Aliet Arzola Lima

Aliet Arzola Lima

Journalist, sports analyst, both in the Cuban and international sphere. Interested in keeping track of the island’s athletes and coaches, regardless of where they are.

Contracts abroad steal the show

The Cuban National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER by its Spanish acronym) opened its doors to the press of the nation in order to present its new faces, with Dr. Antonio Becali as its head, and also to announce the recruitment of six local athletes in foreign leagues. There were feints and intentions of establishing a dialogue about the national sport, the prospects for the Pan American Games in Toronto next July, but when just talk ing about the issue of recruitments the attention shifted completely and for nearly two hours the exchange was intense, valid to clear many doubts. To begin, Arnaldo Batista, INDER financial vice-president, who is also in charge of everything related to contracts, revealed that Frederich Cepeda, Yulieski Gurriel, Alfredo Despaigne and Hector Mendoza will have a second season of adventure in the Japanese professional baseball, presumably with the same clubs that requested their services last year. To them we must add Lourdes Yunielkis Gurriel, who is expected to play with the Yokohama DeNA Baystars, the same club that hired his brother Yulieski the previous year, although it is speculated the latter could move to a stronger franchise given his prior performance. "They...

Foto: Ricardo López Hevia

“We are all leaders”

Within hours the networks are flooded with congratulations and thanks to Cuban players for their brilliant performance in the Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz, Mexico, where they reached a memorable bronze metal. The vote was unanimous: the heartfelt medal of the regional multisport event came with goals and long runs a generation that invites optimism after so many years mired in soccer mediocrity with constant leaks and the disappointment of watching multiple talents, but without the bellows needed to win as members of the national team. Own members staged the sharing in social networks, space they filled shouting "We are all leaders!", launched by the midfielder Yordan Santa Cruz, the Cuban sensation in Veracruz, where many experts were stunned by its technical potential and superb physical deployment. Exclusive to OnCuba, Santa Cruz, from Cienfuegos, 21, said: "We had an unforgettable experience, and personally I feel very proud. The team showed that its main strength is unity, both inside and outside the court, we are a family, and right there is the idea that we are all leaders. " Likewise, he confessed his main aspiration is "to raise the level and defend my flag, based on commitment and hard...

Yasmany Tomás / Foto: Ricardo López Hevia.

Yasmany Tomas will take his power to Arizona

Finally it will not be in Philadelphia, or Miami, San Francisco , San Diego, Kansas, Seattle, Atlanta. Yasmany Tomas, one of the most coveted free agents of the market in Major League Baseball, will take his power to the hot desert of Arizona, where he will play with the Diamondbacks, franchise founded in 1998 . There was no record in the transaction, some experts had talked about $ 100 million, as many anticipated. The 24 years old Havana slugger signed for 68.5 million dollars over the next six seasons, with an option to finish the contract in the fourth year , an advantage that he could explode at the time to find a team with larger market. But these are just guesses, there is still plenty of time to get to that level, and Tomas will first have to prove his worth in the most demanding baseball of the planet if he wants to grope around free agency in advance, at the age of 28. So far, he has taken a wise way, just as announced in recent statements Jay Alou, his agent, who had already made it clear that his client would not be rushed and explore all options,...

Héctor Mendoza (extremo izquierdo), Frederich Cepeda (a su lado) y Leslie Anderson (extremo derecho), los cubanos de los Gigantes de Yomiuri.

Cubans in the Japanese radar

The Japanese professional baseball regular season is coming to an end, and most of the Cubans involved in it will finish their performance there because their teams will not advance to the postseason. For some of them that will mean returning to Cuba, where they will take a break before playing in the National Series, which begins on  September 21st . Others also come out of the Land of the Rising Sun, but for the United States or other Caribbean nations, to take a short holiday, and then train or play during the offseason. The ones that will have no respite are the managers of Japanese organizations, whose mission lies in the coming months to assess the current state of their squads and find the best options for strengthening them ahead of a new season. This search goes beyond Japanese borders, so it is not surprising to see the scouts scattered around the main baseball centers on the planet, hunting foreign talent, both inexperienced prospects and lesser figures as experienced ones who have seen them best days in the American Major Leagues. In the case of Cuba, scouts from the Yomiuri Giants, the Yokohama Baystars DENA, the Chiba Lotte Marines,...

