Another baseball season has recently opened in Havana and across the island of Cuba, and it promises to be one of the most exciting 90-game campaigns in decades. Last winter’s National Series #47 was truly one for the record books–featuring a string of landmark performances including Pedro Lazo’s climb toward the number one slot in career pitching victories, Yulieski Gonzalez’s unprecedented 15-0 ledger on the hill for Habana Province, and Alexei Bell’s previously unmatched 31 round trippers and 111 RBI. This year’s campaign features a slew of organizational changes, such as a season split into three segments (to accommodate the March World Baseball Classic festivities) and a return to the two-division pennant structure abandoned back in 1992. There is also the promise of more record-setting individual performances by such emerging slugging stars as Olympic heroes Alexei Bell and Alfredo Despaigne, as well as potentially tight pennant races featuring Pinar del Rio and Sancti Spiritus in the Occidente (Western) Division, and defending champion Santiago de Cuba and Villa Clara in the Oriente (Eastern Division).
The miracle of the internet now makes it possible for North American fans to follow all the intriguing nightly action of the world’s “second best league”–all the way from early December through late May. Complete Cuban League baseball information is available in both Spanish and English on www.baseballdecuba.com, where daily box scores and complete stats–as well as insightful in-depth analysis and breaking news items–allow fans to uncover every corner of the island’s rich national pastime. Past visitors to the site should be impressed by the “new look” improvements that make this one of the most impressive international baseball sites found anywhere in cyberspace. And for those who want to witness Cuban baseball up close and personal–to assess the action and peer inside this heretofore long-hidden alternative baseball universe–this website also features nightly radio and TV streaming of select/featured Cuban League games almost daily. The complete Cuban League 2008-2009 schedule is also available for download, as well as detailed historical data on Cuba’s storied past performances in top international tournaments. There is no longer any excuse for remaining “in the dark” about some of the highest level baseball played anywhere on the planet. And for those fans enthralled with the upcoming March World Baseball Classic, here is the perfect opportunity to prepare your own scouting reports and assessments of the Cuban national team stars that will likely represent one of the strongest challenges in the spring 2009 WBC II international field.