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MLB & Cuban Baseball Federation: So Close & Yet So Far

Bronx, NY: The 2018 baseball season counted with 25 Cuban baseball players on their rosters. That’s quite an impressive number from a country that we have no formal relations with and who are under a US trade blockade. For example, Puerto Ricans who are US citizens had 28 players born on the island playing in the 2018 season.

Omar Linares is considered one of the best ever Cuban baseball players. (Photo courtesy Federación Cubana de Beísbol)

So imagine, if Cuban players who are playing in the US all had to leave Cuba illegally, defect and in many cases turn to human traffickers to get here, what would happen if Cuban players would be able to freely come here and play without having to defect? If that was the case and we would have had a chance to see Cuban players like, Omar (El Niño) Linares who is considered by many as one of the best ever Cuban players who started for the Cuban National Team at the age of 17. Through 20 seasons of Cuban Baseball playing for Pinar Del Rio (1980’s & 1990’s) Linares batted .368 BA with 1547 RBI’s and was a human vacuum cleaner at third base.

Another Cuban player Armando Pacheco, second baseman for Santiago de Cuba had a career batting average of .334 in 22 seasons and is 1st in Cuban baseball with 2356 hits and 3rd with 1304 RBI’s. I had the pleasure of watching both these players in their prime and would have loved to see them play in the big leagues here.

Yesterday MLB and the Players Association announced an agreement with the Cuban Baseball Federation to legalize and streamline the opportunity for Cuban baseball players to play in the US and Canada. Though this can be seen as a great leap forward for all of baseball, unfortunately, the Trump administration immediately attacked the deal, basically threatening to not allow the deal even before it could be put in place.

I and many baseball fans look forward to seeing such a deal take place where Cuban players can come to this country to play just as Dominican, Japanese, Venezuelan, Columbian and players from all other countries. Baseball should not be hindered by politics. On the contrary, baseball has been a great sport to unite countries as is seen every other year in the World Baseball Classic.

Read more: NYTIMES

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