The Cuban B-Boy Gannicus was eliminated in his first battle, but showed a lot of intensity in Brazil / Photo: Roberto Ruiz.

B-Boy Gannicus does not bite on the continental arena

Cuban B-Boy Gannicus traveled to Belém, Brazil, with a suitcase of dreams, ready to break for the first time in the demanding international scenarios of Red Bull BC One Cypher, spectacular competition of break dance which brought together the 16 best exponents of Latin America last weekend. In Igarapés Park, under the gaze of a thousand spectators, Gannicus deployed his arsenal of spins, footwork and boundless energy, but failed in the initial battle against the Venezuelan B-Boy Kaos, a native of Los Teques. With more experience and flight hours on universal tracks, Kaos dismantled Gannicus, who still lacks road to get to the highest level of the best B-Boys of the continent, which calls into question the decision of the judges in the Havana event (June, 2014), where other Cuban acrobats presented programs of greater complexity and were cleaner and full of spectacular in executions. However, the youngster from San Miguel del Padrón, where he began the practice of the discipline just nine years was a worthy representative of Cuba, for he showed personality on the court, despite its predictable inferiority he did not surrender until the verdict final. Back in the archipelago, Gannicus, who works in construction, will continue...

En reparación el estadio Latinoamericano / Foto: Adriana Rodríguez Vives

The Latino Stadium undergoes restoration works

The Latino Stadium under restoration/ Image: Adriana Rodríguez Vives Today, it would not be wise to walk into the Latino Stadium. For those who keep in mind the image of that colossal center in the municipality of Cerro with the impeccable green grass and blue grandstands, I would suggest them not to stop by there until the current restoration works are over, otherwise they may be shocked. Right now the stadiumhas nothing to do with the Latino. There is technical equipment everywhere, walls have been torn down, the fields are no longer green, and there are wholes everywhere. All that is the result of the current works carried out for the maintenance and restoration of that huge facility. For the next National Baseball Series, the Latino will have entirely new sanitary furniture; the inner diamond square will exhibit its Sunday best after total fitting-out and the bullpens will be in a different position, very similar to modern standards used in the Great Leagues stadiums. These are broadly the main changes that will be developed in this sanctuary of Cuban baseball, which will still have a huge gap in the left side of the roof because its deterioration is such that...

Dave Van Horn

Dave Van Horn: “Cubans have revolutionized the majors”

If you check his history, you might think that Dave Van Horn has not been a successful man in baseball. He played just three years in the minor leagues of the United States with branches of the Atlanta Braves, always moving in different scales of Class A. There he hit very little in his almost fleeting ephemeral passage, and after three seasons without pain or glory he focused on studies. Completed a master's degree from East Texas in 1992, and gave the first steps in his directing career in college. That´s a non impressive record of service when compared to the mythical figures of the northern professional baseball: the great sluggers, the indecipherable pitchers, managers of World Series winners. However, this man, born in Stanton, California, has made a bright path in training and many players agree to describe him as one of the most prestigious mentors of the nation in his category. To get an idea, in 24 seasons has garnered over a thousand wins and does not reach the 600 losses, with several forays in the World Series of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCCA) in command of Nebraska Cornhuskers and Arkansas Razorbacks, a team he runs since 2003....

Yaisel Sierra

Cuba boasts of good pitching

Like a breath the third edition of the baseball match between Cuba and the United States went flying after its resumption in 2012, now with a Cuban sweep that returns the US favor of last year on their land, where our selection, much better than the current, suffered much criticized battering. Bells have been tolling after the five victories in Matanzas and Pinar del Rio; although the stark reality is that we played against lesser team, facing the transition from college baseball to professional model that includes the change from aluminum bats to wooden ones. However, you can not devalue the performance of the Cubans, whose roster exhibited several of the most talented domestic players, which has a margin of uppercase growth, particularly if achieved clashes against rival of a certain level, experienced and mastering the fundamentals of the game. There are several players that we can include in this group: third baseman Luis Yander La O, catcher Luis Abel Castro, first baseman Ramón Lunar and slugger Guillermo Aviles, all with serious growth prospects, some for its tight defense capability OBP and speed on the bases, and others for their innate strength and powerful swing, and having still room for...

