Having just returned from Havana, where I covered the Jose Huelga Memorial Tournament for www.baseballdecuba.com, this author is about to departed for the Netherlands (July 2) to provide full coverage of the Haarlem Baseball Week for the same USA-based Cuban League website. The Huelga Tournament in Havana (June 5-15) was part of Cuba’s final lengthy selection process to determine its Beijing Olympic roster. The event thus saw the current Cuban 44-man pre-selection roster divided into two equally match squads (Cuba Red and Cuba Blue) which competed in a round robin against national teams representing Venezuela and Puerto Rico. As expected the two Cuba ball clubs lost only to each other, with the Blue squad taking the deciding championship match. Full details of the tournament can still be found on our Cuban League website at www.baseballdecuba.com.
Author in Estadio Latinoamericano (Havana) with Cuban national team right fielder and 2008 National Series home run champion, Alexei Bell, on final night of Jose Huela Memorial Tournament (June 15, 2008)
Having now trimmed their Olympic roster to 29 players, the Cubans next head to Holland on June 29 to take part in the always entertaining ten-day Haarlem Baseball Week, a prestigious international tournament this year involving six entrants: favored Cuba (Olympiuc roster), host Netherlands (Olympic roster), USA (university all-star squad enroute to the late-July World University Games in Prague), Japan (also a university squad headed to the same Prague event), Korea, Chinese Taipei, and the Dutch Antilles. I will be doing play-by-play internet live coverage for all Team Cuban games on www.baseballdecuba.com, beginning with the July 4 opener (Cuba vs. Dutch Antilles, at 8 am EST). The Cuban contingent will leave Haarlem on July 14 (with the roster further trimmed by five additional cuts) and head on to Asia for a final series of friendly matches with Japanese and Taiwanese squads before the official August 13 Olympic Baseball tournament opener.