I have been an avid fan of baseball for as long as I can remember. Being born in La Havana, Cuba baseball is our religion, it is our driving force in sports, and it is everything. For the last 55 years, Cuban born players have been forced to risk their lives to escape a communistic regime that suppresses their hopes and dreams to play baseball in the biggest stage.
“The unsavory and life-threatening methods by which Cuban players leave the island — a process that often involves payoffs to human smugglers — have the potential to change,” said Jon Paul Morosi from Foxsports.
While the details of the actual results of the positive relationship between Cuba and the United States are still unknown, it’s conceivable that Cuban players will be permitted to leave the island legally and play in Major League Baseball.
Although many Cuban-Americans loathe the fact that in order for Cuban players to successfully play in the United States without having to defect and risk their lives, is for the U.S. teams would owe a “posting fee”, like Japanese and Korean teams have done for the last few years. “The Cuban government may allow Cuban MLB players to represent their homeland at international events like the World Baseball Classic and/or participate in Cuba’s domestic winter league, known as Serie Nacional,” said Jon Paul Morosi from Fox Sports.
Other countries like Dominican Republic and Venezuela already have those privileges. With the only caveat being that some of the top tier players are restricted sometimes by their teams to avoid excessive playing in the offseason.
Players like Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox, Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins, and Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers would not return to the Cuban National Series, but they would definitely join the national team for international tournaments like the World Baseball Classic. One of the ultimate goals for Major League Baseball is to have academies of all 30 teams in the actual country like they have in the Dominican Republic. Ultimately my hope is that we get these mutual relations to succeed. I do not want players to have to experience the hardships of defecting from Cuba.
For example, Jose Fernandez from the Miami Marlins is the prime example of what has to stop immediately. Fernandez was born in Santa Clara, Cuba, and it was not until 2008 when he was 15 years old that he was able to successfully defect from the communist country. It was actually his fourth attempt, in which the previous three resulted in a prison term. “During the final attempt, Fernandez courageously jumped into the Gulf of Mexico waters to save his mother after rough waves knocked her overboard. He would later say he didn’t realize it was his mother who went overboard until he reached her in the water — he reacted and jumped right in as soon as he saw someone get swept over” said Mike Axisa, a baseball writer.
These are the kind of decisions and ordeals Cuban players face in order to not only provide for their families but to successfully compete in the highest level. This is one of the reasons why I believe that Baseball, is one of the leading factors for the Cuba and United States relations to improve, in the end there is a lot of money that both countries can benefit from, and ultimately help the Cuban players to realize their dreams.
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Amy McCormack, Ph.D.
Calumet College of St. Joseph
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