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Cuban Baseball

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. But I’m thinking of heading back down to good ol Cuba. I was wondering if anyone knew where I can find a shedule for the 2008/2009 baseball season in Cuba on the internet? I can’t seem to find one.

I wanted to catch a game. I’m not sure where I’m headed. More than likely Holguin or Cayo Coco.

BTW…Canada vs Cuba in the Olympics on August 14th… should be fun to watch.
The International Olympic Committee has voted to remove baseball from the program for the 2012 Olympics, so this is the last time that baseball will be contested at the Olympics unless it is reinstated at a future date.

Start by looking here…

http://www.baseballdecuba.com/indexeng.asp

Angelsmoke: The Cuban National Series starts early December -March with the championship usually slated for mid April. The World Baseball Classic when played (in March), has the season taking a 4 week break, so the championship happens in May.

After the season has been completed, the National team is picked and plays International competitions, depending on the year. Could be panamerican games, Latino Caribbean games, Olympics, etc.
There are 3 tournaments this summer starting with the Huelga Tournament in Havana, with Venezuela, Puerto Rico. It actually started June5-15.
Haarlem Tournament is in Netherlands early July for 2 weeks, some teams there are US, Cuba, Japan, Chinese Taipei.

Of course, these are tune-up tournaments for the Olympic Games in China in August. After the games, players will be able to rest for a bit before returning to their clubs to start their season December.

Go Cuba !!!

WOW! Thanks Slew for breaking that out for me. Cuban baseball leagues confuse the heck out of me. Okay…looks like a December booking…

GO JAYS!

16 team league (4 teams in 4 divisions). Each of the 14 provinces have a team, plus 2 teams for Havana city. Games are usually played in the capital of the province, but some games during the season are played in smaller cities to allow more Cubans to watch.

When you book before December, you run the risk of the home team playing away games. Most years the schedule is not posted until the start of the season.

Feel free to ask me about different stadiums etc, when you get closer to the time.

Slew, maybe you should post a warning about Cuban stadium washrooms! :slight_smile:

It’s 20 CUP (their money, not CUC) to use the facilities and that is no guarantee that there will be a toilet seat (in fact I can guarantee there WON’T be one), a toilet that flushes, or a surface you would feel safe touching as support for the “Santiago Squat” as we called it. It is an experience. It’s not polite, but it’s reality. Purell and wipes and anything antibacterial is highly highly recommended.

I do not post this as a diss against Cuba, I post it as a warning for the fainter-hearted tourist. Still, you would be INSANE to miss a Cuban baseball game… one of the highlights of the trip! UNFORGETTABLE!!! (Yeah, I loved it… and I don’t even know from baseball.)

OK, so I checked out the website, but can’t get a sense of whether there will be anything in Havana (or nearby) while we are there from June 23-July 7. Slew - do you have any idea?
Thanks!
Theresa

Huelga tournamnent is in Havana until this Sunday June 15. After that the National team goes to Europe actually Netherlands for Tournament starting July 4. I would imagine the team would leave for Europe the end of June, so you maybe lucky to watch them practice June 23-30?

Eloisegirl: Yes , I have encountered many different washrooms in a sad state. Good thing I can stand!
At Matanzas stadium there is 1 washroom. Lady outside who directs traffic making you wait if there is a person of the opposite sex inside. Toilets have no doors, no seats, water trickles out into a bucket in the sink. you can wet your hands at least. Another lady inside uses the bucket when filled to flush toilets. Not much different from the other parks I have visited. Although some are better than others

Martian had once suggested sitting in the stands and bringing some plastic cups and rum, making friends with your neighbours. With regard to the washrooms described above, I try to avoid fluids! But I did bring a bag of Chupa Chups to hand out to the kids around - making sure I asked the parent first if it was okay. They also sell interesting looking food for a nickel - some cones of peanuts (which are delicious!), something fried like donut strips, or maybe it was pork skin?

With the washrooms in that state at the stadiums, I would guess that a souvenir counter to purchase a Jersey or Ball is out of the question…which leads me to my next question.

