Let’s see, why is the National Series today that compendium of boredom, crowded with incapable pitchers and hitters with the hole of the ozone layer in every swing? Why do so many bad ball players play at the highest level of this ball?

Of course, emigration has its weight. Young talent – even the not-so-young – tends to seek space in northern stadiums, where money flows like water in the Mississippi rapids. As a result, vacancies must be filled, and it is sometimes necessary to call on players in their formative years.

But that is not the main cause. To assert that would be, I firmly believe, a blatant attempt to blame those who go to the hereafter, when the real blame lies in the hereafter, for the calamitous attention we give to grassroots baseball.

Illustration: Javier Guillén

It’s pathetic. Recently a youth coach told me: «I spend my life looking for deodorant pomitos to remove the ‘little ball’ they have on top and I wrap them in paper and tape to make training balls».

If that man is not a National Labor Hero, who is? Can you imagine any Peter Ferguson from Indiana, any Juan Velazco from Quisqueya, rummaging through the garbage looking for raw material to make balls?

We are a poor country, as is well known, and we have clung to a national sport of rich people. They cost the glove and spikes, and it costs a lot for a bat that can be broken on the day of release. The balls are expensive – over six dollars in the market – and are going to be more so I am told. The outlook could not be darker.

But we are already on the train, and fortunately a few avenues are opening up for us in terms of overseas recruitment. The country receives hard currency, and it will receive more and more of it, given the interest that Cubans awaken in the Asian and Caribbean leagues. (I don’t mention Canada, because it sounds like a joke to me about their independent championship with modern slave wages).

The contracts with the Japanese – which will multiply from November onwards – are in seven digits. The ones we sign in the Dominican Republic or Venezuela will also soon be very important. And sooner rather than later we will be present in Taipei and South Korea. The main cut goes to the athlete -my congratulations-, but there is a percentage of the money that ends up in the State’s coffers. And that money can be the salvation of our ball kids.

A part of that income, I say, could be allocated to work on the base, which is the first stone of the baseball building. Come the bats, come the balls, come the rest, and we will once again have a proper National Series. That’s what it’s all about in this land where life revolves around a game between novenas.

Only then, with the system working seriously, will my trainer friend stop taking the ‘ball’ out of the deodorant bottles.

Imagen cortesía de FOTO: Hansel Leyva