Leonardo Padura: “The die is cast”

Baseball, everyone knows, is one of the great passions of the Cuban writer Leonardo Padura (1955). In several of his novels he has expressed his admiration for the sport of balls and strikes.

Given the performance of the Cuban team in the V World Baseball Classic We offer the declarations of the Princess of Asturias Award for Literature (2015), exclusively for OnCuba.

“Luck did its job”

After several —I think many— years, a Cuban baseball team is once again among the first places in a first-level championship. Even if they don’t make it to the Clásico final, being among the four semifinalists is already a success and will be celebrated as such. The Cuban teams were so used to defeat that not having lost —rather than winning, at least in the current context— is already considered a victory.

It is true that luck (which is sometimes crazy, but other times not so much) did its job. From the very preparation of the groups that would compete for the classification, the team Cuban was included in the less demanding key. Then, also with great luck, the five competitors gathered in Taipei won and lost the same number of matches, but the agreed tie-breaking rules gave Cuba first place. Luckily, Australia had beaten Korea. In the quarterfinal matchups, Cuba played against the lowest ranked team and slipped into the four semifinalists.

It is also true that this Cuban team is different from all the ones we have seen in previous competitions. There are more players on the roster playing off-island than in local tournaments—including several playing in the American and Japanese Major Leagues. Some of those who still participate in the Cuban series also do so in professional circuits, especially those in Japan and Mexico.

In other words, the players who play outside the country have a more competitive level than those who are still confined exclusively to the less and less attractive and demanding domestic contests.

“To be lucky, it is not enough just to play”

It is true, among many other possible certainties and due to various reasons, that no team from the American continent assembled for the competition is the best team that each of those countries could present. Cuba is part of that. Many of their best players, of their own free will or by decision of their franchises, are not in the roster of the selection.

And it is also true that when the Cubans had to win or drown, they won, and with that team that they managed to put together, they summoned luck, which on other occasions had been elusive.

The triumphalism unleashed by commentators and official media is supported by what has been happening in the championship, with the arrival of the team to the semifinal instances of the event. And if the ninth advances towards the final game, triumphalism will grow exorbitantly, with some reason.

If it doesn’t advance, then it will be said that it was done very well, better than in all the competitions in recent years, which is an irrefutable fact. And then, with triumphalism on their backs, it will be necessary to recognize that, in order to have a good baseball team, the country has had to accept the participation of professionals on its payroll and that, when this circumstance does not occur, it is most likely that luck don’t remember the team.

Because to be lucky, it’s not just enough to play: you also have to know how to do it.

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Leonardo Padura: "The die is cast"

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