Baseball is lived different in this 61 National Baseball Series. A two-year hiatus, but it was not lived in the same way. Two years marked by the cold of not feeling it on the turf, with the rumble of congas drowned out in the sanitary protocols, with the COVID-19 pandemic behaving as a staunch enemy of the show.
Fans, on top of being an element always in favor of Home teams, are necessary in our stadiums, as well as to measure the health of a tournament that, although it has diminished in quality compared to other preceding stages is still in the genome of Cubans.
And that, so important to push the tournament onward, to realize that in Cuba baseball and soccer can coexist without being exclusive, and without considerably caring about the qualitative difference between one and the other in terms of television broadcasts; to mention two issues that have always been in the eye of the storm of comparisons.
They can coexist, and kindled the dreams of thousands of children, as basketball does, perhaps to a lesser extent. And I was able to verify it in the World Cup event, with a coliseum of the Sports City that came back to life, and that gave his team muffled cries of ¡Arriba, Cuba!, Sí se puede!, Jasiel, Jasiel! Or watching again the practices with the aspiration of becoming a star baseball player at the municipal and provincial level. It’s true, the massiveness is far from that in the 80’s of the last century, when I began this irreducible bond with sport, but it’s time to see the glass half full...
Like I said kindling dreams because it really has been like giving back the wings to millions. We have survived two years of quarantine; most or almost all competitions, supreme or not, have been held behind closed doors, with very strict health protocols to avoid contagion; life as well as the training of athletes have passed in a bubble format, as for fans, they have had their greatest allies in TVs or mobile phones.
Even the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games went through pandemic protocols, and absent public capacity in the facilities. And believe me, I personally think there is nothing better than living *in situ* the great emotions that sport always brings us. Baseball is breathed differently, I repeat. This season 61 has returned children to the pleasures; I have seen it in Mulgoba, Alamar, Ciudad Deportiva fields, the surroundings of Parque Lenin, and entering Cotorro municipality... Children and youngsters teaming up after having gone to the stadiums, or the inferno of Guillermón Moncada.
Baseball still measures the mood of Cubans, although now moods tend to be as hot as temperatures with soccer. I have been surprised, witnessing groups of young people who have shared both passions in a single day.
Baseball still beats, life tastes better after breaking the barriers of confinement, and returning to many activities in hold for 730 days due to the pandemic caused by the Sars-Cov-2 virus. Work, meetings with friends, face-to-face classes, the warmth of the family, in many cases. Being isolated doesn't go together with the Cuban's spirituality.
The public has returned the color to stadiums, capacity limitations aside that each province may establish according to the prevailing epidemiological situation in each case. People also have to be aware, take care of themselves, take care of others, and ensure the continuity of the show.
I, like many, am eager to return to that boiling site which is the Latino American Stadium when Industriales returns from their matches east of the island, or move to the beat of Conga de Los Hoyos in Guillermón Moncada Stadium, to hear the Chinese horn practically by my side. That the Nelson Fernandez stadium roots with total fidelity the Huracanes de Mayabeque, the same as seeing the stands of Victoria de Girón all wearing red.
Because in Cuba, ladies and gentlemen, baseball, if it's sold-out, even better: it's synonymous to our feeling as a country.
Translated by Amilkal Labañino / CubaSí Translation Staff