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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Escape from Cuba: Yasiel Puig’s Untold Journey to the Dodgers

Fascinating look into Puig’s journey from Cuba to the Dodgers:

In a no-tell motel on Isla Mujeres, eight miles off the coast of Cancún, Yasiel Puig’s escape had come to a halt. Confined to a corner room at the end of a shabby horseshoe-shaped courtyard, he could only wait and hope, for his value to be appraised, his freedom to be bought. There was nothing personal about it, no loved one vowing to pay any price, only the calculus of a crude business. What was this gladiator-size man, with the Popeye forearms and the XXL chest, actually worth—to the people bankrolling his defection from Cuba, to the smugglers now holding him in Mexico, to the agents and scouts who would determine the U.S. market for his talents, to the baseball team that might ultimately write the check?

For close to a year Puig had been trying to force an answer, to extract himself from Fidel Castro’s state-run sports machine, which paid him $17 a month, and sneak across the tropics to a mythical north, where even benchwarmers lived like kings. Two, three, four times, maybe more, he had risked everything and fled, only to be detained by the Cuban authorities or intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard—each failure making the next attempt more urgent. Finally, in June 2012, the 21-year-old outfielder left his home in Cienfuegos, on Cuba’s southern shore, and set off by car for the northern province of Matanzas, just 90 miles from Florida. He was traveling with three companions: a boxer, a pinup girl, and a Santeria priest, the latter of whom blessed their expedition with a splash of rum and a sprinkle of chicken blood.

HMS Moses Taylor Posted: April 17, 2014 at 11:38 AM | 24 comment(s)
  Beats: cuba, dodgers, long reads

Monday, March 17, 2014

Nieman Storyboard: Annotation Tuesday! Roger Angell and the pitcher with a major-league case of the yips

After almost 40 years, Roger Angell looks back on the making of one of his classic essays.

After giving up a home run to the Reds’ second batter of the day, Joe Morgan, which was hit off a first-pitch fastball, Blass readjusted his plans and went mostly to a big, slow curve, causing the Reds to hit innumerable rainmaking outfield flies, and won 5-1. I can still recall how Blass looked that afternoon–his characteristic, feet-together stance at the outermost, first-base edge of the pitching rubber, and then the pitch, delivered with a swastika-like scattering of arms and legs and a final lurch to the left–and I also remember how I kept thinking that at any moment the sluggers of the Big Red Machine would stop overstriding and overswinging against such unintimidating deliveries and drive Blass to cover.

Just read it.

AndrewJ Posted: March 17, 2014 at 07:45 PM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: long reads, pirates, roger angell, writing worth reading

 

 

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