We remember Chico Ruiz (1934-72)

Chico Ruiz stealing home 1964 against Phillies
Chico Ruiz stealing home 1964 against Phillies

We remember today one of the most interesting Cuban major leaguers.   He was not a super star but was involved in one of the most talked about plays ever.

Giraldo (Sablon) Ruiz was born in Santo Domingo, Cuba on this day in 1934.   He died in early 1972 in an automobile accident.

Chico Ruiz broke with the Reds in 1964.    He hit .240 over 8 seasons with Reds and later the Angels.   His numbers, and limited time, has to be understood in the context of playing behind fellow Cuban Leo Cardenas with the Reds and later Jim Fregosi with the Angels.

He is well known for stealing home in the middle of the 1964 National League pennant race.     This is the story:

Despite not being known as a big-time base stealer (he was only 34 for 50 in his career), Chico managed to steal one of the most improbable bases in the history of the sport. This occurred during a game on September 24, 1964, against the Philadelphia Phillies. After a one-out single, Ruiz found himself on third base with two outs. There were also two strikes on the batter — none other than five-time All-Star and former (and future) Most Valuable Player Frank Robinson.

Somehow, in Chico Ruiz’s mind, it made sense to try to steal home at this very moment. Remember, there were TWO strikes on Robinson, one of the most feared hitters in the game, so not only was the opposition concerned that big Frank could change the game with one swing, Chico had to have been concerned for his well-being. If Chico got a good jump and Frank swung at a pitch not knowing he was coming, Chico would have been in great danger. If Robinson swung and struck Ruiz with a line drive, not only would Chico have likely been injured, but he may also have been called out depending on whether he was within the base line. Finally, if Ruiz was thrown out trying to steal home with Robinson at the plate, the play may have gone down as one the biggest boneheaded plays the game has ever seen. An infield single would have scored Ruiz; so would a wild pitch.

It was the fact that Ruiz was successful that made this play so memorable. Phillies pitcher Art Mahaffey saw the runner breaking for home and hurried his delivery. That resulted in a pitch that could not be handled by his catcher and an easy run for the Reds. The run happened to be the only one of the game, as the Reds defeated the Phillies, 1-0, the first of ten straight losses by the (then) first-place Phillies.

And so it was “The day Chico Ruiz stole home” with Frank Robinson at the plate.

Dr. Stein “esta bien loca”

Dr. Stein had a bad November, and now comes December. Maybe she is performing in a one-woman “delusional melodrama“.  Better than that, maybe a truck needs to pick the wreck before it gets more embarrassing.

She made an amazingly stupid statement about Fidel Castro’s death:

Fidel Castro was a symbol of the struggle for justice in the shadow of empire.
Presente!

“Presente” for what?   Can someone remind Dr. Stein that the crowds that scream “presente” in Cuba are people who have to choose between showing up at the rally or job promotions?

Are you awake, Dr. Stein?  Do you know anything about Cuba?

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Cuba’s future and President Trump

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(My new American Thinker post)

Not since President Kennedy has a U.S. president been in such a position to have an impact on Cuba.

Of course, President Kennedy fumbled on the Bay of Pigs. He followed that with a better performance in the Missile Crisis but did not force the USSR to take Castro out along with the missiles.

After that, it really came down to waiting for Castro to die or to get overthrown. The U.S. was not going to invade a Soviet satellite and Castro used MiGs and tanks to put down the Escambray rebellion of the late 1960s. (By the way, my friend Enrique G. Encinosa wrote about this war in exquisite detail. The translation of the title is The Forgotten War, the uprising against Castro that was brutally crushed town by town. It was horrific and someone should be charged with war crimes against civilians.)

President Trump has two choices: he can continue the Obama bailout of Cuba or literally pull the plug.

First, Cuba is a disaster that no reform can fix. Spyridon Mitsotakis called it just right in a post recently:

In March of 2014, I spent two weeks in working-class areas of Cuba. I went as a visitor, but was not a tourist. I wanted to see communism for myself — and it was all I feared it to be.

About a year later, with Obama administration’s embrace of the Castro brothers, I wrote at Brietbart.com about a Cuban worker who explained to me that while they hear endlessly from the government about the “American embargo against Cuba,” the real problem is the “internal embargo” — the embargo that the government elite has imposed on the Cuban people to keep them from participating in the economies of the elite and the outside world.

Again, there is no reform for Cuba except throwing away the entire system and starting again.

