by Roberto Ramírez
As often happens at other events, the presence of the Cuban national baseball team in the XVII Pan Am Games leads fans and colleagues who are unaware of our reality to ask why its stars do not play in U.S. Major League Baseball (MLB).
And the question holds a certain logic since everyone sees the majors as the mecca of the sport, and the very media that promote the signing of multi-million dollar contracts as the realization of the so-called American dream do not talk about the reality that makes things so incredibly different for Cuba.
Alluding to measures that would force him to abandon his country as a prerequisite for fulfilling his aspiration to play in the majors, a member of the Cuban team said, “I and many of my teammates would like to prove ourselves at that level providing there was a way to do it legally.”
Whoever doubts that should know that the relevant provision states that as a result of a supposed “flexibilization” with respect to the Cubans, they “only have to sign a statement confirming that they have taken up permanent residence outside of the island.”
It would be like Lionel Messi having to renounce Argentina in order to remain with the Barcelona Soccer Club, or David Ortiz having to cut his ties with the Dominican Republic so he could continue to shine in the U.S. Major League.
The regulations issued in February as agents were harassing the team that ended up winning the Caribbean Series put it in black and white. “The Cuban players will no longer have to ask for the official permission of the United States government to sign contracts with the [MLB].”
But, and here comes the most brazen part, it established as a requirement a “declaration of permanent residence outside of Cuba” in which one has to also state, “I do not intend to return to Cuba; nor will I be allowed to return.”
What could be clearer than that. As a result of the blockade in force for more than half a century when it comes to Cuban sport, the contracts are closed for its baseball players in the very country that gets up in arms about all kinds of scandals when they take the wrong road.
And for that to happen, millions of dollars bankroll the activities of mercenaries like those who hung around the regional meet in San Juan or the recent stay of the Cuban team on U.S. soil where the level of harassment reached unbelievable levels.
From characters carrying around suitcases of money and putting them in the athletes’ face to using prostitutes to ensnare them, to ex-teammates to incite them to follow in their footsteps to desert, without caring a hoot about their commitments.
All this is happening at a time when different continental leagues find themselves obliged to go along with this treatment that has been approved for the MLB, given their links with that entity, even though they don’t have the rankings the Cubans do.
To sum up: The same MLB that still has not paid the more than two million dollars it has owed Cuba since the World Baseball Classic or provided Cuba its awards from the Caribbean Series welcomes with open arms whoever falls prey to the temptations that accompany its unethical behaviour.
It is true that the organization is subject to U.S. laws and has professional managers who wish for another reality, but [the law] leaves them in a very bad position ethically, because the “competition” is totally unfair.
That is why those who refuse to renounce their own people are not playing in the Major Leagues. Even though it may be something they aspire to in terms of their sport and economically, it goes against all decency and moral standing.
Source: Cuba Pan Am 2015