Image: The Cyclist by Goncharova
It is our game: we tried four times to play but we kept getting rained out by May showers. But with an inexhaustible effort, we were finally able to have Villa Clara qualify for the Cuban national baseball finals.
Without a care, experienced manager Eduardo Martin helped his team beat the current island champions, Santiago de Cuba, in 7 games. This all accomplished even without such stellar players as Eduardo Paret (family issues) and Juan Yasser Serrano and Dayán Viciedo, both of whom escaped Cuba to play in one of the best leagues in the world: the US Major Leagues.
After Santiago de Cuba, they faced down Ciego de Ávila, and the task turned out to be even easier as they eliminated the team in only 5 games. Though both teams truly went head to head, there could be only one winner. The fans exploded in cheers where in the middle of the ninth inning Ramon Lunar hit a hard ball straight to Vladimir García, thought of as the best short stop in the league. Garcia tied the record for most saves in a season at 39. Morón’s pitcher, who let loose 96 and 98 mile-per-hour strikes and walked a player on an 85 mile-per-hour pitch, lost three out of the four games in that series.
For many people this was a total upset. Ciego de Ávila was one of the best teams, having 64 wins this season. But when it came right down to it, they just didn’t have what it takes to win. Once again, Ciego de Ávila will have to watch the playoffs from the sidelines.
I’m not sure the fans will be satisfied with Third place in the standing, although it’s certainly the best they’ve done in years. We al thought this was their year. All year, it was the best team in the three regions for pitching, runs, everything. But the playoffs are a whole different ballgame, as they say!
Now, as it stands Villa Clara are in the championship series opposite Havana’a best, who themselves beat the favorites in their semi-finals, Pinar del Río, in fours games of a best of seven. To predict who will be Cuba’s new champion is not an easy task. But I’m taking a stab at it: I think that the best pitcher being with Havana will certainly tilt the scales in their favor. Now let’s sit back and see!
Pablo Pachoco: Canaleta Prison
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