My guess is that Raul Castro knows that Cuba is beyond reforms. At the same time, he was willing to go along as long as President Obama participated in a bailout of his regime. Why not the foolish “Yanki” bail you out if you can get away with it?

President Trump should take a different course:

1) Cancel the executive orders and stop everything started under President Obama. He has a pen and Congress is not going to lift the embargo; and,

2) Continue to speak loudly on behalf of the Cuban people. He could even wear a baseball cap that goes like this: “Cuba si, Castro no”. He could go further and call on Major League Baseball to play an All Star Game in Cuba as soon as Castro is gone.

My guess is that Raul Castro will quickly get the message that it’s over. There is no one ready to bail him out anymore. Venezuelan oil can’t. China or Russia won’t do it unless they are given the keys to the island. Latin America talks a lot but they have their own problems.

Let Raul Castro take his millions and move somewhere else, maybe Bolivia. President Trump then sits down with the next tier of leadership and demands free elections in exchange for ending the embargo. I think that they will listen because they all know that Cuba is a mess beyond repair.

Could it happen that quickly? Yes it can, and no one knows that better than Raul Castro.

In the summer of 1958, the U.S. cut off military assistance to then President Batista. It signaled that it was over and he left months later. It cut the ground from under Batista and created the opening for Fidel Castro to come in.

In early 2017, President Trump could do his own version of that Batista play. He could promise the new Cuban leadership a deal subject to Castro leaving and elections forthcoming.

Am I too optimistic? I don’t think so, and President Trump is in a position to do it. Pull the plug, Mr. Trump and you will be given a hero’s welcome in Cuba.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Down goes Colin: A tackle in the Miami-San Francisco game

(My new American Thinker post)

The saga of Colin Kaepernick continues.

On the field, he stinks. His 49ers are a disaster and I saw a lot of empty seats in a recent game in San Francisco.

A couple of years ago, he was a young quarterback with quite a future. Today, he looks like a guy who needs a change of scenery and total mental tuneup.

Off the field, Colin Kaepernick is even worse. He continues to speak and speak and make a total fool out of himself.

His remarks about Fidel Castro are no better than what PM Trudeau of Canada and Dr. Jill Stein said of the dictator’s death. This is a bit of Colin on Castro:

“I agree with the investment in education,” Kaepernick said. “I also agree with the investment in free universal health care, as well as the involvement with him in helping end apartheid in South Africa. I would hope that everyone believes those things are good things. Trying to push the false narrative that I was a supporter of the oppressive things that he did is just not true.”

Memo to Colin: Cubans do not get to read what books they read in school. In other words, history class in Cuba’s schools represents the state’s views. And the health care system is so good that Castro brought in Spanish doctors to care for him.

The Colin story did have a happy turn in Miami last Sunday, as we read in the Miami Herald:

Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso gave the fans in Miami what they wanted Sunday, picking off Colin Kaepernick and making a jarring tackle on the 49ers’ quarterback that preserved a 31-24 Dolphins win.

After the game, Alonso, the son of a Cuban immigrant, acknowledged that Kaepernick had caused “bad blood” with comments the San Francisco player had made about Fidel Castro.

“Yeah, it matters,” Alonso said Sunday of Kaepernick’s words about Castro, which were made shortly before the former Cuban leader died Friday. The quarterback had appeared reluctant to condemn Castro and offered praise for his efforts in boosting Cuba’s “literacy rate.”

“Usually, I just try to play my game. But I did try to hit him,” Alonso told the Herald’s Armando Salguero, who was the reporter who grilled Kaepernick about Castro last week. Salguero, like Alonso’s father, was born in Cuba and emigrated to the United States.

With that father, Carlos Alonso, on hand after the game, the linebacker told Salguero, “You two saw what happened in Cuba firsthand. I didn’t. But I do have feelings about it.

“So there was some bad blood there for me with Kaepernick.”

“Muy bueno” Kiko. You did good!

When will the 49ers ownership show some backbone and release him? Colin is hurting the NFL brand and the team. Pro athletes always get in trouble when their political opinions make more headlines than their TD passes!

Better than that, why doesn’t Colin move to Cuba and offer his services to Raul Castro? Cuba has always needed Western fools to carry their water.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

The great “Miñoso” was born in 1925

minnie-minoso

Saturnino Orestes Armas (Arrieta) Miñoso was born in El Perico, Cuba, a town near La Habana, on this day in 1925.   He learned to play ball in the sugar cane fields.

Orestes made his debut in 1948 with Cleveland but became a regular in 1951 with the Chicago White Sox.   From 1951 to 1961, “The Cuban comet”, as he was known, was one of the most consisent hitters in the American League.   He led the AL in triples 3 times, once in hits, and 4 times in stolen bases.

