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Play Ball!–With Communist Cuba

January 1, 2019

Chicago Attorney, Joe Morris, has once again posted an important notice. This time he comments on how Major League Baseball betrayed Cuba’s anti-Castro baseball professionals:

 On December 19, 2018, Major League Baseball (the organization of the owners of the major baseball leagues, headed by Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr.) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (the professional baseball players’ union, led by its Executive Director, Tony Clark) announced that they have reached an agreement with the Cuban government (through its front, the Cuban Baseball Federation (“FCB”)), under which major league baseball teams will be permitted to hire Cuban baseball players provided (1) the players’ salaries, or substantial parts of them, are paid to the Cuban government, and (2)  any people who defect from Cuba will be prohibited from playing professional baseball for the U.S. major leagues.

Make no mistake:  Although the Cuban partner of MLB and the union is named as the FCB, the FCB is a wholly-owned subisidiary of the Castroite communist government of the island prison.

In a particularly smarmy ploy, in announcing their deal with the Cuban dictatorship, the baseball owners and union claimed that they entered into it to “end the dangerous trafficking of Cuban players who desire to play professional baseball in the United States” — that is, to take away an incentive to defect.  (If talented Cubans, skilled at playing baseball, are prevented by the owners and the union from being paid to play baseball in America, they will have one fewer reason to leave the island.  Actually, the reasons to leave the massive Cuban gulag will remain;  but the baseball owners and union will have conspired with the regime in Havana to ensure that defectors who make it to America will be consigned to wash dishes for a living rather than to compete for professional baseball players’ wages.)

The announcement quotes José Abreu, a Cuban-born first baseman for the Chicago White Sox, praising the owners and the union for doing the deal.  Abreu defected to the Dominican Republic in August 2013 and soon made his way to American baseball as a free agent.  His parents defected to the United States in 2014, and have lived here safely since, but Abreu still has other relatives in Cuba.  The desperation with which Abreu is quoted as thanking the owners and the union for ending the scourge of people aiding defectors from Cuba suggests that Castroite guns are pointed at his family members’ heads.  The exploitation by the owners and the union of Abreu is shameful.

MLB and the players association issued a joint news release.  You will find it attached as a pdf file.  The news release promises that “a detailed summary of the key provisions of the agreement is attached” but, in fact, it was not attached, nor was the “detailed summary” published on either the MLB or the MLBPA websites.

Instead, both MLB and the players’ association posted edited versions of the joint news release on their respective websites.  The owners’ version of the announcement was the more weasely;  its sanitized version omitted the disclosure that a baseball team hiring a Cuban player must pay a “release fee” directly to the dictatorship of 15% to 20% of the total value of the player’s contract, plus 25% of his signing bonus.  One has to read the Union’s version of the announcement to get those details.

Nothing in the announcement suggests that the baseball teams or the union will do anything to ensure that Cuban players are not forced to fork over all their salaries to the regime;  nor do they announce any terms that will guarantee that Cuban players are permitted to have their families accompany him out of Cuba and stay with them in the United States.   The owners, with their disdain of “trafficking”  — their euphemism for helping Cubans escape the prison island — will look the other way as the Cuban government holds their players’ families hostage to force their return to the island and to ensure that they remit their earnings to the regime.

The Havana regime, long ago having lost the sponsorship of the Soviet Union when it went belly up, and more recently having lost subsidies from the oil-rich but increasingly impoverished socialist Venezuela, is short on hard currency.  American baseball owners have apparently volunteered to fill some of the void left by Soviet and Chavezista tyrants.

The economic benefits to the major league owners are clear:  No longer will they have to deal with pesky agents, be asked to reimburse Cuban players and those who helped them for the expenses of defection, or otherwise have to put up with Cubans enjoying the experience of the free market.

Note, too, the reduced options for Cuban baseball players when their American owners get tired of them:  No choice to stay in America as free people and make their livings as coaches, accountants, bus drivers, hospital orderlies, late-night comedians, or dish-washers;  injured and superannuated Cuban slaves must be delivered straight back to the plantation, er, to Cuba.

Now the owners can simply cut their deals with the FCB, which will have a monopoly on the Cuban professional baseball workforce in the American market:  One-stop shopping, in short, for MLB slaves from Cuba.

Mary Anastasia O’Grady, the columnist for The Wall Street Journal who monitors Latin American affairs closely, blew the whistle today in her column on the malign and degrading scam into which the major league owners and the union have descended.  You will find her column linked and set forth below.  Below it I have linked and set forth the full texts of the announcements as posted on the MLB and union websites.

I expect better from baseball people.

Perhaps one should be grateful that Minnie Minoso did not live to see the MLB owners and union undertake this gross betrayal of American ideals and this thumb-in-the-eye to the sacrifices made by generations of Cuban defectors and their families


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