Friday, November 03, 2006

The Cubans are Coming

On Tuesday, a grand jury in Miami indicted a baseball agent on charges of smuggling Cuban ballplayers into the United States. The indictment alleges that Gus Domiguez brought more than forty defectors across over a series of trips in a 28-foot speedboat. While some of them were not ballplayers, several of the individuals identified have already gone on to play in the minor leagues.

The ballplayers, like all Cubans, are subject to restrictive emigration policies that keeps them from pursuing career opportunities in the United States. The declining health of Cuban President Fidel Castro has led to speculation that this situation could soon be changing. The end of the U.S. trade embargo and the normalization of relations between the two countries could let loose a flood of Cuban baseball players eager to showcase their skills in the major leagues.

If the results of this spring's World Baseball Classic are any indication, there are some great ballplayers in Cuba who would be Major League stars if they were allowed to emigrate.

In the last decade, there has been a nostalgic resurgence of interest in the Negro Leagues, and an acknowledgment that for several decades, some great ballplayers were kept out of the Major Leagues because of their skin color. It's time, though, to also acknowledge that several generations of Cuban players have suffered the same fate.