Swide: The steep decline of Cuba’s Serie Nacional

From Joseph Swide at Victory Journal on August 10, 2018:

By January 2016, a top young outfielder who had represented the Cuban national team at youth level told me in no uncertain terms that he thought the Serie Nacional was the worst baseball league in the Caribbean. Given that Cuba had won the 2015 Caribbean Series, the statement seemed crazy. But he was right. Most of the players from that team were already gone or soon to leave. Even that young outfielder defected from Cuba last fall and recently signed a 2.8 million-dollar contract with the Texas Rangers.

The Cuban government has reacted to the steep decline of the Serie Nacional by radically changing the league’s format. The season now has a break halfway through and the bottom 10 teams are eliminated. Their players are then absorbed by the remaining six teams through a draft. A second draft before the playoffs absorbs the top players of the two teams eliminated into the four teams advancing to the semifinals. But even still, there simply isn’t enough talent to consolidate. At the last World Baseball Classic, Cuba was fortunate even to reach the second round, where they failed to win a single game against Japan, The Netherlands, and Israel. When baseball returns to the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020, it will be the first time in history that Cuba enters an Olympic baseball tournament not as the favorite.

All that remains of Cuba’s glorious baseball history are decaying ballparks, a few aging stars, and the fans who still live and die with their provincial team and whose towns still can be temporarily reshaped by a deep playoff run.

Read the full article here: https://victoryjournal.com/stories/serie-nacional/

Originally published: August 13, 2018. Last Updated: August 13, 2018.