Overall, he retired with a .298 career batting average and 1, 963 hits.   His average dropped under .300 because of his last 3 years when he was no longer the same hitter.

The great “Miñoso” died in 2015 and remains one of the most popular players in White Sox history.

Cubans in the street and Raul fears a “Ceausescu moment”

ceaucescu

We  read via Babalu that Cuban secret police detained Danilo Maldonado, i.e. El Sexto.   His mother told the Diario de Cuba that her son had taken to the streets late Friday to celebrate the death of dictator Fidel Castro.

My guess is that he is not alone. There are probably other young people in the street celebrating Fidel Castro’s death.

The quiet street is primarily due to the nine-day state of mourning announced by the dictatorship.   I just heard a radio report that Cubans are not sure how to react.

At the same time, I don’t think that Raul Castro wants people in the streets.   I’m sure that dictators have good memories.   Every dictator in the world remembers how people in the street and food shortages ended up overthrowing Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania.

Cuba is now entering a very dangerous and interesting period.

Raul Castro could go rogue and look for an exit in exchange for lifting the embargo.   He could also get harsh and clamp down out of fear.

Time will tell but dangerous months are coming.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Fidel Castro and the left that always carried his bags

chavez-fidel-evo

As my late father often said, it was really tough to run into so many people who did not understand the truth of Cuba and Castro.

Over the years, Fidel Castro always found someone to pull him out of the hole.

He benefited from international leftists who hated the U.S. so much that they were willing to believe every lie coming out of Cuba, from health care to education.  Not one of these lefties took the time to do a little research and learn that pre-Castro had an excellent private and public health care system.  And Cuba’s literacy rates were among the highest in the Third World.

This was Cuba before Castro’s policies destroyed it:

In the 1950’s Cuba was, socially and economically, a relatively advanced country, certainly by Latin American standards and, in some areas, by world standards.

Cuba’s infant mortality rate was the best in Latin America — and the 13th lowest in the world.

Cuba also had an excellent educational system and impressive literacy rates in the 1950’s.

Pre-Castro Cuba ranked third in Latin America in per capita food consumption.

Cuba ranked first in Latin America and fifth in the world in television sets per capita.

Pre-Castro Cuba had 58 daily newspapers of differing political hues and ranked eighth in the world in number of radio stations.

Cuba’s infant mortality rate of 32 per 1,000 live births in 1957 was the lowest in Latin America and the 13th lowest in the world, according to UN data. Cuba ranked ahead of France, Belgium, West Germany, Japan, Austria, Italy, and Spain.

In 1955, life expectancy in Cuba was among the highest at 63 years of age; compared to 52 in other Latin American countries, 43 in Asia, and 37 in Africa.

In terms of physicians and dentists per capita, Cuba in 1957 ranked third in Latin America, behind only Uruguay and Argentina — both of which were more advanced than the United States in this measure. Cuba’s 128 physicians and dentists per 100,000 people in 1957 was the same as the Netherlands, and ahead of the United Kingdom (122 per 100,000 people) and Finland.

Cuba has been among the most literate countries in Latin America since well before the Castro revolution, when it ranked fourth.

To be fair, Cuba had problems, and it was people like my parents who turned against Batista.  However, poverty, misery, and people leaving in rafts were not among them.

Well, it’s over for Fidel Castro.  Maybe we can finally tell the truth about this man and what he did to Cuba and its people.
P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

A very hot place awaits Fidel

Image result for fidel castro cartoons

(My new American Thinker post)

In the end, he died like most people do – i.e., old age.  No CIA assassination.  No overthrow.  Just an old man probably connected to a bunch of machines staying alive.

For most of us Cubans, and the ones who grew up here like me, this is a moment when images fly in your head.

First, I recall the morning Batista fled and the expectations.  My mother serving us breakfast and my father on the phone talking about the future of Cuba.  The phone did not stop ringing.  My mother kept bringing my father coffee and offering her opinions as well.  The TV was on with constant reports of Cuba.  The Voice of America in Spanish on my father’s short wave radio.

Most importantly, no one that morning had a clue of what would happen to Cuba in a few years.

Second, the Bay of Pigs and the Missile Crisis.  As my mother would joke later: “¡Nosotros los primeros!”  Or loosely translated, we would have been the first ones to go if the missiles were fired.  Thankfully, the missiles were not fired, and my mother’s words did not come to pass.