paracaidismo

Unparalleled falls

11 years ago Gabriel Da Silva Diego was piloting his aircraft of the Brazilian Air Force as usual. It was a training flight, in which he was carrying paratroopers who would perform several practice exercises. "From time to time I had these missions, and I always saw them smiling, calmly before jumping, enjoying the moment, literally taunting the opponent," confesses to OnCuba, Diego, 35, a Brazilian who fell in love with the modality at that time. "I want to do that too," he thought, and since then he started jumping non-stop for over a decade. "I put all my money into this," said the Brazilian in perfect Spanish, who was crowned king of the XI Latin American Skydiving Championships in Varadero, north of Matanzas. At the resort´s Skydiving International Center, the South American showed his world class for about a week, when he wowed with his accuracy jump after jump, some with the highest level of precision sufficient to oust the Cuban squad. However, the female local representation succeeded in breaking the absolute reign of Brazilians, thanks to the leadership of Marisol Maldonado Castellanos, leading expert who has been jumping for 33 years but still suffers nerves before getting on...

Yoennis Céspedes

Cespedes wins Home run Derby, again!

Cuban Yoennis Cespedes won his second trophy in the Home Run Derby of the All-Star Game, historical fact since for more than a decade no hitter had repeated the crown. The commentators were impressed by the display of power by the Granma slugger, who boasted a compact and brutal swing, capable of sending the ball out of bounds over every fence, something the other contenders did not come close to emulating in a rainy night hampering the work of the sluggers. To start, the eyes of everyone were on huge American Giancarlo Stanton, new model of power in the majors, or Jose Bautista, probably the most consistent slugger in the last five years when has been healthy. Many also focused their hopes on the other Cuban, the Cienfuegos Yasiel Puig, a lover of show and pressure. But gradually all fell wayside and fell like a house of cards, diminished by the huge connections by Céspedes, who bombed the stands from all angles and in all possible ways, same with elevated high-rise Tiger Woods style, or fierce lines ready to destroy walls and drill fans gloves. From the first to abandon the struggle was Puig, desperate and uncoordinated in his first...

Alfredo Despaigne

Alfredo Despaigne to play in Japan

Late in the night of Monday, the Cuban Baseball Federation confirmed the hiring of Granma slugger Alfredo Despaigne by the Japanese club Chiba Lotte Marines, that plays in the Pacific League of Japanese professional baseball. After going through an ordeal by the accusations of possessing a false passport for his trip to the Mexican League with the Piratas de Campeche, the Cuban now faces a new challenge in a much more demanding contest, where he must show all his quality for longer stay in the upcoming season. "It's a real honor for me to represent the colors of the Japanese team. I respect the Asian baseball in general and, in particular, of them, champions in the first and second World Classics "explained Despaigne to press officers of the Cuban Federation. "I will contribute primarily with my batting, for the Chiba to be among the best teams in that strong league. I hope that my participation will satisfy the Japanese fans, "said the Cuban, who will be the seventh player of the island to play in Japan in the current season. His mission in the Marines seems extremely important in the offensive paragraph, since the team is relegated to the fourth...

Cuban Fury in San Diego

The explosion of Cubans in the major leagues continues and we no longer know when it will stop. The latest to launch his bid for star in the MLB was the Havana´s skillful Odrisamer Despaigne, who debuted in style with the San Diego Padres. After going through an ordeal in the Minor Leagues, completely away from his usual performance, the former leader of the Industriales pitching staff was called to the big leagues to replace the injured Andrew Cashner and had a jaw-dropping performance on front of more than 40 thousand fans who went to the AT & T Park in San Francisco. Odrisamer, who pitched to the also Cuban catcher Yasmani Grandal, walked seven innings and handcuffed the Giants with an impressive speed variability, from fastballs located in the lower ninety miles and breaking balls that slowed down until nearly sixty miles, with highlights including for change-up, perfected since his days in Cuba, where coaches José Elosegui and Julio Romero helped him polish that pitch. Such a contrast disarmed to the Californian offense, with heavyweights like the Hunter Pence, Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval. According to several reports, Odrisamer made the Giants look like rookies, based on a tremendous...

