Pay Castro Inc “un honorario de 20%” and you can play overseas!

According to Maria C. Werlau, “Fidel Castro Inc” is one big conglomerate for a guy who is made a career pretending to be a socialist.   The family business is big enough for Fidel and Raul to make the list of some of the richest people in the planet.

Again, not bad for a couple of brothers who are cheered around the world as “revolutionaries”!

The latest money making scheme for Castro Inc is to send Cuban athletes overseas.   Castro Inc never passes up the opportunity to make a “peso”!

As you may remember, professional sports were outlawed in Cuba in 1961.   That was then, or the days of the Soviet subsidy and when the regime spent all of the stolen property from Cubans and foreign interests.

This is now, or the reality that Cuba desperately needs hard currency and no one is lining up to lend the regime any money.  Why would you lend money to an enterprise that defaults often?

To say the least, Cubans in the major leagues are doing quite well, from Puig in LA, to Cespedes in Oakland to Fernandez in Miami.    The latest name is Jose Abreu, a first baseman with power who is shopping for a major league contract.

However, these four men do not “share” their income with Castro Inc.  They are professional athletes who had the freedom to negotiate contracts.

They are “defectors” or players who established residency in another country and became free agents.  They are eligible to sign with any organization, as the aforementioned Abreu who will be playing somewhere next year.

That’s the way it should be until there is regime change in Cuba!

A few weeks ago, Castro Inc made a change and announced that Cuban athletes could play overseas.

Alfredo Despaigne is the first “test case” for Castro Inc.  The arrangement is that the regime keeps 20% of the salary.  He played in Mexico this year and hit well.  At the same time, let’s remember that the Mexican summer league is a low version of AAA baseball.  It’s not unusual for a good Cuban player to hit .338 against the quality of pitching in that league.

Let’s not forget also that Cuban players know that the best baseball is played in the majors.  This is where they want to play and that is why they defect!

Major League baseball, and the US government, should take a tough position against Castro Inc. when it comes to these ballplayers.

Castro Inc wants to “rent” the players and create another source of income for the family business.

I believe that Commissioner Selig should make it clear that MLB is not going to play this game.

The players should be free to sign their own deals and negotiate directly with a team.  They should not be forced to share their income with Castro Inc.

The players’ union should oppose that arrangement too.

Last, but not least, there is also the issue of “the embargo” and money flow between the island and the US.

Let’s fill the majors with Cuban players.   However, let them be “FREE” Cuban players not “servants” of Castro Inc.


Lost Son of Havana – New Documentary on Red Sox Great Luis Tiant

When I was a young kid, I used to love watching Luis Tiant pitch. While my team back in the 1970’s was the Pittsburgh Pirates (due to Roberto Clemente, my 1st baseball hero, Willie Stargell), my other team was the Red Sox, because of this one guy, Luis Tiant. I used to love this guy – no pitching style comes close to him.

Apparently they have a new film out on him and his career and his return to his birthplace, Havana. Interesting review in the Globe:

The film follows the aging Tiant on his 2007 trip to his native Cuba. It’s no weekend jaunt. In 1961, the Castro government had delivered an ultimatum to the phenom: If you go to the States to play baseball, you can’t come back home. Tiant, encouraged by his parents, chose the major leagues. He tried several times to return for visits, but it took 46 years to finally get permission.

The tale of Tiant’s exile starts with his father, Luis Sr., a Negro League pitcher from the 1920s to ’40s who returns to Cuba to a decidedly inglorious life. He pumps gas and starts drinking too much. Is it any wonder he urges his son to sign with the Cleveland Indians?

By the time the younger Tiant finally returns to Havana, his parents are long gone, the streets look unfamiliar, and the people live in abject poverty. Tiant is known for hamming it up in interviews, for playing the jester with his thick accent. Here, Hock wisely trains his lens on Tiant’s eyes. You can feel the melancholy as he trudges from door to door, desperately trying to find his relatives. When he finally locates his aunts, who are failing physically, Tiant embraces them and doesn’t seem to want to let go.

And talk eventually turns to the reality. In a back room, after being told of how miserable everyone is, Tiant starts peeling bills off his bankroll. It’s a bittersweet homecoming.

I have no clue when this will be shown here, but I’d like to see it.

Read the review here.

I found a trailer for the film on You Tube

UPDATE: I looked further and Cardinal is right that ESPN bought the broadcast rights to this film. In this article, there’s an interesting take on the film not mentioned in the Globe article:

The film was directed by award-winning director Jonathan Hock, who told New York’s Daily News that Tiant seemed particularly struck by the country’s poverty.

“[Luis] kept saying, ‘It used to be so beautiful, it used to be so beautiful,’” says Hock of Tiant’s reaction, “and the other thing he kept saying was, ‘I don’t know how to feel, whether I should laugh or cry.’”

So much for your egalitarian paradise.