Lost in...oh, you know
There's an international baseball tournament going on right now. Called "The World Baseball Classic," it's basically a marketing device for Major League Baseball. Like most of Bud Selig's ideas, the WBC is basically a good idea that's slightly marred by poor planning, but saved by ball players. The games have been great. Japan and Korea in particular are playing at a very high level. Cuba, however, has been eliminated, the first time since the Revolution that they haven't placed either first or second in an international competition. I mention this at all because translation, or the lack of it, played a role in the Cuban failure.
There were 16 countries competing in the first round, speaking perhaps ten or twelve different languages between them. The WBC has a number of odd rules governing the way players can be used. These rules exist basically to placate big league teams, most of which would prefer that their players not participate. They are fairly complicated and asinine rules. So you'd think that MLB would have made an effort to communicate these rules clearly. Not so much. Apparently they just gave every team a copy of the rules in English and left it up to the teams to take care of getting whatever translations they needed.
So Cuban manager Higinio Velez (arguing above) thought, based on a poor translation, thought that the rule said: If a pitcher throws more than thirty pitches he is ineligible the following day. So he pulled his two best relievers from an important game against Japan when they got to thirty pitches, to keep them available to pitch the following day. That night someone told him he was mistaken. A pitcher was ineligible if he threw thirty pitches or more. So Cuba's two best relievers were not available the following day, and had also been removed from a game that Cuba needed badly to win, which they lost. This translation hiccup was typical of the Cuban team's general bad luck this time around. It's not why they lost, but it did screw Velez's bullpen up, which had a lasting effect. They went on to lose to Japan again a few days later, and are now back in Cuba, where Fidel thinks he knows why his team was made to play against Japan and Korea so often in this American-planned tournament.
What was important to the organizers was eliminating Cuba, a revolutionary country that has heroically resisted and has not been defeated in the battle of ideas. Nevertheless, we shall one day again be a dominant power in the sport.
Which is only the second most incredible, poetic thing that's been said so far in the tournament. First prize goes Japanese outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who failed to get a bunt down against Cuba, and didn't feel very good about it.
That failed bunt put another crack in my already tattered heart. It was as though I was the only person on our side wearing a Cuba jersey.
In other news
Garfield finally carried through on his threats to mail Chad Post to Abu Dhabi.
Monica Carter at Salonica is thinking a lot about WWII.
Will at A Journey Around My Skull has some amazing illustrations from Iranian children's books.
Javier Cercas has a new novel coming out.
Rose Mary Salum's interview with a handful of editors rolls on, nearing the end.
And I've got a new blog focusing on literature, not necessarily in translation.