Monthly Archives: March 2013

WBC Report 8: Diversion

WBC.2013.USA cartoon
Everyone has been asking me all week – “what is wrong with Cuban baseball since the Cubans were not able to make the WBC finals?” Well I have a question in response – what is the matter with USA baseball if the MLB-studded American team can not make the WBC finals? I hope everyone noticed that the USA (3-3) had a worse record in this year’s Classic than Cuba (4-2), and the Americans also have a poorer overall record in the composite three WBC tournaments combined than do the 13-7 Cubans. – Peter C. Bjarkman. [We won’t mention the record of Baseball Canada.]

Peter C. Bjarkman

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WBC Report 7: Cuban players never gave up and fought to the end

The Cuban players never gave up and fought to the end. Team Cuba salutes fans at San Juan’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium after a 2006 WBC game

Team Cuba salutes fans at San Juan’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium after a 2006 WBC game

By OSCAR SÁNCHEZ SERRA, Special correspondent, Granma

TOKYO.—“Only one person is responsible for the defeat, and that is me, players don’t lose games, I lose them. The coach has the maximum responsibility,” affirmed Víctor Mesa. Continue reading

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WBC Report 6: In defence of Cuban baseball

A single picture is often worth 1000-plus words. The true status of Cuban baseball.

A single picture is often worth 1000-plus words. The true status of Cuban baseball?

Cuba fell short in the World Baseball Classic, writes PETER C. BJARKMAN*, but it is now the only country playing in the Classic with only its home-grown and home-trained national talent. “There are many of us on the outside of Cuba looking in whose love of Cuban baseball is not tied solely to winning… they are the last vestige of a pure baseball – a sport that is still sport and not big business or staged television entertainment, a game played for passion and not merely for dollars.” 

WBC.2013.logo(March 12, 2013 from Tokyo, Japan) – FOR MANY it was the most devastating among a slew of painful eleventh-hour losses for recent editions of the once dominant but now somewhat tarnished Cuban national team. There have been many such defeats in recent years – the 2008 Olympic finals (versus Korea) in Beijing; the 2009 World Cup finale (USA) in Nettuno; the 2010 Pre-Mundial championship setback (with the Dominicans) in San Juan; and the final-edition 2011 World Cup gold medal loss (Netherlands) in Panama. These defeats reflect little more than the new world order of international baseball, where talented but no longer untouchable Cuban teams are now forced play against some of the best young stars (and even seasoned veterans) drawn from North American professional ball clubs; the near misses do not (despite all the ceaseless wailings in the Cuban press) signal any major failings of the Cuban baseball system itself, or any catastrophic drop-off in the level of Cuban talent. This year’s Cuban Classic team showcased more top-level young prospects than any island squad of the past decade. True there was a visible shortage of normally strong Cuban pitching in the end, but the final reality is that we no longer live in 1970s or ‘80s world, in which each opponent quakes and crumbles in the presence of the once unrivaled Cuban arsenal. Continue reading

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WBC Report 5: Cuba eliminated by Holland in 7-6 thriller

By CIRCLES ROBINSON

Holland defeats Cuba 7-6 and moves on to the semifinals of WBC III. The team is composed of West Indian players. Photo: cubadebate.cu

Holland defeats Cuba 7-6 and moves on to the semifinals of WBC III. The team is composed of West Indian players. Photo: cubadebate.cu

HAVANA TIMES (March 11, 2013) – Team Cuba lost a seesaw do-or-die game to Holland 7-6 on Monday and leaves the third World Baseball Classic unable to advance to the semifinal round, similar to what happened in the last tournament in 2009.

Kaian Sams hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to give Holland their first ever ticket to a WBC semifinals. Continue reading

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Israel: Where soccer fans boo their own players when they score

Supporters of Beitar Jerusalem hold a banner reading “Beitar will always remain pure.” | Reuters/Stringer

Supporters of Beitar Jerusalem hold a banner reading “Beitar will always remain pure.” | Reuters/Stringer

By DAVE ZIRIN

“It’s not racism. They just shouldn’t be here.”

Not even in the earliest days of Jackie Robinson’s 1947 historic debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers did Brooklyn’s white fans walk out after number 42 stole a base or hit a home run. The Brooklyn faithful’s love of “Dem Bums” trumped any racism that simmered in the stands. What does it say that sixty-six years later, Israeli fans of the soccer club Beitar Jerusalem have not evolved to postwar-Brooklyn standards of human decency? Continue reading

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Letter: Coverage of university sport pathetic

CARLETON University Ravens won the annual CIS men’s basketball championship on March 10th, defeating surprise co-finalist Lakehead University 92-42 at the tournament in Ottawa. The team entered the history books, winning their record-breaking ninth championship. The Ottawa Gee-Gees beat the Acadia Axemen 92-85 in the bronze-medal game. Judging from the print media, you’d hardly know any other college tournament was underway except that of the U.S. NCAA “March Madness” – and it is still to begin. Even on the websites, the story was buried while the woeful Toronto Raptors and the U.S. college rankings were given top billing. In this context we are reprinting a letter to the Montreal Gazette and published March 8th from the athletic directors of McGill, Concordia and Bishop’s universities in Quebec denouncing the lack of coverage of university athletics in the monopoly media. As if to prove the directors correct, the newspaper illustrated the letter with an action photo – taken from a 2009 match between Concordia and McGill. The blackout by the Montreal Gazette is by no means unique. All those involved in sport should raise their voices against the media discrimination against Canadian amateur sport. Continue reading

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WBC Report 4: Cuban ‘Classic’ miracle now possible

Outfielder Yasmany Tomas #27 of Cuba hits a three run home run in the top half of the sixth inning during the World Baseball Classic Second Round Pool 1 game between Chinese Taipei and Cuba at Tokyo Dome on March 9, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan | Koji Watanabe/Getty Images AsiaPac

utfielder Yasmany Tomas #27 of Cuba hits a three run home run in the top half of the sixth inning during the World Baseball Classic Second Round Pool 1 game between Chinese Taipei and Cuba at Tokyo Dome on March 9, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan | Koji Watanabe/Getty Images AsiaPac

By PETER C BJARKMAN*

WBC.2013.logoMarch 10, 2013 (from Tokyo, Japan) – FOR THE SECOND TIME in seven years Team Cuba now sits poised to pull off a World Baseball Classic “miracle run” designed once more to underscore the true quality of post-aluminum-bat and post-amateur-era island baseball. It now all comes down to one final rematch on Monday night with either the Dutch or Japanese (it will be the Jaanese– ed.) – this time with a trip to San Francisco as the ultimate prize. One more victory and Cuba will join Japan and Korea as the only three clubs so far to reach the final championship round of the MLB Classic on multiple occasions. Continue reading

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