GUADALAJARA.— There is a shared dream among the players, journalists, and participating baseball federations immersed in the Caribbean Series. One of the most repeated phrases among those who year after year attend this baseball carnival is: “We want a series in Cuba.”
Juan Francisco Puello Herrera, president of the Caribbean Baseball Confederation for 26 years, the man who in 2014, during the Isla Margarita, Venezuela, edition, crystallized Cuba’s return to the Series, is one of the most anxious to make this dream a reality.
“You know my dream is to have the Series in Cuba, in the Latinoamericano Stadium. I have imagined it; it would be a show that I don’t want to miss. I don’t want to leave this position without that desire materializing,” he told Cuban reporters.
Asked when this could become a reality, Puello responded: “We all know that there are some small problems to solve, but that in the political sense they become huge problems.”
To put this in context, the issue or the “huge problem” to which the president of the Caribbean Confederation makes reference, is the fact that this tournament is a Major League Baseball (MLB) winter league. That is, the U.S. MLB has authority over the Series that includes the Caribbean champions of the winter leagues each February.
Puello was asked whether there was a particular Cuban team that he would prefer to see compete in his dream Series in the Latinoamericano: “I have to be impartial; I could get myself into big trouble if I said which team I would like to represent Cuba. But you know that the name of the team that I would like to see in the Series calendar starts with I,” he said with a smile that betrayed his preference for Havana’s Industriales team.
Asked about how this edition in Mexico is going, he noted, “It has been a great tournament, with a lot of dedication from the players. We were able to work with enough time in advance and achieved an excellent competition in a modern, wonderful stadium.”
I wanted to ask you about the intention to increase the number of participants in the Caribbean Series. You have commented on the possible incorporation of two Asian teams?
It’s something that we have been handling and we continue with that idea, but there is still nothing concrete. Yes, it would be necessary to vary the calendar, since there would be more games.
Two years ago, you told me about Panama and Colombia possibly joining the family of the Caribbean Series.
Yes, and we have not given up on that idea, they are growth plans that must be studied. For example, we should meet and evaluate with each League that participates in our competition the possibilities that they would have to shorten or finish their national series earlier, so that we can have more time. Today the Caribbean Series has to end in February, because it is immediately followed by the start of the Major League program with spring training.
It was said that if the participating leagues came to an agreement, the growth could become effective and, in addition, we could have a more extensive schedule. That would provide the opportunity for less strain on the teams in the Caribbean Series and improve the show, because there would be more baseball.
Puello agrees with the view expressed previously by former Puerto Rican Major League Baseball outfielder Candy Maldonado; as does seasoned ESPN baseball reporter Enrique Rojas, who assured us that Havana’s Latinoamericano Stadium would be filled with good baseball and an unmistakable Latin flavor. Meanwhile, Sebastian, a loyal fan of Tomateros de Culiacán, who has said that if his team doesn’t qualify for the finals this time round, he will support Cuba’s Alazanes de Granma, stressed that if there is a Series in Cuba, it should be announced well in advance, to make sure he can get there.
Puello wanted to take a photo with the Cuban reporters before continuing to pitch in the softball game between reporters and federation representatives present here in Jalisco. And with the same smile, he said goodbye with a suggestive phrase: “See you soon in Cuba.”