Saturday, March 2, 2013

Let peloteros play with good ol' U.S. of A!

It's a story that gets written every time the World Baseball Classic gets played.
 
The tourney that pits national ballclubs filled with professional athletes against each other to attempt to achieve a legitimate "world" champion includes the Cuba national baseball team.

YET EQUIPO CUBA picks its ballplayers from the best who live on the Caribbean island nation. Those peloteros who defected from their homelands to live and play baseball professionally in the United States?

They wind up being excluded from partaking in the tourney -- unlike the many U.S. ballplayers of strong ethnic ties who go to play for the national teams of their countries of origin. Cuba treats its defectors like the gusanos Fidel Castro claims them to be.

So for the 18 current ballplayers of Cuban citizenship who are in the U.S. major leagues? This tourney won't mean much -- although a new report by Fox Sports indicates that at least some of them will quietly be rooting for their home country, even though they couldn't take living there any longer.

That Fox report quoted a couple of ballplayers who seem to like the idea of allowing the Cuban defectors in the United States to create their own ballclub for the World Baseball Classic.

JOKINGLY, IT GETS called Team Miami -- for the fact that the southern Florida city is the spiritual capital of the exile community, regardless of where they actually live. Perhaps they think it equivalent to the Taiwan team (Chinese Taipei) that gets to play in the tourney alongside mainland China.

Yet I can't help but think of a more practical way to let ballplayers such as Aroldis Chapman (of the Cincinnati Reds) or Yoenis Cespedes (of the Oakland Athletics) to participate.

Why not let them play for other countries already in the tourney?

As things now work, these ballplayers don't defect directly to the United States. If they did, they wound wind up being declared resident aliens, which would then let Major League Baseball treat them as they do U.S. citizens -- subject to the baseball draft and only able to negotiate with the clubs that pick them.

THEY USUALLY PICK another Latin American country, establish some sort of residency there, then get treated as free agents up for grabs to which ever U.S. ball club is the highest bidder.

Somebody becomes an honorary Dominican in order to get a chance to play professional baseball in the U.S.? Let the Dominican Republic's national team include him -- if he's good enough to make it.

The same goes for any other country that winds up providing the legal cover for these Cubans to get around the U.S. trade embargo (and the Castro regime).

Or if that sounds too complex, treat them as honorary U.S. residents. Since being here is their ultimate goal, let them have a chance to play for the U.S. national team.

WHICH PERHAPS NEEDS a jolt of Cubaño flash to help it advance beyond the preliminary rounds and actually have a chance of topping Japan -- which has managed to win every version of the World Baseball Classic ever played!

Not only would it give Team U.S.A. a talent boost, just think of the propaganda boost that could also be achieved.

The thought of Fidel Castro watching his big-screen television and seeing his beloved Equipo Cuba (which likes to think it is the best baseball program on Planet Earth) get smacked around by a U.S.-squad bolstered with Cuban talent?

The very thought might be what causes Fidel to finally drop dead -- rather than all those goofy assassination attempts of old.

-30-


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