On the field, players shook the umpire's hand at home plate. Bats and helmets were communal equipment. The game was exceptional. Pinar del Rio's Omar Linares, the world's best amateur player, twice ripped long doubles, sending the conga players to euphoric heights. We joined right in, screaming and exchanging high-fives with the fans. (They thought we were scouts for the Yankees.) Alas, Santiago took a 6-2 lead, won the game, and swept the series the next night. All in all, though, Cuban beisbol was very, very good to us.