We get a chance to play Cuba tonight and that’s always special. For as good as we are in our country in baseball, they have ruled the international scene for quite some time. The YNT has fared very well against the Cubans in the last decade, but it’s always a battle and generally it comes down to us and them and it’s always fun. It’s tough not to be a little more fired up than normal but we’ve tried to tell the team play a faceless opponent. Much of Cuba’s success is based on intimidation, and Japan was beaten last night (6-1) before the game even started according to our coaches who scouted the two teams. If we do exactly what we did against Brazil, Mexico, Japan, and Columbia against the Cubans, we’ll be in good shape. We are the better team. If we come out and try too hard and get caught up in everything they want you to get caught up in — the rough play, the drums and whistles, the dancing in the dugout — then we’ll make things much more difficult than they have to be. If we’re lucky enough, i’ll be buying McDonald’s again tomorrow and that will be the best hamburger purchase I’ll have ever made.
Because we had a night game today, we stretched lights out from the normal 10:30 to 11:00pm. Some of the guys went to bed early anyway. One was our media guy, the ever-professional Lee Aldridge. Lee got sick the other day and it was pretty bad for two days. He couldn’t keep anything down, and we’ll leave it at that. We took him to the sick bay in the morning and they gave him an iv to get him rehydrated and back on his feet. He even missed the game yesterday, but it was good to see him with some color again when we got back home.
Room 8-6 had some card playing going on. Mom and Dad, USA Baseball didn’t teach your kids to gamble, ESPN did, and they learned well. I may have even…cough…lost $5 to 16 year olds. There’s a couple of card sharks in this group.
The coaches sat around and discussed strategy for the game today with the Angels-Yankees game on in the background. Old stories were shared about the 8 staff members staying in the same room last year and all of the laughs and unpleasant smells that resulted from that. Coach Hatch and I miss (inside joke alert) Shakespeare, Tubby, Looooooopes, Artie, Coach LaFevers, and of course who can forget Softy and backsiding.
Regardless of what everyone was doing, I know in the back of our minds there was only one thing that mattered, and that was doing our job and beating Cuba today.