Domingo, 23 de Octubre de 2016
22:35 CEST.

Will the Major Leagues close deals with the mafia behind Cuban baseball?

I hope I'm not a victim of some prejudice that clouds my understanding, but I cannot fathom the need for Major League Baseball (MLB) executives to sit down and negotiate all the time with Cuban officials, who function like overseers over slaves through their monopoly on baseball in Cuba. Wasn't it supposed to be that after March 16, thanks to another of President Obama's anti-embargo measures, all Cubans living on the island - baseball players included, of course - could work in the US and collect wages directly from American companies if hired by them?

If that is the case, then there is nothing to discuss. All the regime has to do is finally grant our players their freedom, so they can go play in the US, return home as often as they wish and, above all, negotiate directly (personally or with the mediators of their choice) with the MLB, like athletes from any other country.

We already had enough upon reading the cynical statements by Higinio Vélez, president of the Cuban Baseball Federation, when he announced that "their" players were ready to join the Majors, impudently placing them on sale, maneuvering to charge for letting them fly out of the airport "with their heads held high." His shamelessness knows no bounds, his words coming from someone that fans on the island recognize as the deputy of a mafia that, under the orders of Antonio Castro, ruined our national sport and now, to top it off, intends to line his pockets at its expense.

In any case, nothing should surprise us when it comes to the Castros’ cadre and their shenanigans. What I cannot make any sense of is why MLB execs would pander to that mafia, legitimising it by negotiating with them, and approving of and even repeating in public its scheming arguments.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke a few days ago about the need to establish a more secure path so that Cuban baseball players who want to play in the Majors do not have to abandon the island. But is there any more secure route than that already provided for by Obama's recent measure?

"I hope that very soon," Manfred said, "a change comes about in the relationship between the US and Cuba that allows Cuban players to come here and freely return to the island." Thus stated, his desire does seem to be absolutely unquestionable. The strange thing would be something that now lends itself to being read between the lines: the possibility that this alleged desire to seek a secure way for Cuban baseball players to play in the MLB is being worked out through negotiations between it and Antonio Castro's mafia – even more so given the circumstances existing as of March 16, the ball since then being exclusively in the regime's court.

Or could it be that the real interest of MLB executives is not ensuring our players' security, but rather obtaining direct and unfettered access to the island's top players, without caring that the money they pay for their contracts is going to end up in the pockets of the mafia in question?