The Subtle Advantage

September 20, 1990|By Bernie Walter | Bernie Walter,Contributing writer

As sportsmen, the Cuban athletes are some of the best in the world. Their teams are well-coached, and their athletes are highly skilled and motivated. Their choices are sports or the sugar cane fields.

In this tournament, their gamesmanship reached unparalleled heights. Gamesmanship involves the little nuances that give a team an advantage. This was the best I've ever seen. They were subtle. It was a work of art.

Of the 12 teams in this tournament, only the USA and Cuba had predetermined schedules. All other teams drew their schedules.

How could you arrange such a schedule to create an advantage? First, make the USA team the visitors in all crucial games, while making Cuba the home team in crucial ones.

Second, make the USA play half of its games at 10:30 a.m. in the hottest part of the day, while 80 percent of Cuba's games are scheduled at night in the Havana cool.

Third, give the USA the sunny dugout in all day games. This was really a neat trick. The USA played on two fields and at either 10:30 a.m. or 2:30 p.m.

Fourth, disrupt the resting patterns of the American players as much as possible, and reduce the practice time by playing the USA games at 9:30 or 10:30 a.m. We only could get a bus two hours early for a morning game.

Fifth, put 18 players to a room to create conflict. We overcame this by planning trips to break up the day.

Sixth, hire the cook from hell.

Seventh, let the TV cameraman call your pitcher's pitches for the Cuban hitters.

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