Daring in baseball: Tripping over the same structure again

Honestly, I had abandoned the idea of judging how the National Baseball Championship should be, until I fortuitously heard the current National Commissioner and former great pitcher from Jatibonico, Yovani Aragon, communicate that the next national series would have the same structure as the current and previous ones, uncommendable in their development, exhausting for the athletes and costly.

If sometimes it has been repeated that this season has been the most successful for the influx of spectators, one should not forget that two of the eight teams qualified are Industriales and Pinar del Rio, which attract sympathy, especially the first, across the nation, from Mantua to Baracoa, passing through Jatibonico, where many at the stadium named after Genaro Melero –still alive at that time– were hopeful of a victory of Industriales over Villa Clara (which today’s town of Sancti Spiritus belonged to, after being removed from Camagüey), but asthma played a dirty trick on dominant Lazaro Valle.

And about four years ago, during an argument at Alex’s barber shop, in Zone 7 of Alamar, one of the clients suggested a single and original tournament, much less costly, and at the end, in a couple of years, at most, it would be attractive and palliate the continued absences and lack of baseballs, leg guards, etc, as a result of the difficult economic development and the aggressive imperialist attitude, with the open aim to suffocate us in all spheres of life.

Likewise, we should put aside all those mannerisms and mental flatulences on derbies, classics, and that non-original idea of the “wild cards”, and that final merit falls on those who play well the baseball stages proposed.

THE PROPOSAL

A national championship split into two stages: a regional one –which reduces the costs– and a selective one, which increases the quality.

In the regional stage, there would be 16 teams: six from the West, and five from each of the remaining regions, where they would play among them, aimed at having a champion and a selection.

The challenge would be to find a schedule for the zone where six teams would get involved, geared at matching the number of games and the similar date of the general termination.

The champion is also reinforced within the zone and should choose at least the first two players of the total number agreed to choose.

The six teams will play in the second stage that should run in the months of our autumn and winter, and will contribute the champion due to be reinforced for the Caribbean Series. .

It’s foreseen that the long, exhausting and costly trips will be avoided in the first stage. The champions, of course, will take the names of the winners in the different regions, and the selections could be Eastern, Central and Western.

Regarding the uniforms, the champion, of course, wears its own, but the selections can wear a uniform with the name of the selection, and another with the name of the team they belonged to in the first stage, so variety and team of origin are established.

“The form of games, number and clashes, etc, are decided previous study, because, he remarked, the western region has one more team, and except if it is champion, a team from the Isle of Youth should never travel to Santiago de Cuba, for example”.

We should not fall in paternalism if a zone is weaker than another or, for example, place Sancti Spiritus in the West, because the local authorities of each province are responsible for developing baseball from the grassroots, taking care of the baseball fields and preparing the whole logistics for that purpose, mainly to fete the visitor. What will be missing? Daring!

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

  • Published in Specials

Seven-Inning Baseball?

Not the first time the topic is approached, and by the same person, because the chairman of the World Confederation of Baseball and Softball, Italian Ricardo Fraccari has been long pleading for changes in the rules so that, baseball especially becomes more attractive in countries where is not practiced regularly, and stays in the official program of the Olympic Games.

After appearing uninterruptedly since Barcelona-1992 until Beijing-2008, this sport will return to the Olympic games of Tokyo-2020, but Fraccari wants it to stay for good. Fraccari has considered vital the introduction of a few changes to do it more attractive and especially, shorter in time-consuming.

He insists, and he is certainly right about it that the dynamics of current times is that the youth worldwide is not willing to spend more than three hours watching a ball game, when at the same time other sports are on.

That is the main reason for which he has promoted changes, and the most polemic and radical is to downsize the baseball to seven innings.

Purists fall off their seats, but the question here is to be or not to be. Do we prefer to respect rules but remain on the sidelines of the Games? Those who wish to be in the Games must adapt, and the most radical measure is in fact the one of reducing innings.

