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Baseball, revolutions and the honey shot

13 October 2014

The "honey shot" is alive and well for Cuban baseball broadcasts. During breaks in the action, or coming back from one of the few "commercial" breaks --

The TV just showed a dancing crocodile mascot for Mantanzas. The poor

bastard inside ...

-- Anyway, commercials are for upcoming sporting events on Telerebelde and once or twice I've seen PSA-type things about nutrition.

They come back from those and it's gorgeous women fans in the stands, same as the World Cup. It's not surprising from the standpoint that Cuba is obviously a machismo-oriented society (witness whistling, catcalling, entirely obvious ogling, etc.). What IS surprising in a sad kind of way is that it's just like the World Cup. That is, for all the game we Westerners talk about progressive society and women's rights, women are still nice things to show on TV just lookin' pretty.

Palace courtyard

Went to the Museo de Revolucion today. It's in the former Presidential Palace and hooooooo boy, talk about swank. If my presidente lived in a marble and gold palace while I and my countrymen lived in squalor, I'd feel a little revolutionary, too.

Three stories and a huge footprint; great views of the city, and at one point looking over a park out a window with a marble balcony, I wanted to speechify to the comrades about the triumph of the revolution. It probably happens to everyone who looks out at a public square from a dictator's house.

Che's beret

Lots of interesting artifacts from the revolution. It was a bit like a Carmen Sandiego game. "Someone's made off with Che Guevara's beret! It's up to you to find the thief, gumshoe!"

It was definitely living history, especially in the sense that Fidel and Raul are still alive. But also it was closer, more real. 1776 is about 1,000 years ago, but 1957-1959 ... I mean, my mom was alive then.

And the revolution is still going on in its own way. Raul is making changes. Some HUGE, like private transfer of property, businesses, being able to flippin' leave the island ...

This Las Tunas right fielder has a damn cannon for an arm. Last night and tonight I've seen a few 9-2 double plays.

Deep policy analysis: It sucks there's a blockade. Life goes on here -- no es facil, la lucha, etc., but it goes on -- but when does it end?

I remember Cuban-Americans in Florida saying "Oh, well, when Fidel is gone it will change." Well, Fidel has been relaxing in track suits at home for six or seven years now. So now it's "the Castros." "The Castros are still in power! Communism!" *clutches pearls*

According to my Lonely Planet guide, Raul has said he's done in 2018. But what then? "Oh, a successor hand-picked by the Castros!" "Learned at the feet of the Castros!" Etc.? Probably. And meanwhile the people (in both countries) suffer as a result.

I'm clearly an expert after less than a week in-country, so here's some baseball chat.

The Las Tunas left fielder has less of an arm. He double-clutched on a sacrifice fly and still was only able to send a two-hopper to short.

That's one difference I've noticed so far: The talent pool is obviously smaller, so the gap between the best and everyone else is enormous. For example: Quickly name Cubans in the MLB today.

You're thinking of hitters and one pitcher.

The pitchers I've seen are junkballers who are lucky to touch 85 on their four-seamers if they even throw one. One guy I saw threw a slider -- and only his slider -- with a sidearm delivery. Forget stealing signs, if you saw that sidearm, you'd know it was the slider. But! He got outs!

These guys wouldn't even make A ball in the states but they're starters here. Partly why judging talent is so hard, I guess. Did Jose Abreu average a home run every other AB because he's a god with a bat or because he was waiting on the 73-mph hanging curve? We know now it's because he's pretty good at mashing taters, but I can see why there's a big unknown with any Cuban pelotero.

Well, while I was writing the game fell apart for Las Tunas, so buenas noches.

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