Alfredo Despaigne of Team Cuba reacts after a run scored on a walk in the first inning against Team USA during the World Baseball Classic Semifinals at loanDepot park on March 19, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)
By Julian Guilarte
World Baseball Network
The executive secretary of the Confederación de Béisbol Profesional del Caribe, Juan F. Puello Herrera, shed some light on why Cuba won’t be playing at the 2024 Caribbean Series in Miami.
Asked about the impact that Cuba’s performance at the 2023 Caribbean Series in Caracas, Venezuela, had on his decision to hold Cuba out of the 2024 Caribbean Series, which will be held at loanDepot Park in Miami, Herrera cited economic factors, but also implied that other factors contributed to the decision.
“No, no, this is not just an economic problem. It is a combination of variables. Economic factors are essential, as is the sporting aspect since good baseball will make this stadium (loanDepot Park) fill up again like it did during the World Baseball Classic,” Herrera said. “It will also contribute to breaking records. It is not a political challenge.”
Cuba struggled in the 2023 Caribbean Series, going 1-6. Cuba’s last Caribbean Series title was in 2015, and the island nation has won eight Caribbean Series titles in their history.
“This Caribbean Series is of the utmost importance for the Confederation because we are sure that we will have an even better series than the previous one,” Herrera said. “Cuba had been the ninth country, but when analyzing the variables that would guarantee the greatest efficiency, we believe that the participants we have are the most functionally adequate. We do not rule out seeing Cuba or Colombia, and we could even witness the participation of another country in the future.”
Cuba was one of the first four countries in the first iteration of the Caribbean Series from 1949-60, and won seven Caribbean Series’ during that time period. Puerto Rico, Panama and Venezuela were the other three countries in the first iteration of the Caribbean Series.
Cuban Baseball Digest reported that sources close to the Cuban Baseball Federation told them that Herrera met with Cuban baseball executives and assured them that they would participate in the 2024 Caribbean Series.
A source close to the CBPC told Cuban Baseball Digest that there was some dissatisfaction with Cuba and Colombia’s decision to participate in the inaugural Baseball Championship League, which will take place from September 28 to October 1 in Kukulcán Alamo Ballpark in Merida, Yucatán, Mexico.
Miami could be viewed as a problematic location for Cuba to play in the Caribbean Series, due to the protests and security issues that took place in their game against the United States in the World Baseball Classic, where they lost 14-2 in the semifinals to Team USA in a game that was marked by protests against the Cuban regime both outside and inside the stadium and multiple protestors running onto the field.