Cuban Baseball Newsbeat
Thursday, January 14, 2016
Thursday, January 07, 2016
Brayan is a delight.
We walked over to the bathroom and I turned to him and kind of laughed.
“I don’t think you’re going to want to be in there for this one. Come on, where am I gonna go?”
“Okay Peña, you got five minutes. Hurry up.”
The door closed behind me. The window was open.
This was real. This was really happening. I started breathing so hard I thought I might pass out. On the other side of that window might be anything. It might be my friend. It might be security. Or it might be nobody at all. It might be freedom, or it might be jail.
I had nothing but the clothes on my back. No bag. No money. No passport.
Then … I just went for it.
I flushed the toilet to make some noise and jumped up and grabbed the ledge. I was numb, man. I was thinking, Be there. Please, please, please God, be there.
I crawled through the small opening …
And I saw my friend behind the wheel of his car.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
El Paso Herald, December 30, 1915:
Only the unwritten rule that bars negroes from major league participation has kept out of organized baseball one of Cuba’s most wonderful players—“Black” Gonzales.
Gonzales has an ear so finely attuned that the instant the bat hits the ball he can tell where it is going. Time and again he has been blindfolded and then called off the exact direction in which the drive is going. Very often he has fielded the ball while in an outfield position with his eyes covered.
Gonzales is a husky negro who is a wonder behind the bat, a grand outfielder and a terrific hitter. The major leaguers who have seen him in action say he hits the ball harder than any man other than Ed Delehanty [sic].
Also, he’s probably not a real person. According to Who’s Who in Cuban Baseball, 1878-1961, these are the contemporary Cuban Gonzalii: Papo Gonzalez, who eventually played for the Boston Red Sox. Gervasio Gonzalez, who was a heck of a player, but was a catcher. Mike Gonzalez, who both played and managed in the Major Leagues. Octavio Gonzalez, an infielder who spent 1914 in the Sally League. Primitivo Gonzalez, an outfielder who finished with zero career hits in the Cuban league. Ramon Gonzalez, an infielder who played eight seasons in US minor league baseball. And Valentin Gonzalez, an outfielder (check) who led the league in hits five times (check), but was light-skinned enough to have played in the South Atlantic League.
I’m pretty confident in asserting that Black Gonzalez is a fictional character. Am I missing an obvious candidate?
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Manfred and Castro are two peas in a pod. Or not.
Yet for all the Cuban government’s rhetoric about America’s athletic imperialism, it may have an unlikely ally in MLB on the issues that concern it most. Despite MLB’s reputation as a fiercely capitalist industry worth $9 billion a year, the game’s economic model has much in common with Cuban-style socialist principles. To maintain fans’ interest, MLB needs a competitive balance between its rich and poor clubs. It accomplishes this by levying a tax on teams with high payrolls, and via an annual draft that routes the best young players to losing franchises. Cuban players aged over 23 with at least five years in the National Series are exempt from these rules. That enables them to auction their services to the highest bidder, undermining MLB’s carefully calibrated system of economic redistribution and reducing club owners’ profits. As a result, MLB is likely to advocate a tightly controlled system of acquiring Cuban players, rather than a free-for-all.
Posted: December 20, 2015 at 07:43 AM | 2 comment(s)
Friday, December 18, 2015
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Several Cuban defectors turned MLB stars returned to the country Tuesday as part of Major League Baseball’s goodwill trip to the island.
Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers, Jose Abreu of the White Sox, Brayan Pena of the Cardinals and free agent Alexei Ramirez were part of the group of players making MLB’s first visit to Cuba since 1999, when the Orioles played an exhibition game.
The goodwill mission includes youth clinics and a visit to the charity Caritas Cubana, and runs from Tuesday to Friday.
Posted: December 16, 2015 at 07:00 AM | 1 comment(s)
Monday, December 14, 2015
Yulieski Gourriel is 31 years old and the best player left in Cuba. Friends of his swear he was offered $50 million in an elevator to defect at the first World Baseball Classic in 2006. He instead plays third base for the Industriales, his biggest perk a silver Lada sedan from Russia, his wages ostensibly same as everyone else. Earlier this year, Gourriel told Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff that he is waiting for permission from the Cuban government to play in the major leagues. A source close to the Gourriel family told Yahoo Sports: “He wants to do it legally.” Lourdes Gourriel, the family’s patriarch, was a longtime Serie Nacional star and friendly with Castro. Lourdes Gourriel Jr., also known as Yunito, is a 22-year-old shortstop who might attract even more interest than big brother Yulieski
For the Gourriels and the Mesas – Victor Mesa’s son, known as Victor Victor, has major league talent – and other families, the tug of home is strong enough still to keep them on the island. Because even as Cuba struggles to understand its identity today and into the future, the familiar comforts those who stayed enough to make them consider the future and how soon they might be able to leave and return.
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