In his condition as member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Fraccari realized that doping cases or the lack of the most upper-class professionals was not a big problem, because that also affects other sports. However, in a board of European majority, from countries that don’t play baseball massively, the time used is a key factor. Also, other sports have made important modifications to their rules, but not baseball, and that is also seen as an expression of willing to adapt.

On the other hand, baseball keeps the same rules of its origins, and the little changes done to shorten the time of the game (base on balls with a pitch, chronometer for pitchers, etc.) have not produced a remarkable change in the duration of matches, as it would certainly do to play only seven innings.

I particularly like baseball as it is, but as I mentioned at the beginning, it’s to adapt or die, and I’d rather like the Olympic tournament to be played to seven innings, before none is played. Boxing has different rules in its Olympic style, soccer has age limit, basketball also modifies its rules regarding professionals, however, they are included in the Olympic Games, and it’s enjoyed with its variants.

Baseball could do it too, and keep these regulations only for the Games and its classificatory tournaments. In the end, statistically most challenges are decided before the eighth inning, although to the eye what’s left are the spectacular plays of the ninth inning, or beyond.

It would be a remarkable change, actually, but less traumatic than the other variants on the table, as to leave the count in two strikes and three balls, or similar proposals.

It’s to be or not to be in the Olympic Games, and I’d rather be, although that’s the price to pay for it.

  • Published in Sports

U.S. Falls to Cuba, 7-2

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
USA Baseball 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 6 1
Cuba 0 3 0 0 2 0 2 0 0 7 13 1
Win: Dachel Duquesne Loss: Gianluca Dalatri
Box Score | Play by Play | Cumulative Stats | Series Stats

CARY, N.C. - Andrew Vaughn and Tyler Frank each drove in a run as the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team fell to Cuba, 7-2, on Thursday in the fourth game of the sixth USA vs. Cuba International Friendship Series from Bill Coleman Field. This marks the first loss for the United States in international play this summer but the U.S. still holds a 3-1 lead in the best-of-five series.

Cuba scored three runs in the second inning for the opening runs of the game led by Juan Torriente singling in a run and Yoelkis Cespedes hitting a RBI-double. Cuba pushed its lead to 5-0 in the fifth inning as Norel Gonzalez and Torriente each drove in a run.

Trailing 7-0 in the ninth inning, the U.S. would score its only runs of the game. Steele Walker started the inning with a base hit up the middle followed by Seth Beer drawing a walk. Vaughn would plate Walker with a single to center field and Beer would cross home on a Frank sacrifice fly to deep center field.

Dachel Duquesne earned the win for Cuba tossing 7.0 scoreless innings scattering three hits with five strikeouts. Team USA's Gianluca Dalatri suffered the loss allowing three runs on six hits with two punch outs over 4.0 innings. Sean Wymer threw 4.0 innings in relief for the U.S. allowing four runs on seven hits with two strikeouts.

The U.S. team ended the game with two runs on six hits with one error, while Cuba finished with seven runs on 13 hits and one error.

The United States and Cuba will play the series finale of the sixth USA vs. Cuba International Friendship Series on Friday at 6:05 p.m. from Bill Coleman Field at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.

The series is sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Confederation.

  • Published in Sports

USA Walks Off in Series Opener Against Cuba, 5-4

Cuba 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 4 3 0
USA Baseball 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 5 11 0
Win: Ryley Gilliam Loss: Leomil Gonzales
Box Score | Play by Play | Cumulative stats | Series Stats

CARY, N.C. - Seth Beer drove in the game-winning run in the 10th inning, while Steele Walker went 4-for-5 and Travis Swaggerty recorded two RBIs as the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team earned a walk-off win over Cuba, 5-4, in extra innings on Sunday in the series opener of the sixth USA vs. Cuba Friendship Series from Bill Coleman Field.

After nine innings of play and the score tied 2-2, the two teams went into extra innings and played under international tie-breaking rules with runners on first and second base and no outs. The U.S. trailed 4-2 heading into the bottom of the 10th inning when Nick Madrigal led off with a base hit to load the bases. Swaggerty would then draw a bases-loaded walk followed by Walker hitting a line drive through the right side to tie the game. That set up Beer who lifted a 1-2 pitch into right field to plate Madrigal for the game-winning run.

