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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.

Moses Taylor Posted: April 17, 2014 at 11:38 AM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cuba, dodgers, long reads

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. The Mighty Quinn Posted: April 17, 2014 at 08:03 PM (#4688187)
Quite a good story, oddly ESPN has a even longer version by a different writer on it's site.

The contracts paid Cuban baseball players have always seemed to me to be rather exorbitant. To a degree it may be simple supply and demand, but this article makes me wonder if MLB teams build in the cost of these contracts, all the various pay outs and inducements the players have to pay out to various third parties.
   2. Al Kaline Trio Posted: April 17, 2014 at 08:42 PM (#4688216)
I don't practice Santeria,
I ain't got no crystal ball,
but I gotta Cuban slugger who can...
Do it all!
   3. base ball chick Posted: April 17, 2014 at 09:30 PM (#4688240)
is that our primate joe kehoskie that is the former consultant/agent?
   4. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 17, 2014 at 11:16 PM (#4688293)
is that our primate joe kehoskie that is the former consultant/agent?

Yeah, and I signed Mickey Mantle and Barry Bonds.

   5. base ball chick Posted: April 17, 2014 at 11:49 PM (#4688302)
it is not like kehoskie is this real common name you know
and our joe does live in upstate ny...

which is why i asked....

it IS baseball and youneverknow
   6. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 17, 2014 at 11:58 PM (#4688303)
I assume it is. Our Joe has been quite active (and informed) on various Cuban signing threads through the years. Of course, it would have helped had this paragraph:

In upstate New York Joe Kehoskie’s phone rang, too. “The first call was for $250,000, and by the next day, the price was up to $500,000,” said Kehoskie, a former agent and consultant. He had received similar calls before—most agents with Latin American clients did—even though MLB rules on “improper inducements” prohibit them from paying anything to win a player’s business. “Nobody’s going to Cuba and bringing out a guy like Yasiel Puig,” Kehoskie told me, “and just handing him over to an agent out of the goodness of their heart.

ended with, "because...well liberals."
   7. Matt Welch Posted: April 18, 2014 at 01:34 PM (#4688570)
I wonder how much of this stuff would change if MLB just automatically made them free agents once they set foot here? Would the incentives/hazards look a lot different?
   8. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: April 18, 2014 at 02:17 PM (#4688602)
I wonder how much of this stuff would change if MLB just automatically made them free agents once they set foot here?


MLB does not have the legal authority to grant the right to work in the United States.
   9. Howling John Shade Posted: April 18, 2014 at 02:33 PM (#4688611)
I've spent a reasonable amount of time on Isla Mujeres (if you ever want to go snorkeling with whale-sharks - which you should - then it's a good place to go) and the idea of a hostage drama playing out in a hotel there is kind of surreal.

Also, the Joe in the article is almost certainly our Joe. He used to live in Merida (I assume because it's close to Cuba) and he's definitely mentioned his agent days a few times.
   10. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 18, 2014 at 02:38 PM (#4688616)
I just did a search for "LOL" in that article, & it's not there. No way is Kehoskie involved.
   11. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: April 18, 2014 at 03:03 PM (#4688632)
Also, the Joe in the article is almost certainly our Joe. He used to live in Merida


Are you sure you aren't misspelling mierda?
   12. Misirlou is too lofty, and grabs up all the light Posted: April 18, 2014 at 03:17 PM (#4688640)
Yasiel, Yasiel: A Young Man's Strange Erotic Journey from Cuba to California
   13. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: April 18, 2014 at 05:03 PM (#4688720)
What's missing from the story was Jokey's confusion and disappointment in the Cubans' refusal to address him as "Bwana". Wrong continent, sir.
   14. Esoteric Posted: April 18, 2014 at 05:23 PM (#4688732)
Wait. So let me get this straight: Joe Kehoskie is cited as an expert source in a very interesting story involving Yasiel Puig and the Cuban "smuggling" process for baseball players...and most people's reaction here is to start snarking because he's a right-winger?

Interesting set of priorities the self-appointed "Thinking Fans" of baseball seem to have...
   15. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: April 18, 2014 at 05:30 PM (#4688741)
Aw come on. If he was offended by it, he'd leave. It's just good-natured banter. He can dish it out, too.
   16. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 18, 2014 at 05:42 PM (#4688753)
Wait. So let me get this straight: Joe Kehoskie is cited as an expert source in a very interesting story involving Yasiel Puig and the Cuban "smuggling" process for baseball players...and most people's reaction here is to start snarking because he's a right-winger?


Lighten up Eso. I think it's cool.
   17. tshipman Posted: April 18, 2014 at 06:06 PM (#4688769)
Lighten up Eso. I think it's cool.


It's ####### rude to talk #### about someone when they're not even in the thread. Even if he pisses you off, Joe is a person. The entire point of the OTP thread is to leave it in that thread.

Joe is very knowledgeable about Cuban baseball and has interesting things to say on it. Whenever there is a defection (seems like more and more lately), he has a fairly full scouting report. Lately he's been more pessimistic about the quality of the league, which I find interesting.
   18. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 18, 2014 at 06:19 PM (#4688777)

It's ####### rude to talk #### about someone when they're not even in the thread. Even if he pisses you off, Joe is a person. The entire point of the OTP thread is to leave it in that thread.


Lighten up tshipman. My comment wasn't said with rancor (which the observation that he was both active and informed on Cuban matters should have indicated). And since I don't tread much in the OTP waters, he doesn't piss me off. But the simple fact that around here he's far more active in political threads than in baseball threads. I'm sorry, but it's true.

   19. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 18, 2014 at 06:26 PM (#4688787)
And since I don't tread much in the OTP waters, he doesn't piss me off. But the simple fact that around here he's far more active in political threads than in baseball threads. I'm sorry, but it's true.

Wait a minute — this isn't a political site?

Now you tell me.
   20. JE (Jason) Posted: April 18, 2014 at 07:19 PM (#4688816)
Heck, I'm flabbergasted that anyone here would have assumed a "Joe Kehoskie" in upstate New York talking about Cuban ballplayers would *not* be our Joe.
   21. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: April 18, 2014 at 07:27 PM (#4688826)
How many "Joe Kehoskie's" in the world, non-related to Joe Kehoskie, are there?
   22. Esoteric Posted: April 18, 2014 at 09:27 PM (#4688931)
Well, for one there's me. MY name is also "Joe Kehoskie."***










***Okay, no it's not.
   23. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:07 PM (#4688966)
MLB does not have the legal authority to grant the right to work in the United States
That wasn't the question.
   24. base ball chick Posted: April 18, 2014 at 10:41 PM (#4688981)
jeez

all i did is ask - is that our joe

i had no idea that joe was knowledgeable about cuban baseball, or that he was a former agent.

i certainly did not mean in any way to insult the guy, and i do not care if he is right wing or left. with one exception, i talk to everyone here no matter what

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