Wednesday, March 22, 2006

WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC (and by the way, the Cuban Team donates winnings to Katrina victims)

As some of you know, Japan beat Cuba 10-6 to win the first ever World Baseball Classic (WBC).

I have to tell you I didn't know what to expect from the WBC, but as a life long lover of the game, the Classic, in my opinion, was a great success. The joy of the fans from around the world seen in the stands was absolutely contagious, as was the excitement of the players themselves.

It was just dang cool.

One thing we learned from the WBC was that the rest of the world is playing baseball the way it used to be played in the US - and we learned that style is a path to good ballplaying. The major leagues used to pitch, catch, run, bunt, and concentrate on moving runners. We used to value speed. We used to focus on sound execution in all phases of the game. The US major leagues now place an almost complete emphasis on power hitting and power pitching. Tape measure home runs and speed gun clocked pitches are the symbols of the current US game.

It turns out it doesn't have to be that way.

The two teams in the finals, Japan and Cuba, played the way we used to play. The most successful team in the tournament by record, Korea (6-1), played that way as well.

The success of the 2005 Chicago White Sox, after a shift in emphasis to pitching and defense, could signal a change in the style of play in the US...maybe.

Anyway, the WBC was great fun and it was great for baseball. I look forward to the 2009 games.

The following is from Prensa Latina.

Cuba Baseball Win Aids Katrina Loss

Havana, Mar 22 (Prensa Latina) In a welcoming ceremony for Cuban baseball players coming in second place at the World Baseball Classic (WBC), President Fidel Castro reiterated the island will donate the prize money to US victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"We are ready to donate that money to Hurricane Katrina victims," he said. The US had refused a Cuban offer to send for free a team of disaster physicians immediately after the storm.

Members of Cuban baseball team attending the WBC return this Wednesday to their respective provinces, a day after arriving in Havana, where the people gave them a huge warm welcome.

The Cuban team finished second in this tournament, defeated by Japan 10-6 in the final game, but beat powerful teams from Panama, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Fidel Castro also slammed Washington´s economic blockade on Cuba for almost 50 years, which bars the island from having income originating in the US.

Initially, the Bush Administration had banned the Cuban team from attending the Classic under the argument it would obtain proceeds from the tournament and that was against the blockade.

Then, the Cuban Baseball Federation responded that it would donate any earnings to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, thus neutralizing Bush´s claim.

The Cuban president expressed thanks for support from other countries like Panama, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Dominican Republic. He also thanked the tournament´s organizers for having invited Cuba.

Fidel also praised "the position of Cuban baseball players, who stayed cool in the face of provocations by a small counterrevolutionary group," in San Juan, capital of Puerto Rico.

In another moment of his speech, the Cuban leader stated that the WBC achieved a victory over the unfair exclusion of this sport in the 2012 London Olympic Games, by showing that it is indeed a world sport.

Fidel Castro said the same amount of money the baseball team did not receive for their performance in the WBC will be earmarked by this government to the Cuban Baseball Federation to continue developing this sport in the island.

The leader closed by saying that none of baseballers or their relatives will want for anything to have a comfortable decent life.

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