MICHELENA MONDAYS

2 04 2010


Why Did The Industriales Win?
By José Antonio Michelena

Yenier Flores, the second Villa Clara batter swung, the ball flew to the glove of Frank Connor and the earth shook on the entire Island about two o’clock on Thursday. Several million people jumped for joy. The Industriales won their twelfth Cuban baseball crown. But, why so much noise for a ball game?

Slightly more than half a century before, when Almendares, Havana, Cienfuegos and Marianao faced off in the league of professional baseball, also a ball game, a decisive championship, paralyzed the island. The Almendares’ Blue Scorpions played Havana’s Red Lions.

The Scorpians and Lions capitalized on the fans at that time. Although Cerro Stadium still could not accommodate 60 thousand fans, and the Island had barely 7 million inhabitants and the number of TV’s was infinitely smaller, and passion lit rivalries in
color: the green of Cienfuegos, the orange of Marianao, red for Havana and blue for Almendares.

The Industriales, the capital’s team, emerged in 1962, their uniforms stamped in blue and drew a following from legions of Almendaristas; when years later that added the icon of Havana, the lion, they created a very powerful image. The whole sky is Havana and Almendares at the same time, the yin and yang.

Perhaps no one knows who decided to give the blue to the Industrial and who then chose the lion to complete its heraldry, but it is clear that the celestial combination arouses great passions for or against.  No other team has so many followers, nor does any have so many opponents, opponents, adversaries.

In the clash of the Industriales versus Villa Clara, the Orange had the sympathy of all the fans who are hostile to the blue team.

One issue to investigate in the field of emotional states of the athletes is why the players of the capital grow in the post season, how they use that power and contrary energy and convert it to energy in their favor, while their opponents play below their potential.

The current blue team does not reach the level of those of 1986, 1992 or 2004, but its players feel they are legendary. Behind them, pushing them, are Chávez, Trigoura, Hurtado, Street, Osorio, Marquetti, Urbano, Capiró, Tony, Puente, Changa, Arocha, El Duque, Javier, Kendry, Yaser, Medina, Scull, Germán, Padilla, Anglada, Vargas… and this tradition carries them forward.

Among the crowd who cheered the Industriales players in the park on March 13 was a young man with a “tattoo” in pen on his face that said: “This is for El Duque”, under the number 26.

But obviously, the mystique of Industriales goes beyond the breath of the great players who have gone before, beyond the tradition to “play well”; even the high esteem in proportional to having won so many times, to being a winner, the greatest of the four great teams. It is, perhaps, the combination of all that. And something more recondite
Which brings us back to the Almendares.

Tony Gonzalez and Germain Bureau reminded me of Willy Miranda, Anglada of Tony Taylor; Chavez and Marquetti of Rocky Nelson; Changa of Mike Cuellar; Vargas of Miguelito de la Hoz; Javier of Angel Scull; now Malleta is Rocky Nelson again, and so on, like Wichy Nogueras’ poem, “Eternorretornógrafo.”

He still lacks the wisdom of a new Ramón Carneado at the helm of blue ship, but Germain was more magician than fortune-teller in this final game. Who could think that a young man who had as many bases on balls as innings pitched in the regular season was going to pitch like he did? Spell, enchantment? Aché, God-given power, the Industriales have a great deal of Aché. If not, how did they win 12 championships in Cuba.

Why so much noise for a ball game? This issue goes beyond a sports note. We say only that we will continue to sing, “Hey, you caught the lion,” or “roaring lion,” we are representing a feeling, a belonging, an identity. But everything is fuel for the blue fire.

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