Ozzie Guillén winks at Cuban baseball in the Miami 2024 Caribbean Series

MIAMI.- Cuba always is and will be a topic of discussion in the Caribbean Series. In the 66th edition of the tournament held at LoanDepot Park in Miami, the islanders are absent. But they are not forgotten. Each four of the seven teams have players from the largest of the Antilles.

For Ozzie Guillén -manager of the Tiburones de La Guaira (Venezuela), the presence of Cuban baseball enhances the competition.

“I think that the Caribbean Series, since Cuba came to Venezuela (Margarita 2014), gave it a different atmosphere. It was not very good”commented the strategist in a press conference after his boys beat the Curaçao team 4-2 to start with a 2-0 record.

Cuba – which was absent from the Caribbean Series for more than 50 years when dictator Fidel Castro banned professional teams – was not invited for this edition, after having participated last year in Caracas.

From Margarita 2014 to Panama 2019, Cuban teams had a combined record of 11 wins and 13 losses. But the formats of the competition allowed them to win the 2015 title and be finalists in 2019.

The Cuban team of Vegueros de Pinar del Río, although they had an adverse regular phase (1-3), qualified as fourth to beat the Caribes de Anzoátegui (Venezuela) in the semifinal and won the title by winning against the Tomateros de Culiacán. In Panama, the Leñadores de las Tunas had a run differential of +3, with a balance of 2-2, which took them to the final stage.

When it was announced that the Caribbean Series would be in Miami, it was thought that Cuba could be present to guarantee success at the box office as it is the largest immigrant community in South Florida. However, the decisions of the Caribbean Baseball Confederation was to invite Curacao, Nicaragua and Panama.

Guillén was fired in 2012 after making controversial statements in which he admitted his admiration for Fidel. Given this, the Miami public even took to the streets with banners against the leader and months later – with a record of 69-93 – the board fired him.

Ozzie asks for thanks for the players who play in the tournament

Every time February arrives and the champions of the winter leagues are known to go to the Caribbean Series, the journey to play the tournament begins. Therefore, the Venezuelan strategist believes that we must applaud the players who make it possible.

“The Caribbean Series is difficult, in the 80s and 90s, the player who came was proud to represent his country,” Guillén continued. “Right now the players, well, I support them who doesn’t want to come because they have more important jobs than the Caribbean Series. We must give grace to the players who play the Caribbean Series, there are players who are ready to go to training camps. But that’s baseball. The same thing happens in the WBC, we put it before, after, in December, in January. It’s not an easy thing. We have to thank the players who are here right now.”