Cover art for Cuban Baseball ... and My Love for the Game, Vol 1
A Trip to the Library

A Trip to the Library: Cuban Baseball … and My Love for the Game, Vol 1

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that I have a deep-rooted passion for Cuban baseball. Since my deep dive into the world of unaffiliated baseball began in earnest around 2016 Cuban baseball has been one of my favorite areas to explore. Serie Nacional de Béisbol, Cuba’s top league, is probably my favorite baseball league, period. I also find myself writing about the exploits of Cuban players in various professional leagues with some amount of regularity. Add all of this together and it’s easy to see why a book like Cuban Baseball … and My Love for the Game, Vol 1 would be right up my alley.

Written by Yordano Carmona and Yusseff Díaz, Cuban Baseball … and My Love for the Game, Vol 1 is a collection of interviews and short write-ups on a variety of Cuban ballplayers who have either previously played, currently play, or are prospects with hopes of playing in Major League Baseball. The Vol 1 part of the title deals with MLB and MLB alone as the focus of this volume in the proposed series is the connection between Cuban baseball and MLB.

It is interesting to hear from so many Cuban ballplayers. I’m never going to look at a book that has thoughts on players ranging from Dariel Álvarez to César Prieto and think it’s not a worthwhile endeavor. For those looking to dip their toes into the modern world of Cuban baseball, Cuban Baseball … and My Love for the Game, Vol 1 is a great entry point. The reader will get to know some of the biggest names both on the islands and abroad. Not just in terms of MLB, but also their ties to their native country.

Through getting to know the players profiled within readers will gain a better understanding of how enmeshed baseball is in Cuban culture. It really can’t be overstated how important baseball is to Cuba’s identity as a country. Though all of its interviews are disassociated from one another, Cuban Baseball … and My Love for the Game, Vol 1 does a splendid job of getting across what Cuba and baseball together mean for every single player profiled within the pages of the book. For those looking for a better understanding of the connection between Cuban citizens and the sport of baseball, Cuban Baseball … and My Love for the Game, Vol 1 is, to state it again, a really good entry point.

The only real drawback to Cuban Baseball … and My Love for the Game, Vol 1 is that the presentation ends up feeling somewhat off. There are a number of profiles that feel like they were taken straight from Diaz’s and Carmona’s website, Pelota Cubana. Maybe they weren’t, though the familiarity I felt with some of the profiles leads me to suspect they in fact were, but there’s no denying that at times it feels like Cuban Baseball … and My Love for the Game, Vol 1 is more a collection of articles that a cohesive book.

Cuban Baseball … and My Love for the Game, Vol 1 is a good little book. I don’t use the word little with a hint of disparagement. The offering from Díaz and Carmona is a brisk read, but a good read. It’s especially great for people who have an interest in the modern Cuban game and don’t know where to start. Get to know some of the more important figures in the game (though definitely not all of them) and become more familiar with the relationship Cuba has with baseball in the process. Cuban Baseball … and My Love for the Game, Vol 1 is a good first entry in the proposed series and I can’t wait to read what comes next.

Lead photo courtesy of Yoandy Castaneda Lorenzo

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Bill Thompson
Father (human/feline/canine), husband, Paramedic, Socialist, writer Internet Baseball Writers Association of America and Off the Bench Baseball; freelance writer at various online and print publications. Member Internet Baseball Writers Association of America & Society for American Baseball Research.

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