THE MODERATOR: We wanted to share this moment with all of the media. We believed that it was convenient to take this step with the additional support of the organizing committee, the Baseball Federation, the whole coaching staff headed by Mr. Luis Sojo, and take advantage of you being able to share impressions of the issues that you deem prudent at this time.
We can't be too long because the Puerto Rico team is coming in. Just ask brief questions and take advantage of the time.
Q. The question is for Edwin Zerpa: Evidently this failure in the first round, I imagine that lead to a study as to what happened and a reordering of the pieces in light of the next World Baseball Classic, which will be in four years?
EDWIN ZERPA: Well, firstly, I want to state that we do not consider the participation in this event as a failure because there are many factors that can go wrong. On April 15th in Tokyo, the International Baseball Federation, where we are going to make our statements of the circumstances on teams like Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, that have teams of great relevance and players that are in Big League and have some prohibitions, some limitations that do not allow us to give the performance that we wanted.
And beyond that, we've achieved the objective that we set. Today we weren't fortunate. We insist that we have the best coaches available for Venezuela, and that we have the best team for Venezuela right now, although some people could not be or were not able to be present.
As a federation what we're interested in is to defend the colors of our mother country. That's what's important. We're not talking about creating any team or just participating. We came here wanting to win. But it was not possible. That's baseball. We didn't win. We don't think that it was a failure in our participation, rather we are going to analyze what we went wrong.
For us the team was built with regards to discipline, organization and competitiveness. Fortunately we didn't have the right moments, the key hits, and we didn't win.
But we believe that this team is one of the best teams in the world, with the limitations that I said, that are the prohibitions and the lack of training.
Q. Question for Luis and for Edwin, also: Edwin mentioned the limitation of the time of training. Carlos in his press conference mentioned that that was one of the greatest problems is that they did not have enough time for training. Luis, do you believe that there needs to be some kind of change in format to facilitate the teams to be together longer and be able to train more? And Edwin, are you going to tell this to the International Baseball Federation or do you have to give this to Major League Baseball, who is the one that organizes this tournament?
LUIS SOJO: If they make the change in dates or not, the most important thing is we should be given more time to train as a team. I mean, I think that teamwork is very important, regardless of the chemistry and the unity that exists in these players.
But I believe that that's the most important thing, that we need more time. Two games are not enough, and we're not here to give excuses. But we're also here to try to resolve things that can be positive, not only for one group of teams but for all. I mean, it should be equal for everyone.
EDWIN ZERPA: Well, with regards to what you're saying, it depends on the International Baseball Organization, the World Baseball Classic, which is comprised of representatives of the Players' Association, the baseball teams and the commissioner, and a complement of the World Classic organization, which is autonomous.
So the conditions you saw, upon request of the World Federation this year, they changed three conditions of the World Classic of 2009. The time is one of them and so forth. We can state that we could change because it's not possible to have 12 teams train, and four cannot train. It's the same situation. This is not an excuse, but you are seeing Italy winning, what's going on in Asia, you saw what just happened in Phoenix, with other teams that have qualified not here, because you knew from the beginning that this was a tough pool, that here there were three teams that were going to play each other tough for two positions.
There was no forecast for those circumstances. What I'm stating is whether it's 16 countries or 32 countries that went to the qualifying rounds, and to study and analyze it, to make proposals or recommendations, if it's a change of date or maybe give more permission to the Major League players.
This event without Big League players will fail. I mean, there are provisions of some players, but without the players of Big League teams, this event has no chance of success.
Q. My question is for Edwin Zerpa, could it be considered among the reasons why Venezuela didn't go to the second round are the limitations that the national selection had, taking into account the teams like Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic that also had to deal with the same circumstances?
EDWIN ZERPA: Well, when I say that, for example, our team, our roster, how it's comprised, 80 percent or more had Major League experience. You know the Dominicans in 2009, did something similar to now, they said that they're going to train alone, but they got together. We did not have that chance. There was always a restriction, only two games.
We organize the event with this team that we have, this coaching staff, that to me I consider all the work that was done a success. And the coaching staff, I repeat, it's a most excellent group of coaches that we have in our country. They made the selection, they saw the weaknesses and strengths, and they made an obligation to participate and because we knew that we had the best team.
We did not have the circumstances. We're not excusing ourselves, we're not blaming anyone other than to say that we lost because the others played better or got timely hits or made plays that we were not able to make. That's the game of baseball. Whoever performed better and whoever was luckier won. But we had the best team of players and the best technical team. We're not apologizing, we're simply saying that in the future there has to be changes.
There should be changes in terms of giving more time for athletes to train together. If there's no training and no games, no playing, nobody gets ready, as you say in baseball slang.
Q. I would like to ask you whether you're going to continue to study the team and keep Luis Sojo as manager of the team. Is it official?
