In a few hours, Venezuela and seven other teams will begin the journey that may lead them to contest the baseball medal table at the Tokyo Olympics in the middle of the year. It is not an expeditious path, under the assumption that they are teams belonging to places where baseball is traditionally played with a high technical and competitive level.
The main obstacle is in the number of applicants. The International Olympic Committee decided to reopen the doors of the event to only six countries, while there are four with a guaranteed place: Japan, Korea, Israel and Mexico.
In the first phase of this Las Americas tie, Venezuela will have to compete in group “B” with Cuba, Colombia and Canada. Meanwhile in section “A” will be the United States, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.
And that is where there is another major drawback. At first glance, no one can afford to lose because the margin to recover from a setback is practically minimal.
Each team will have a match with the other three, and the first two will advance to a second round also all against all. The winning team will go straight to Tokyo, and the second and third will advance to a playoff with Taiwan, China, the Netherlands and Australia, from which only one team will emerge.
In theory, America will have the probability of having three of the qualified teams. However, we cannot confuse things. Especially as we pointed out, the room for maneuver is narrow.
Always in theory, Venezuela has an option worth considering. His baseball at this time is above that played in Cuba and Colombia. For various reasons, his intimate relationship with Organized Baseball. A privilege that Cuba does not enjoy and for which Colombia takes its first steps.
Hence, this afternoon’s meeting in West Palm Beach will be of paramount importance, because of the game itself, and because of the presence of the big league Aníbal Sánchez as the starting pitcher, who should offer a considerable winning option. If not 100 percent, 80 or 90.
That percentage will not be as high compared to Colombia, but it would leave the ninth led by José Alguacil, before a life or death commitment with Canada on the third and final date. Ideally, for this match, Venezuela arrives with both feet in the decisive round.
But let’s look at things from a more real perspective. Of the team sports, baseball is where a team weaker than the rival, has a higher percentage of victory than a more limited squad would have in games such as soccer, basketball.
A reality that cannot be better expressed, as the old saying goes: “The ball is round and comes in a square box.”
What characteristics will Venezuela have to counteract this belief?
The 28 warriors of the national team
Venezuela’s roster has a bit of everything in terms of skills, as well as the presence of experience, although not an excessive number of veterans, according to what was counted by manager José Alguacil and general manager Luis Blasini in the selection.
Pitchers: Adrián Almeida, Henry Centeno, Harold Chirinos, Enmanuel De Jesús, Jonathan Díaz, Moisés Gómez, Erick Leal, Wilfredo Ledezma, Arcenio León, Andrés Machado, Gabriel Moya, Danny Rondón, Aníbal Sánchez, Andrés Sotillet and Jesús Zambrazo. Receivers: Robinson Chirinos, Tomás Telis, Carlos Pérez. Infielders: Alí Castillo, Luis Castro, Yonny Hernández, Alexander Palma, Hernán Pérez, Juniel Querecuto and José Rondón. Gardeners: Ramón Flores, Diego Rincones and Danry Vásquez.
The Sheriff’s manager and his assistants
The technicians: Manager: José Alguacil. Banking coach: Carlos García. Third base coach, Liu Rodríguez. Pitching coach Mike Alvarez. Batting coach and first baseman, Wilfredo Romero. Bullpen coach, Nestor Rojas. Trainers and physical trainers, Johan Hernández and Keito Homma.
Unprecedented event for our country
Venezuelan baseball has not participated in the Olympics, although it is an event with little experience. It began in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, 1996 in Atlanta, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. Cuba has three gold medals, and the United States and South Korea one per side.
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