Third, I will always remember the day we left and the look on my mother’s face when the plane took off.

Most of all, we remember how he destroyed Cuba.  He came to power when Cuba was a very prosperous island with a growing middle class.  It is not that country anymore, as Tim Worstall wrote:

Fidel Castro, the Communist Dictator of Cuba, has died at the age of 90. There have been those, over the decades, who have held him up as some paragon of a new world order, one in which people will not be subservient to either America nor capitalism. The truth is that he visited an economic disaster upon the island nation of Cuba. No, it was not the US, it was not any blockade or embargo, not anything external to Cuba that caused this, it was quite simply the idiocy of the economic policy followed, that socialism, which led to there being near no economic growth at all over the 55 years or so of his rule. What little that did occur happening when the strictest of his rules were relaxed.

It is polite, human and common to withhold criticism of the dead in the immediate aftermath of their demise. But leaving 11 million people grossly poorer than they ought to be in the name of a bankrupt ideology is not the stuff of which hagiographic obituaries are made

He promised elections but kept delaying them.  They never happened.

He denied that he was communist and locked up people like my dad’s cousin for publicly saying so.  A bit later, he declared himself a communist but did not release those who called him one.

In the end, he leaves a poor island with very little hope.  He leaves political prisons, families crushed, and empty store shelves.

What happens now?  This is a great opportunity for President-Elect Trump to demand some real concessions from the island’s leadership.

Fidel’s death is really the end of communism in Cuba.  Raúl is also an old man and probably won’t be around in a few years, either.

Cuba is screaming for change.  Let’s hear it and demand real concessions from Raúl Castro.

And please don’t insult the memory of so many by sending a big delegation to his funeral.  Stay away and show your respect for the thousands executed by this regime.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Obama greeted by “Yankee go home” signs in Peru and Greece

President Obama was in Greece and Peru a few days ago. He did not get a friendly welcome from the street according to many news reports:

In Lima, Peru for the APEC summit, hundreds of angry protesters greeted his arrival, demonstrating against him and TPP in the city’s financial district. Clashes with police erupted.

One sign said Salga de Obama, La Bestia Capitalista (Get Out Obama, The Capitalist Beast). Another displaying a skull and crossbones said EL TPP MATA (TPP kills).

According to Socialist Left alliance leader Martin Guerra, it “destroys the country’s economy, diminishes labor rights, privatize territories and hinders access to basic medical care.”

I guess that the Cairo speech, “hope and change” and “si se puede” did nothing for these demonstrations. They hate us just as much as they did when a pro-life cowboy from Texas was traveling on Air Force One.

To be fair to President Obama, these marches have been around for a long time, from VP Nixon in Caracas 1958 to President Reagan accused of starting a war by nuclear freeze nuts in 1983 to President Bush hailed as Hitler in 2003.

So what’s new? Well, it was not supposed to happen with Mr. Obama. We never had a president who ran to be popular and loved around the world.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Turkey of the year: Who else but the media?

(My new American Thinker post)

We always have a little fun this time of the year and hand out some turkey awards. Frankly, I feel bad for the poor turkey who never ran to be the dish of choice for Thanksgiving or the symbol of these awards.

So with all due respect to the turkey, let me say that there is a clear-cut winner in 2016. In fact, I can’t recall the last time that anyone ran away with the award like this.

My “turkey of the year” is the media.

First, they gave Trump a billion dollars of free media. I guess that Trump was good for ratings because they chased him like a bunch of girls chasing Elvis in his prime. They went everywhere that Trump went and ate out of his hand no matter what he fed them.

Second, they went out of their way to destroy Trump, from 24/7 negative coverage at CNN to the New York Timesdetermining that it was their duty to protect us from his presidency.

In the end, Trump shocked them with a victory that not a single expert at these outlets saw coming. Now, he is playing them like a violin with daily speculation about his appointments.

Remember the old commercial? Bo knows baseball? Trump knows media!

A few weeks ago, Gallup made it all official: Nobody likes the media anymore. Worse than that, nobody believes them, as we see from this recent survey:

 Americans’ trust and confidence in the mass media “to report the news fully, accurately and fairly” has dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history, with 32% saying they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media.

This is down eight percentage points from last year.

One of three Americans believes that the media will call it accurately!

How long would a car maker survive if only one of three Americans had faith in their cars? Or what airline could stay a business with a reputation like that? Or who would buy a ticket to a baseball game if only one of three thought that the umpire was being honest behind the plate?

So the media is our “turkey of the year”. No doubt about it. They are off to a great start to win the award next year!

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.