As Cuba’s B-level national team charges through the field this week at the World Port Tournament in Rotterdam toward a likely championship showdown Sunday with Team USA’s Pan American Games silver medalists, several thousand enthusiastic Dutch baseball fans have been daily enjoying the non-commercialized thrills of top-level international baseball. No evening ESPN home run derby highlights here, no 12-story Diamond Vision backdrops blaring glitzy commercials at each pitching change and half-inning switch of sides. No Barry Bonds soap opera.
The biggest home run blast this week in Rotterdam has undoubtedly been the Tuesday grand slam by portly Cuban catcher Yosvani Pereza, which rescued the perennial world champions from what might have been their only defeat of the week at the hands of pesky Chinese Taipei. Peraza’s towering blast has been the talk of the Rotterdam press box in recent days. Mention Barry Bonds to the international media gathered here and one receives only blank stares. Which raises of course the inevitable question. Are the Dutch baseball fans really that uninformed and embarrassingly provincial? Or is the true home of provincialism actually found in the self-indulgent nation stetching between Alex Rodriguez’s New York and Barry Bonds’ San Francisco–the United States of Advertising?
For the few US-based fans who might like to catch the action between Team USA and Cuba on Saturday afternoon (8am New York time), or the championship game of the World Port Tournament on Sunday (1:30 EST), both will be available via on-line internet connection at www.baseballdecuba.com (a US-located Cuban League website). But be forewarned: no Joe Morgan, no Jon Miller (actually no audio), no Barry Bonds. (Can this be baseball?)