updated 7/16/2008 9:35:59 PM ET 2008-07-17T01:35:59

Fidel Castro on Wednesday blasted the "rich and powerful masters" of the Olympics for dropping baseball from the games beginning in 2012, and said two recent defeats to the United States doesn't mean Cuba can't still win gold in Beijing.

In a brief but confusing essay, the ailing, 81-year-old former president noted the "thundering indignation of the fans because of Saturday's hard defeat."

He was apparently referring to Cuba's 4-1 loss to the United States on Sunday, during the championship game of the 24th Haarlem Baseball Week in Holland.

That loss came after the Americans topped Cuba in the World Cup final in November. Cuba has nevertheless won three of the four Olympic gold medals since baseball became a medal sport in 1992 — settling for silver only in 2000, when it was upset by the United States.

Castro wrote that the latest incarnation of the national team has "not been defeated."

"We haven't given up on them," he wrote. "We send them a message to raise their spirits."

He went on to suggest that jet lag could hurt Cuba's chances during the Beijing Games, stating that members of the national team, "do not deserve major criticisms if something does not go right."

"They are going to the Olympic Games, which will be played on the other side of the world, where sleeping patterns and the rhythm of life changes," he wrote.

Baseball will not be on the Olympic program in 2012, though officials are hopeful it could return in the future. Castro said the Cuban team has "all eyes on the last appearance of their sport in the Olympics, because that's what the rich and powerful masters of the games have decreed."

He also said he wasn't counting Cuba out, and seemed to be urging nervous baseball fans all over the island to do the same, writing "why don't we wait until the end of the Olympics before discussing at length, and in a democratic way, the responsibility of all those who are involved in Cuban sports."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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