Cuban Baseball Team Returns Home From Mexico with Half its Players and Without a Medal
Baseball player Geisel Cepeda, 23, was the last to leave the Cuban team at the U-23 World Cup in Sonora, Mexico. The athlete abandoned his teammates when they were going to return to the island and did not get on the plane, thus also leaving the contract he had with the Mochis, in Mexico, to seek a contract in the US Major Leagues.
The news, confirmed this Sunday by sports journalist Francys Romero, ends the list of escapes among the members of the youth team, which totals 12, 50% of the 24 who traveled to Mexico to try to win the title.
Just one day earlier, this Saturday, Loidel Chapellí Jr., 19, Yandi Yanes, 23, Bryan Chi, 22, and Miguel Antonio González, 21, had all left the team. The list is completed by the pitchers Yeinel Zayas, Luis Dennys Morales, Uber Mejías, Dariel Fernández, receiver Loidel Rodríguez, outfielder Reinaldo Lazaga and infielder Diasmany Palacios.
Cuba’s official press described the walk-offs of the players as “vile abandonments” and blamed the United States for the desertions due to the rupture, in 2017, of the agreement reached between the Major Leagues and the Cuban Baseball Federation by which the Island promised to “free” the players hired by a team from the neighboring country provided they met various conditions of age and years of service, in exchange for the payment of an economic bonus that had to go to the Cuban authorities.
The press has also attributed the escapes to the weakness of the players. “The merchants of baseball players went in search of promising talents and achieved their objective,” taking advantage of “the provisions of the United States Government towards Cuba and its athletes (closed doors) and also the moral and ethical weaknesses of those who left the team.”
The roster had been chosen, according to the coach himself, Eriel Sánchez, by the national baseball authorities from a list preselected by him. The manager had clearly said what was an open secret, that qualities external to sports were valued when choosing the final representatives, and these qualities included patriotism, understood as one might suppose, to mean fidelity to the ’Revolution’.
However, the ideological selection mechanism has not worked, judging by the results.
Cuba’s National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (Inder) has spoken out in this regard and insisted on the same ideas as the official press, ensuring that the players’ departure “confirms the cynicism with which the Trump Administration annulled the agreement,”,which is a” cruel handicap that prevents the natural flow to the circuits of that organization.”
Sportscaster Pavel Otero said on Cuban television that the team faces “one of the most hostile scenarios in the history of our sports movement.”
“Do not doubt that those unscrupulous human traffickers, at the service of the enemies of the Revolution, will continue to insist,” he said.
The Venezuelan team won the tournament this Sunday by beating the host, Mexico, 4-0. Cuba, which lands in Havana this Monday at 5 am, was in 4th position after falling to Colombia.