EDWIN ZERPA: Well, I've always said the word "resignation" does not fit here. 2006 was one stage and 2009 was another stage. Everyone who was here at the first meeting that we had before, Luis, win or lose, we need to give some space to other people. And I asked Luis to be with me as advisor, in the presidency of the federation, because I'm not saying only as a man who played in the Big Leagues, nor as a man who was a manager this year, I'm just looking at the human being. I'm looking at the personality that this man has, and saying that, not only are we talking about the Big Leagues, we're talking about the new generations, we're talking about the players that represent us at the Central American games, the Pan-American games. And much of the staff that's with me, the coaches, I want to know if there are coaches aside from the seven that are here that have that quality and are willing to give 30 days to represent our country. I'm going to work for the new generation, for the youth categories, and I'm going to work for the Olympic. Those positions are there.
Somebody was saying, "Luis Sojo lost. We want his resignation." Now we lost in the games with teams at our level and then they're asking for the resignation from the manager and the president of the Federation. I was chosen by the people who work in baseball and all kinds, trainers, umpires, managers. My team here, Sojo was elected by us. We nominated him as manager and he looked for the coaches. It's like an search that we do internally, not only with this category but all categories have the same treatment because for us it's the same. The manager of the World Classic, as the manager of children's category, they have the same privileges to lead a team.
I'm not saying we have elections in the federation. On April 20, but the elections could be advanced or delayed, but in our period of our management, I cannot talk about the future, but after that date we'll talk about the future. We'll see.
I do say that as a sports manager that these seven people deserve the trust of continuing while working in this World Classic.
Q. Can we report, the Federation gives the total support to the coaching staff? And if it were you, you would continue with the team?
EDWIN ZERPA: Like we already talked, I said here before, even before calling "play ball," I talked with Sojo to help me continue working with the same team and to get the possibilities of the manager and all this. This does not mean that he has failed. I mean, we had third place in the 2009 Classic and no one said anything.
Today wasn't the most difficult part. We did not go on to the second round. But I think here that the coaching staff did an excellent job, the coaches, and I think this federation has the support of the the staff has the support and the professional league that works for us also has the support. We have been with the professional team with the baseball league and unity project and all these projects were in common accord with all of us. No one forced anyone. This is team work, and we consider that it was excellent. We consider that the performance was excellent and they deserve to be given the chance.
Q. The manager Luis Sojo said yesterday that his coaches, he said that there were people who could assume the command of the selection. Do you think that the next manager is from the team of coaches?
EDWIN ZERPA: Well, I am certainly sure I aspire to repeat in the Federation for one more period, and my proposal would be to keep this staff, the coaches, keeping the they can choose a manager amongst themselves, but this staff has proven that they love their country and that they want to win. They want the best for the country, and not only in baseball, but they go beyond, other programs that we have underway and projects, projects that we have, even if we don't win the election, some sports projects underway for children, training centers and other things that we are we are counting on them. So they only see the coaches of the Classic, baseball coaches, coaches that are not facing a future situation of world championship responsibilities. That's any tournament, not only the World Classic.
Q. Luis, what experience do you get from this Classic? The second one, here you don't have tomorrow, how do you train for that sense of urgency?
LUIS SOJO: The experience is such, it's something very important personally that this group of gentlemen here, working with me, really it's a luxury to have this group of coaches. I mean, like Mr. Zerpa said, the unconditional support that we've had mutually. We started this round very positively, very positively. There are things that are out of our hands. But I mean, like with Venezuela it's the same with other teams and we don't have control of that. But I can tell you, a while ago when we had the meeting, when the game was over, I told the ballplayers, I tip my cap to them, to give my respect because regardless of whether there is no tomorrow the thought was positive all the time. We knew, and you said it, maybe we need more at bats. At this time you have to give it all.
But it's a short tournament, and if you don't perform, things are not going to come out right. So maybe that's what happened in the games against Dominican and Puerto Rico and that's why we're here in this situation.
THE MODERATOR: To finalize, Carlos, general manager, you as a sports person, Edwin talked about unity.
CARLOS MIGUEL OROPEZA: Well, to ratify everything, from the beginning we set an objective that we as organizing committee the Venezuelan Baseball Federation, we were trying to control and take all the logistics of this event without the ballplayers and the coaches having to worry. That's a part of everything, of organizing this team, this baseball team. But in the end there's a lot of work, and it entails a lot of the ways they have to keep really short so they can concentrate on the objective, which is to play.
I believe that there's already been talk, you guys covered the sources for many years, there's no apology here, no excuses. We're not looking for anyone to blame. Simply Puerto Rico and Dominican, they executed on the playing field, but we were not able to. The team was ready, and they came with great aspirations. Something happened on the field, we could not move forward and that's it. The decisions of what's going to happen from now on have been very well stated here by Zerpa and Luis Sojo, and the objective of this press conference and everyone here is to show to you that there is a unity in this group, the support that they feel.
We came here to move forward and to win a championship as a group, and also to do it together, and we're all here, and I thank all that group of people who is behind us that no one forced them to be here. They came on their own accord to support the effort in a job that has been done for two years. To continue there are many things that must be analyzed as to what this tournament is, where it's going, how we have to prepare to face it. It's a very complicated tournament, very difficult.