Kendrys Morales Finds a New Team

After a long winter and much of spring waiting for a call that made his day, finally the Cuban ballplayer Kendrys Morales picked up the phone and heard the phrase cherished by any player who is unemployed "you can now return to the field, the Twins want you fly to Minnesota. " Across the line spoke Scott Boras, perhaps the most prominent agent in the baseball universe that year after year gets lavish contracts for his players, but could not convince any of the 30 major league franchises to sign Kendrys, a husky first baseman and prominent designated hitter. The Cuban native of Fomento, Sancti Spiritus, in a hurry, packed up and arrived after a long trip north in Minnesota, almost in Canada, to be presented by his new team, his third in his journey through the majors. Beside him in the conference room of the Target Field, were Ron Gardenhire, manager of the Twins, bullpen coach Bobby Cuellar, who served as interpreter, and Terry Ryan, general manager of the team that is currently at the bottom of the Central Division of the American League, though not too separated from the leaders (Detroit Tigers). Ryan, one of the main makers...

The year of Puig

We could call the 2014 Major League Baseball as the "Year of Puig" because the Cuban baseball player is really ripping the ball in the best baseball in the world. But that term has no such pretensions, because if we speak of the "Year of Puig" we refer to the first anniversary of his debut in the majors, which he met just today, June 3. That Monday, and 365 days ago, the millionaire roster of the Los Angeles Dodgers received in their land of Chavez Ravine the San Diego Padres, a duel for attempting to leave the terrible hole that they were in, with only 24 wins and 32 losses!, well distant from the top in the National League´s West Division. The talent of Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier was not enough to fill the gaps by injury of Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Juan Uribe, so they needed someone capable of revolutionizing the whole atmosphere generated in doubtful Dodgers fans . Then Yasiel Puig came, a chunky black man with a perennial broad smile, the same dreamer boy, back in his native Palmira, running shirtless and with broken shoes in the nineties, challenging the survival of a...

Red Bull’s perspective

Cliff Diving is a dangerous and a bit crazy sport. There are no other words for explaining the decision of taking jump of 27 meters and performing a bunch of pirouettes on the way and hitting water at an approximate speed of 90 kilometers per hour. Every jump is risky, but not only divers experience the adrenaline flow; a part of Red Bull’s staff (photographers and the television crew)lived through that feeling in their own flesh. This is so because Red Bull, the official organizer of the event, sponsored by Maurice Lacroix Swiss watch brand, had the opportunity to place its staff in the best positions to enjoy the competition. Thus, we were able to see photographers floating in the sea, laying down injump platforms, below them or in really high places with privileged views. Particularly, four of these photographers were at their best in the Morro fortress and Havana in general, during the first stop of the World Series, and provided OnCuba a number of spectacular images they had taken during their stay in the Cuban capital. They are Romina Amato, Dean Treml, Agustín Muñoz and Camilo Rozo. All of them have some experience in covering the World Series...

Show diving from the inside

The first stop of the VI World Series Red Bull Cliff Diving in Havana, left an unexpected champion, confirming the good moment of a rising star in the sport and the steady pace of the previous three monarchs, who, although not reaching the top warmed up and their best can be seen in the upcoming stops. Out of the competitive environment, the Morro Castle, Havana and its people the daring protagonists of the art lived countless experiences in more than one occasion, from long rides in old cars around town to the walk through historic sites. Perhaps the most sensational and striking of these episodes was the trip in classic cars, in which each chose their preferred ones to ride around Havana and get to Morro for the final competition. The caravan could be made of jewels like Chevrolet 1951 and 1952, a Ford of the 20s or Plymouth 56, all virtually extinct in the rest of the universe, at most placed in museums, but never exploited half a century later of creation. It was exactly that charm what captivated divers; some more than others, like Orlando Duque, who even dared to take the wheel to experience in mobile relics....

