The decline of Santiago de Cuba is the greatest wrong in Cuban baseball. Not the changing structures, not the low roof -very low-of the National series, not the inaccurate numbers, not the lousy arbitration, but the aimlessly drifting of a indomitable and historical team.
The same has happened in any league when it enters an acute crisis. It happened when the NBA lockout in 1998, when the Bulls, then three-time champions, garnered only thirteen victories of fifty. Same in the Argentinean football, a couple of years ago, with shocking declines to second division of legendary clubs such as Gimnasia, Rosario Central and horror!, the mythical River Plate from Buenos Aires.
The water in the vessel is such that even higher masts feel threaten. Pinar del Rio is an inconsistent team. Villa Clara, a surprisingly apathetic squad. Industriales, even with luxury roster in the current scenario, has a so broken bullpen that nobody bets on them with complete safety. And, to add insult on injury, Santiago, worn out, drowned, with pain in the spleen, is installed in the last place of the table.
Nothing harms an event more that destroying its paradigms. The fact that Industriales or Santiago de Cuba die for a season may be due to competition, but dying two, or three seasons, means that traditions are perishing and the crisis has begun to trample the symbols.
Never, if things were as they should be, Santiago had lost the last game of last season at the hands of Mayabeque, and had never been out of the playoffs. At first glance it seems that there is no connection between the facts, but it is always possible to recognize, from allegorical details, when specific situations worsen or fictitiously survive.
That French revolution was to befall, for example, was demonstrated in advance by Voltaire and Rousseau. That counterculture will come to the U.S. was attested, first of all, in the prosperous fifties, the insane and amazing beats generation. That the Cuban baseball will live better times, or, inevitably, perish, is corroborated in a series where Santiago de Cuba, from before the beginning, carries death in its side.
It saddens me to see them in the doldrums, hear how they lose one game after another, against opponents who do not deserve to fest like that on a mighty wounded animal. Santiago was my childhood team; I mean Santiago was my team. Vera is my conception of art and Pacheco my well of confidence. But even if it were not that way, a minimal amount of love for Cuban baseball would be enough to want them to return on track.
That postseason, where they first were left out, and Industrial missed it too, would have been sufficient evidence. But Pinar del Rio saved it, by winning the championship, and showed that the historical teams are part of a clan.
I have, sometimes, fractal thinking about the sport, and I think if Santiago finally sinks, is because the series has been floating on its back for a while, and nobody rescues its body of water.