated by the Japanese
team because the Japanese played better baseball tonight. In a way,
the first paragraph says it all. Under capitalism, baseball teams
are the private property of individuals. It's that very private
property system which the New York Slimes would reimpose on Cuba. 

(And the New York Slimes plays the same sour tune they've been
playing on their discordant instruments for decades. Fuck the New
York Slimes. Viva Cuba! Congratulations to the Japanese team!)

March 21, 2006
On Baseball
In Cuba, It Doesn't Get Bigger Than the Classic


IF George Steinbrenner were the owner of the Cuban national team,
Higinio Velez would know not to report for work today. As it is, the
real boss of the Cuban team may tell Higinio Velez not to report for
work the next time the players on the Cuban national team assemble
for a practice or a game.

Higinio Velez is the manager of Cuba, and he made two pitching
decisions last night in a game at Petco Park that helped make Japan
champions of the inaugural World Baseball Classic. Japan won, 10-6,
because Cuba was unable to overcome a four-run first inning that
resulted from Velez's pitching decisions.

Now maybe Velez shouldn't be blamed at all. His pitchers undermined
him with their terrible pitching. Velez didn't throw a pitch. But,
Steinbrenner would reason, Velez was the one who put Ormari Romero
and Vicyohandry Odelin in the position to throw the pitches that made
them terrible.

Romero and Odelin would have made it necessary for Steinbrenner to
issue an apology after the loss. Despite their poor pitching, Fidel
Castro is not likely to make a public statement of rebuke. Whether
Velez retains his job is another matter.

This is a manager under whom Cuba won the World Cup three times and
the Olympic Games, the Intercontinental Cup and the Pan American
Games once each, all in a four-year span. Joe Torre hasn't done as

Velez first managed the national team in 1987 but left the position
and didn't return to it until 2001. A Cuban reporter said that Velez
went to Italy to run a Cuban training program there, explaining that
he needed an easier position because he was stressed. My Cuban
colleague didn't use that word, but that's what it sounded like.

If Velez was stressed then, when he was 19 years younger, think of
his emotional state when he gets home and has to explain to Fidel's
sports lieutenants what happened here. Steinbrenner, of course,
wouldn't have waited for his manager to get home. He would have
called him in his office after the game and told him not to get on
the plane.

Anyway, here was Cuba poised to embarrass the United States, Castro's
most bitter enemy. Here was a propaganda prize waiting to be snatched
along with the 30-pound Tiffany trophy. Here was Castro prepared to
deliver yet another two-hour address celebrating the triumph of
communism over capitalism. And Velez and his pitchers blew it.

Because Cuba played in the final and the United States didn't even
reach the semifinals, because Cuba played in the final and major
league players from four W.B.C. teams earning $471 million this year
didn't, Castro can still extol the virtues of his system, but it
won't be the same.

Where did Velez go wrong? Let us count the ways.

First he started Romero. Never mind that Romero started and won two
games earlier in the Classic, allowing one run in eight and a third
innings. The guy is 38 years old, the oldest player on the team. He
would have been better off at home in Santiago de Cuba, drinking a
glass of warm milk.

And when it was obvious that Romero was teetering on ancient legs,
Velez summoned Odelin, who in one start and two relief appearances
had allowed six runs (five earned) in eight innings. Had Steinbrenner
owned this team, Odelin would have never dressed for the championship
game. Steinbrenner would have told him he injured his arm and ordered
him to go directly to the disabled list.

Romero lasted only four batters and 23 pitches. He started off well,
retiring the first batter, but then Japan loaded the bases on two
infield singles sandwiched around a walk. Velez yanked him in what
surely must have been the quickest hook of the l Classic.

The suddenly stressed-again manager called for Odelin, who lasted 4
batters and 19 pitches. He hit the first batter, forcing in the first
run, struck out the next but then walked the third batter he faced,
sending home another run.

Toshiaki Imae was the fourth batter for Odelin, and he became the
last when he singled to center field for two more runs and a 4-0
Japanese lead.

Norberto Gonzalez became the third Cuban pitcher in what turned out
to be a 30-minute first inning, and he was brilliant compared with
his two compatriots. In their 42 pitches, Romero and Odelin gave up
four runs, three hits and two walks and hit a batter while getting
two outs. In his first 42 pitches, Gonzalez allowed no runs, one hit
and one walk while getting eight outs.

The Cubans never caught up. They tried valiantly, staging a comeback
that should have made Fidel proud. Despite hitting into double plays
at critical moments in the sixth and seventh innings, Cuba almost
caught up. Frederich Cepeda smacked a two-run home run in the eighth,
closing the gap to 6-5.

In assessing the Cuban players and saying he thought four of them
could play in the major leagues in this country, Peter Bjarkman, who
as an author of three books is an expert on Cuban baseball, said
Cepeda, one of the four, "is probably my favorite player on this

Cepeda, a switch-hitter, is "a big-money player," and a very patient
hitter, Bjarkman said, adding, "He's been a big player in tournaments
for them."

Cepeda also doubled home a run in the sixth, but his big hits weren't
enough to overcome the pitches of Romero and Odelin. Nor those of the
three relievers who gave up the final four runs in the ninth.

* Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

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