The United States jumped out to a 2-0 advantage as Swaggerty scored on a wild pitch in the first inning and then drove in Madrigal with a single to right field in the third inning.

Cuba tied the game in the top of the fourth inning as Raul Gonzalez hit a solo home run to left field followed by Yordoni Samon hitting a RBI-single up the middle.

Patrick Raby tossed 4.0 shutout innings in relief without allowing a hit and tallied one strikeout. Starting pitcher Konnor Pilkington threw 4.0 innings allowing two runs on three hits with one strikeout. Ryley Gilliam earned the win after throwing the 10th inning and did not allow a hit.

The U.S. team ended the game with five runs on 11 hits with no errors, while Cuba finished with four runs on three hits and no errors.

The United States and Cuba will play game two of the sixth USA vs. Cuba International Friendship Series on Monday at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park with first pitch set for 6:30 p.m.

The series is sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Confederation.

  • Published in Sports

Cuban National Team at Can-Am League: Of setbacks and other demons

It could look like a remake of the Cuban team's performance in the last season of the Can-Am Independent Baseball League, judging by the performance shown so far.

Let’s recall that the players commanded by Roger Machado managed to achieve an adverse 3-7 balance, before ending with 11-9, barely above the .500 mark.

Well, after impeccably starting with 3 wins, the Cuban squad has collapsed in its performance and achieved 4 setbacks in a row vs. the Quebec Capitales, sign that the pitching, mainly the opening staff, is not well.

Without being pessimistic, we made an objective analysis, taking into account several statistics, before our team finished its subseries vs. the Capitales, which, by the way, ranks second in the tournament, with a 17-8 balance. The Rockland Boulders (19-7) are reigning, while the tricolor team is in fourth position, behind the New Jersey Jackals (15-10), and the team representing the Dominican Republic had been unable to win in five games.

* At bats *

Let's start with the offensive, a logical matter, since ball games are won with runs. If we judged by general indicators such as batting average (.313, with 84 hits in 268 times at bat), runs scored and RBI (35-31), extra bases (14 doubles and 3 home runs), plus 13 walks allowed and 47 strikeouts. The team is not on the wrong course, except for the excessive number of struckout players in seven games. Add to this a poor .399 slugging and a .350 base percentage. These last two figures, at first
glance, show that the insular squad does not have men of high and recognized offensive caliber, nor have they properly exploited speed on the basis of the offensive, because its base percentage exhibits only 2 base steals in an equal number of attempts.

We can also add they left 29 men on base in their 4 losses, an issue reflecting that once again the hitters have been dominated in tension situations with runners on base, even with several runs behind in the score.

Individually, Juan Carlos Torriente (.393 (28-11), 5 RBI), Yosvany Alarcón (.375 (16-6), 3 doubles and 4 RBI), Yordanis Samón (.355 (31-11) with 4 RBI), and Guillermo Avilés (.345 (29-10) with 2 doubles, 1 home run and 5 RBI) have been the best hitters.

*The suffering on the hill…*

The pitching staff allowing an ERA of 6.20, opponents hitting .303 BA, and the WHIP 1.79, plus 10 HRs allowed, left no room for hope.

The cornerstone of Cuban losses is the starting pitching. Vladimir Banos, Yoannis Yera, Dachel Duquesne, and Ulfrido Garcia have not been able to get the job done. Mid relievers and closers have not performed any better.

The stats show it: 61 innings, 71 hits allowed, 48 earned runs allowed. The K-BB ratio is 32-58. More than 4 walks per game in too much.

Some Cuban players were among the top in the offensive department. Torriente is second in BA (.393). Yordan Manduley tops the list with (.415). He plays for the Capitals. RHP Jose Ramon Rodriguez ranks 4th among pitchers with a very good ERA 2.46. The leader is Granma’s Lazaro Blanco, playing now for the Quebec Capitals with ERA 2.25.