60 000 hits later…

More than 60 000 hits later, Erick Hernandez took the ball in his hands, kissed it and kicked it in the direction of his brother Douglas. It had been 12 hours and seven minutes after he began, at eight in the morning, to control the ball with his feet only to break a longstanding record of the world, his as well. With visible discomfort in the legs, back and neck, Erick collapsed on the floor and his trainers took over, and with massage and ice freed him of his pain, caused by an exhausting day in which he dealt with the gradual physical exhaustion and pressure not to drop the ball, at the Copacabana Hotel in the capital, the venue of his umpteenth attempt to break an absolute record. "In this variant of ball control you have virtually no defense, because in case of failure the ball goes straight to the floor, there is not a middle ground as the thighs when working with the head or the feet themselves when the attempt is with thighs,” Douglas Hernandez, pioneer of this discipline in the Island, explains to OnCuba Erick, knowing these little details and supported in his sovereign experience controlling...

Yulieski Gourriel Signs Contract with Japanese Baseball Team

A rumor was spread throughout internet on Monday, largely from the Japanese media, who claimed the imminent signing of the star Cuban baseball player Yulieski Gourriel by the Yokohama Dena BayStars, something that actually took place yesterday afternoon According to a spokesman for the Cuban Baseball Federation, Gourriel, currently playing for Industriales in the Cuban National Series, signed for the team belonging to the Japanese Central League, which this season is mired in big slump, placed one-to-last and 9 games away from the leaders. The signing took place in the Latinoamericano stadium in Havana city, where Yulieski played last season. The meeting was attended by Tony Castillo, Cuban official that signed the agreement, and the chief of operations of the Japanese team Shun Kakazu , besides Lourdes Gourriel , former star and father of the baseball player. The Japanese executive praised Yulieski, whom they have seen in recent years at the World Classic. “Besides being a contact hitter and with power, he is quick on the bases. He perfectly fits the requirements of the team, "he said. For its part, Gourriel said he will fulfill a dream, to live a desired experience, and said he will overcome obstacles like being...

Chatting with the Cliff Diving champion

Blake Aldridge is in the clouds. It's been just over an hour since he was, standing on his head, watching the dozens of vessels surrounding the Havana’s Morro Castle. At that time, terrifying for most of humanity, the British left his mind in blank and gained momentum just before dropping for three seconds into the water. It may sound simple, but when in the fall you have to make two and a half turns, four turns and worry about entering the cleanest and vertical way as possible in a water wall, the challenge is complicated in the extreme, because the sea, very refreshing and gentle enough, becomes a concrete wall when these divers come down from the heights. That impact, Aldridge, 31, didn’t feel it to the full extent during his last dive in Havana, which gave him the title at the first stop of the Red Bull World Series of Cliff Diving, to the point that after the competition, he could not almost walk and had his ankle bandaged with somewhat worn brown strips. "too long standing, too many interviews , very long ," he says smiling although somewhat tired after multiple talks with most of the press corps...

Show diving (III)

The Morro Castle, Havana and Cuba debuted in style at the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. Some might speak of the wind, strong and unbearable at times, others will speak of the sun, from beginning to end abusive, but the simple fact is that the capital of the Caribbean executed its great jump with golden ribbons at the first historic opportunity. To keep pace, the winner of the great event also lifted the trophy for the first time in his career, breaking all the pre-competition predictions, thanks to an upward movement performance that brought the favorites out of competition one by one. Blake Aldridge, also known as Blakey Boy , generally did not receive much media attention, at least until now, because the crown will attract the spotlight on this British 31, who starred in a legendary comeback after jumping from the platform with a score below the average (74.1 points) in the qualifying round . He was ranked 11th among 14 divers, and nobody, absolutely nobody, not even the most faithful of his fans , foresaw the chance to see him with the trophy , ahead of such luminaries as his compatriot Gary Hunt , third, or laureates...

Show diving ( II )

At nine in the evening of Thursday, hours after the initial practice extreme jumpers felt a rumble. For a moment they got scared as they looked at each other puzzled for the event, but then someone explained them that it was the everyday cannon shot, old tradition orchestrated a little less than a kilometer from the headquarters of the first stop of the Red Bull VI World Series of Cliff Diving. Then continued on with it, the draw for the qualifying round of jumps, in which the face to face of the great duels on Saturday will be defined. There was a lot at stake, the fact of jumping first or not from the platform, with a slight advantage for the latter, because he will jump knowing what his opponents did. Thus, the Mexican Jorge Ferzuli will be the first, while his compatriot Jonathan Paredes would be in charge of closing the stage. Between the two of them will be the other divers , who began the show about four in the afternoon on Friday. Intense and annoying sun in their faces, plus random and always strong wind, tinged the evening, in which none of the divers showed their best...

