By Miguel Guerra
It is no less true that the level of Cuban baseball has declined enormously in recent years. Many factors have been influential in this evident decline, one that has undoubtedly been present is the large number of baseball players who have left the island in search of a better future in another country, since the economic and social situation in Cuba is increasingly More serious.
These circumstances have affected all spheres of society in the country, therefore, sports have not been excluded. Aspects such as sports resources are increasingly scarce, the ball stadiums are several in serious condition and others do not receive essential repairs, much less new infrastructures are implemented.
Especially in international events, the difference in the quality of baseball on the island has been appreciated, to the point that for several years a Cuban team has not won a major tournament.
How much do you think Cuban pitching lacks in international tournaments?
“Well, I think that what Cuban pitching lacks in those tournaments is facing more quality players. I remember that in 1996 and 1998, Cuba beat everyone else, and the players had quality, but we went to Japan and played many games with top-level Japanese teams, so we improved.”
“But if we continue to play with lower quality teams, we are not going to solve the problem. Not only the pitchers, the players also have to play in higher quality leagues and face higher quality pitchers as well.”
“In Cuba there is a lot of quality, but for example the pitcher in Cuba knows what Cepeda hits, so he can put him out comfortably, but when they go to an international event he does not know how the opponent hits and then it is more difficult to get him out.”
“But if we manage to get Cuba to play as a team in a quality foreign league, I think it will be better, if not try to send the best players from the Cuba team to quality leagues and I am sure that we will have results in international events.
It is worth mentioning that Pedro Luis Lazo saved 31 games, won 22 and lost only two games in his interventions with the Cuba team. His international record includes gold medals in three Central American Games and three Intercontinental Cups, likewise he won the gold medal in four Pan American Games and a similar number of World Championships.
The star pitcher from Pinar del Río participated in two World Classics, winning the silver medal in the first edition in 2006. And as if that were not enough, he is the only player in history to play four Olympic finals, winning the gold medal twice.
«I agree with Lazo, three years ago I did not see the National Series, you saw a pitcher of 86 miles and the narrators were amazed, before if you did not throw 90 miles you could not enter the academy».
«The reason why in the last three years the level of baseball has risen has been because of the players who are abroad, Despaigne in Japan, Molinelo in Japan, the other kids in Japan, the Canadian league, those who are sending to Colombia , those who went to the Dominican Republic who did not sign them and turned back, all that was coupled and the quality went up ».
«You have to keep in mind that from 97 to here they are professionals, before we faced amateur baseball, we swept, and then the play was tightened a little. Definitely if more kids continue to go abroad, the level of baseball will continue to rise.
«It is impossible that in the National Series you face 90-mile boys and then in the Classic you face the 97-mile boys, how are they going to hit them? That is the difference”.
Finally, Lazo concluded:
«I believe that in Cuba there are quality pitchers and quality young people aged 23, 24, 25 and 26. There are youth pitchers in Cuba who throw 92 and 93 miles at 17 or 18 years old».
Do you agree with the words of these Cuban pitching greats? You can leave your opinion in the comment box.
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Lazo and Contreras CRITICIZED SERIOUS PROBLEMS of the Cuban pitching