We have still 14 games ahead. It is a very tough schedule. We trust Cuba can recover and get used to the pace of the Can Am League. We hope our team can meet the goal of finishing the competition above the .500 mark.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

  • Published in Cuba

Cuban Participation in Can-Am Baseball League

Canadian officials will arrive in Cuba to evaluate the participation of a Cuban baseball team in the independent Can-Am League and the possible Cuban ballplayers hiring.

The Can-Am league delegation is headed by its Vice President and owner of Quebec Capitals baseball team, Michel Laplante, who will meet tomorrow and on Thursday with some directors of the National Baseball Department and National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER).

At the meeting, Cuban baseball team's second-year participation in the Can-Am baseball league, which is played in several Canadian and US cities, will be debated.

Likewise, the issue on hiring Cuban ballplayers will be also dealt with due to the interest of some Can-Am teams, as happened in previous edition.

On the other hand, among the newest issues they highlighted the invitation of an Under-18 baseball team to a youth championship, based in Quebec.

Both parties will hold a press conference on Friday at Adolfo Luque Hall of the Latinoamericano Ballpark.

In previous season, in addition to the Cuban baseball team which had 11 wins and nine losses, a great deal of Cuban ballplayers were hired and included in different Canadian baseball teams´ lineup.

For this season, Can-Am Baseball League is scheduled to begin from May 18 to September 17, with the participation of some other international baseball teams.

  • Published in Sports

Baseball: Matanzas sets record of wins in Cuban National series

Matanzas became the new record-holder of wins in a 90-game season of the Cuban National Baseball Series by reaching 67 victories when knocking out 16-1 Granma, surpassing the previous record set by Industriales (66) in 2003.

Lefty Irandy Castro (5-1) earned the win while Yanier Gonzalez got his sixth loss and there were offensive highlight for Yordanis Samon, Erwin Caballero and Yasiel Santoya, who all homered for the cause of the Crocodiles.

Thus, the squad managed by Victor Mesa swept away Granma after allowing them only two runs in this sub-series, they had already won Saturday´s two games (10-0 and 6-1), and also increased their winning streak to six.

DH Samon now appears leader in several stats such as hits (124), doubles (26), RBIs (74), runs (63) and total bases (183).

In Sunday other games, Holguín beat Villa Clara 7-6 and Camagüey defeated 8-7 the defending champion Ciego de Avila.

However, these results did not change the standings, so, with only one subseries left, it is almost certain that Ciego de Avila and Villa Clara to be the other opponents in the opening of the postseason.

Standings

G W L AVE DIF Streak L-10
MTZ 87 67 20 .770 - + 6 8-2
CAV 87 56 31 .644 11,0 - 2 4-6
VCL 87 50 37 .575 17,0 - 1 5-5
GRA 87 48 39 .552 19,0 - 3 2-8
HOL 87 42 45 .483 25,0 + 1 6-4
CMG 87 38 49 .437 29,0 + 2 5-5

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FIBA to Evaluate Creation of New Basketball Confederation in Brazil

Brasilia, 26 Dec (Prensa Latina) An official at the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), José Luiz Sáez, has proposed that a new Brazilian confederation be created to put an end the crisis facing the sport in the South American nation.

Sáez's proposal is to disband the FIBA Brazilian Basketball Confederation (CBB) - suspended since last November due to debts totaling millions of dollars - and create another entity free of debts in its place.

According to the UOL news site, one of the main points in discusssion is who would assume liability for the debt of 17 million reais (more than five million dollars) left by the disastrous management of Carlos Nunes, at the close of 2015.

This is not the first time a Brazilian federation has had to be disbanded due to mismanagement, the on-line news site also cited the example of the Brazilian Sailing and Motor Confederation.

In an official note at that time of suspension, the Brazilian Confederation said that it was surprised by the action,but understand the position of the FIBA and would not appeal its decision.

In January, FIBA will meet again to reevaluate the situation.

  • Published in Sports
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