Is there a place to buy a Team Jersey anywhere in Cuba?..(that may sound far fetched, but I did see someone wearing a Cuban National Team Jersey at the Toronto Blue Jay game one day)…It looked cool…I would love to get one…or a provincial team jersey.

just wondering

Hey theresaandbrad

You might be in luck…depends when you arrive…you may be able to catch the final game (June 23) in Havana with the top USA College team…that looks cool!!!

http://www.baseballdecuba.com/EngnewsContainer.asp?id=784

There is a great story in “Vanity Vair” this month, about Cuban baseball and agents in the USA trying to get them to the MLB. All the Cuban players are worth about 500 million on the US market. Players making 60,000 are year can skip out by boat from Matanzas ect…and make 3 million only 90 miles away. It’s long article, with some sub plots too. This story could easily be made into a movie. A must read for any baseball fan…(or Cuba fan for that matter). It addresses the whole “souvenir” question that I asked in this thread too. It’s illegal to sell baseball memorabilia in Cuba, but many of the players do it on the black market to subsidize their income. If they get caught, they get band from baseball.

It’s not hard to meet the baseball players - Martian had once suggested if you want a shirt, be sure to give them adequate CUC to replace the shirt. Obviously, if they get banned for selling their shirts, you may want to do this discreetly and privately. We sat at third base behind the Santiago players - everybody was yelling at them and chatting and the players did NOT have that MLB attitude, but were kibbitzing and yelling right back. Off to buy this month’s Vanity Fair…

angelsmoke, some of the facts from the Vanity Fair article are wrong.

“… Players making 60,000 are year can skip out by boat from Matanzas ect…and make 3 million only 90 miles away…”

No Cuban baseball player makes 60,000/year, I’d venture a guess that the entire salary costs for the entire league combined is less than that.

“… It’s illegal to sell baseball memorabilia in Cuba, but many of the players do it on the black market to subsidize their income. If they get caught, they get band from baseball…”

I’ve traded many New York Yankee and Florida Marlins baseball shirts for Cuban shirts, right at the game. You need to give the player 25 CUC so he can buy a new shirt. Ballcaps are 10 CUC. This is done out in the open with no subterfuge or sneakiness, right at the dugout at the end of the game.

Vanity Fair is usually fairly good with their reporting. I’ll be curious to see what the rest of the article says…

Yes, It is advised to trade shirts/caps with money vs just buying them off the player. Guess they can justify the transaction if there is a trade invoved.
Many of the shirts are brightly coloured, especially the away jerseys. I bought a National Team jersey with ballcap 4 years ago from the gift shop @ Breezes Varadero. Total was $50US, the last year US$ was tourist currency.
Feb/08 in Matanzas vs Sancti Spirtus, the Matanzas 1st baseman tried to go into the stands in the 9th inning. He was held back by the first base coach from SS. Alot of Heckling from the stands, and they where the home team!
Matanzas won the game in the bottom of the 9th. Players with gloves/shoes & fans are walking out at the sametime. The 1st baseman was walking around the parking lot looking for the offending fan, before he was escorted to their bus.
Both teams take buses to their hotels, most fans walk or bike. Our car was 1 of maybe a dozen cars in the lot.

Just so it’s clear to everyone, you should still include money in the trade because the player has to somehow replace the stuff he’s giving you. These guys make almost NO money (the 60K quoted in the Vanity Fair article is ludicrous) and they’re responsible for their own uniforms too. Paying for their shirt/ballcap saves them the trouble of selling your gift in order to replace their uniform.

Yes, you can buy Cuban baseball uniforms in many tourist shops, but I’ve never seen a “real” one with a player’s name, etc. on it. Maybe I just haven’t noticed?..

Funny story about the 1st baseman. This is when you want to be able to understand Spanish or have a good interpreter because some of the heckling is quite original and sometimes stunningly hilarious (compared to the stupid trash talk we’re forced to endure in North America.)

" Players making 60,000"

…oppps…your right…that’s the league cost. Official they get paid “ZELTCH” Unofficially …well who knows???

From what I gather from VF…there supposed to keep their Jersey until the end of season I think, and then it’s theirs to do what ever. …they are not supposed to be Capitalists at the park…but you gotta read it…good article.

One park is mentioned in Havana, where for the first time ever (Feb 2008 I thinK) …they were selling caps…only 6 caps too…and the locales were just looking in “awe” …too poor to buy…

Thanks for the clarification, Angelsmoke. That makes sense now.

The players do get paid though. They have families that have to eat, bills to pay, etc. same as anyone. Their wage is very low though, right on par with many other Cubans. A couple of years ago it was about $20/month. In good communist fashion all players make the same wage no matter how good they are.

That said, like all Cuban workers who do well and toe the Party line there can be extra “perks” attached to the job. A few years ago I know that Omar Linares, a smokin’ hot 3rd basemen was given a car, an expense account at restaurants, etc. Many of the better players will receive a refrigerator, television, vacations, etc.