Eulogio Vilanova is a legendary manager in La Serie Nacional (Cuban National Series). Here’s why he reminds me of legendary MLB manager Jack McKeon.
Eulogio Vilanova was the manager of the Havana Metropolitanos of La Serie Nacional, the equivalent of the New York Mets in MLB for quite a few years. He managed the capital city’s number 2 ball club from 1998-2002 and always made water into wine.
In 2000 he guided the squad to a 46-44 and put the fear of Jesus into a powerhouse Industriales team managed by Guillermo Carmona, in a spirited first-round matchup in the Serie Nacional playoffs.
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Some say the Metros in defeat actually won because they took a heavily favored team that was better than them at each position to the brink. Industriales eventually won the series 3-2 to advance but not before the Metros won the hearts of Havana’s faithful. The Metros were contracted by the Serie Nacional in 2012
Having spent plenty of time at his training academy in Hialeah, Fla, his mannerisms and style remind me of Jack McKeon. At his academy, he trains Miami’s youth about the intricacies of the game. He has plenty of experience and interesting stories to share with today’s youth.
What is your fondest memory during your time in the Serie Nacional?
When Oriente beat Industriales in Havana ‘s Latinoamericano Stadium behind an impeccable pitching performance by Manuel Alarcón.
Compare the talent level in Cuba in the time you managed as opposed to today’s talent level in the Serie Nacional?
There is still a lot of talent in Cuba, but the organization and the development of talent in Cuba is lackluster at best.
Who is the best manager you faced off within the Serie Nacional?
Without a doubt, it would have to Jorge Fuentes of Pinar del Río. He was the consummate teacher, due to that the players loved and respected him. We are both from the José Manuel Pineda coaching tree.
During your time managing the Metros, which was your most talented team?
It was definitely the 1999-2000 team that included Enrique Díaz, Bárbaro Cañizares, Yadel Martí, Rudy Reyes and Yoandry Urgelles. Urgelles won the rookie of the year that season. We had Industriales on the ropes that year in our playoff series. But we eventually succumbed to a more talented team.
What do we have to do to save the Serie Nacional?
To save our baseball we need to allow al those players that play in various leagues around the world to return and play in Cuba. When need to change our mentality and stop politicizing baseball. If we don’t do that we might be left without a national pastime.