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For the first time ever, Cuban baseball out of Olympic competition

Yariel Rodriguez peloteroCuba, once again, was defeated by Canada. The national team had a chance against the northerners, just as was the case against Venezuela, but came up short in attention to the details, that count big-time in baseball.

There were too many mistakes for a game of vital importance: The opening pitcher failed again and was replaced in the first inning; the big hits did not arrive at crucial moments; the defense didn’t play its role, especially at home plate despite the efforts of Yovani Alarcón catching the devilish pitches of Yariel Rodríguez.

The Cuban batters made more hits than the opponents, but without producing runs, failing to do this job, because, among other issues, our players went with the same swing for every pitch, without considering the characteristics of each one. This should have been resolved before the tournament, during training, which was apparently inadequate, once again, as has occurred in recent years, leaving us with the feeling that we have missed opportunities and potential that is untapped.

The Canadians, on the other hand, were able to adjust their batting mechanics, responding differently to a fast or breaking ball, focused on making contact and not necessarily a home run.

Clearly we have not learned how to beat Canada since the last time we did so was on October 20, in the long-ago year of 2011, in the Guadalajara Pan American Games.

Yariel Rodríguez deserves our applause for allowing only two runs during the six and a third innings he pitched, making 11 strike-outs, giving up four walks and the same number of hits. His work was not matched by the offense given the shortcomings cited above.

Since baseball has its magic, Armando Ferrer made the courageous move to replace his man with the most contact, sending in Frederich Cepeda, who, at 2-0, went hard for the ball – because that’s why he was there – to bring in a run and give us another heart-stopping end, with Yordanis Samón swinging like a samurai. An error by the pitcher left home plate open for the fifth run, with the tie on base.

Lisbán Correa, making his debut on the national team, stepped up to take on the responsibility, only to suffer the most painful strike-out of his entire career. Although this is the image we are left, the last out, the worse had already been done.

But let us hold our heads high, because baseball will continue to call us, a game that has the virtue of giving us lots of joy, as well as suffering like this. We must rethink ourselves, based on the scientific assets that contribute to the organization of a competitive system that – on our own home field and with the contributions of our principal figures playing in professional leagues abroad – makes possible the jubilation we continue to expect, and do not renounce.

The score leaves Cuban baseball out of Olympic competition, for the first time, since the sport was included in the Barcelona Games of 1992. Now holding the record for participation is Japan, guaranteed an appearance as the host country.

(Taken from Granma)

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