Someday Victor Mesa and Ariel Pestano will make it up. Or not. For now, they’ve been able to put in the same bag what Cuban writer Mañach defined as the three cyclic forms of nationality: the ball, the rumor and the lottery.
Team Cuba is like the lottery: be part of it can become as eventful and gratifying as drawing the winning number, and such a reality brings its respective share of amplified rumor.
At least no one can question that both, Victor and Pestano, have made the film a little more interesting, with all the curiosity and suspense that we are not yet able to digest. We have spent years speculating without any basis and now when there is a plot with conflict in our hands we condemn it being shocking. But it isn’t rough, but pleasant, and we condemn it, in truth, because we do not know what to do with it.
The duel between the legendary center field versus untouchable receptor, Zeus against Achilles, Kramer vs. Kramer slowly gets away in our very noses because we can’t decipher who the hero and who the villain is. Good sign. Our minds change. We little by little start to understand that in real life there are no duels between heroes or villains, and no easy recipe for the easiness of our consciences.
It seems instinctive in man the need of good and evil, or to take partisan formulas. It was what we did recently with Silvio and Pablo, for example. Some condemned Pablo for making concessions and Silvio – guess what! – for making concessions too. Pablo was the spearhead of a discredited right and Silvio of an aging left. I do not think either of them is a symbol of nothing but themselves, or something that beats themselves, I mean, their respective masteries. What mastery? Beauty.
Balzac was absolutist and wrote a couple of novels from which Marx and Engels learned more about the bourgeois society than from any treaty of the time. Borges was photographed with Pinochet, but wrote some of the most revolutionary literature of his time. I mean, who cares about those personal gestures, what importance a single moment has, or any individual statement. A man is a hero or a villain according to what he does with his life, to what he is able to deliver to humanity (this sounds alarmist, but it is real) and not by what he says, let alone by the believes he assures to profess (the demagogue spends his life assuring what he is not, simply because he is not that and fears getting caught).
In a decent world, the political measure for an athlete or an artist, and also for an official, if he so prefers, would be beauty. Beauty should be the measure of all political things. In that sense, Victor and Pestano are absolutely men of the left, but both the artist and the athlete would do better if they didn’t leave the stage or the field, because then they would cease to be artists or athletes, and become just people. In other words, a total disaster.
Both, outside the stadium, can be classified as center-right, perhaps as center-left. They are somewhere out there. In the monastic and sacrificed image we have of a revolutionary there is no space for Victor’s hand gestures, his brash attitude on camera, hardly his sincerity or his whims. Pestano is more diplomatic; a Member of Parliament, but his arrogance we could not take it as useful without committing a sin. There is nothing vulnerable in Pestano. Not in his heels. Not in his average. Not the repeated failures of Cuba.
In short: it is not so much the ease of Victor or Pestano’s presumptions as the encapsulation and our false modesty. And it’s not so much the severity of the situation as the fact that, at public level, nothing ever happens.
Victor spoke of Bell. Bell answered back. They contradicted each other. Well, that’s not bad. Think. They are words. In this world there is war, time passes, there are children in the streets, there’s petty people will never know misery, only the luxury and Paris, there are fiber optic cables. So how serious is that two men contradict each other?
Victor and Pestano have all the defects that we want them to have, but they are masters at what they do. No Messiahs. When we get rid of the Messiahs, when we stop entrusting ourselves to biblical savior, and understand that the people who play and manage teams are like us, maybe the defeats hurt less and victories delight us more.
If we wish to add morbidity to the issue, let’s think, then, that Pestano, by knowledge and skill, looms as a future director. Manager of Villa Clara and possibly of Cuba. Let’s think Victor’s son might play for Villa Clara or maybe he becomes as good as the father, but not enough and then have to fight for a position against another outfielder for the fifth Classic.
See? It’s easy. Life is full of action and possible retaliation. Life, shit, is cyclical, and sadistic, and it is never exhausted, and no one can catch it. It’s like a forkball against the ground. Or as a line in the gap.