El Morro se ha llenado de señalizaciones de los organizadores, que no han dejado ni un solo detalle en el aire. Foto: Red Bull Cliff Diving.

Show diving ( I)

Havana’s Morro Castle has its usual calm. Out of the sudden it has become an anthill, full of men with cameras, cell phones, headsets, which communicate in a multitude of languages , where Spanish is simply absent. It's kind of invasion of a uniformed body with different designs, but marked by the unmistakable red bulls of the Red Bull brand. They move from side to side, barely breathing, taking photographs, filming every detail, even in the most hazardous conditions, which must be present in one of the three most dangerous global sporting events: the Cliff Diving World Series. This is an exquisite adventure, in which divers perform acrobatic jumps into the water from a height of 27 meters, a good reason not to miss a single minute. As such, this Thursday nearly fifty accredited media appeared at the Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro to observe, firsthand, the test flights of the 14 specialists who will begin their competition on Saturday. In the session we appreciatd jumps without much fanfare, some unorthodox, some of excellent workmanship, such as the ones by Orlando Duque of Colombia, who impatient as everyone present delayed his appearance on the scene until the closing...

Guide of cliff divers in Havana

The divers that will star the first stop of the Sixth VI Cliff Diving World Series, which begins Friday with qualifying stage and will culminate on Saturday with the final, in the Castle of the Tres Reyes del Morro, are already in Cuba. The list has ten candidates for the podium at this year's event, plus four guests also experienced in the art of acrobatic stunts, one of the most dangerous and spectacular specialties in sport disciplines. There is no other way to catalog those jumps from 27 meters high, where divers become true human missiles, as they reach speeds close to 90 miles per hour in matters of seconds. To face such danger several years of training are required, with previous work in lower altitudes, especially in the traditional ten-meter platform, then they climb to the top set in the cliff diving. Here, we present a brief look at competitors who will captivate Cuban fans during Friday and Saturday, to get into their careers and know some details of their journey through the sui generis modality. Here they are under scrutiny. Artem Silchenko . Born in southwestern Russia on February 3, 1984, so now he is 30. For eight...

The world jumps in Cuba

Havana will provide a stunning mosaic for the 14 divers who will jump on May 10 in the first phase of the sixth Cliff Diving World Series, a seductive, magical, almost out of a cartoon event, because of the strange mixture of spectacle and danger that they live in every show. One after another the divers will be suspended in the air with unbelievable stunts and always, be it from the back, front, head or during turns, they will see askance the erect figure of the centenary Havana Morro and far, they could view at least a touch of Cuba’s capital, a breath of perfect facade the high and ancient constructions form with the eternal Malecon. However, the urban landscape is the least of the complications of the "flying” daredevils, who have already shown their talents in the most incredible sceneries around the globe. Concentration, poise, technical deployment and certain amount of luck are the keys to winning the first stop of an event with a resounding rivalry, in which they face the risk of a free fall from a height of 27 meters. In Cuba, there are not many references to this X-sport, in fact, no one of the...

Abreu , merciless

When was the last time you saw a Cuban debutante, and possessed by the bad habits of the National Series, leading the American Major Leagues in homers and RBIs? Surely you don’t, because that man does not exist or did not exist until the arrival of José Dariel Abreu in the lavish setting of the majors with the Chicago White Sox. Many will say that Rafael Palmeiro and Jose Canseco , both with Cuban roots in their youth , those distant 80 and 90 , bombarded any pitcher that dared to challenge them , with several individual awards , but none of them played in the Cuban classics, far from leading foreign competitions qualitatively . Others will mention Kendrys Morales or Yoennis Cespedes , who came from the National Series and connected at ease as rookies, but none of them with glitter in their statistics similar to the Cienfuegos first baseman . Abreu, who just a few months ago entered professional baseball, now is in the front page of major sports media, thanks to his brilliant start, where he has broken several records for rookies with homers of enormous size and great opportunity. What's more, the portentous slugger has made...

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