Since Game 1 of the 1918 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs, America’s national anthem plays before every Major League Baseball home game.
A game that once previously awarded spectacular player talent from Cuba to enter the United States safely and legally is now subsequently grounding into a 6-4-3 double play.
On April 8, the Trump administration ended a deal previously negotiated by the Obama administration that once allowed Cuban players a shot at becoming a superstar in the U.S. without having to defect from their country.
According to the Trump administration, the deal constitutes a violation of trade laws with Cuba, as payments to players are now being labeled as “payments” to the Cuban government.
Back in December, MLB and the MLB Players Association came to an agreement with the Cuban federation with intentions to end defection of Cuban-born baseball players and minimalize human trafficking of Cuban players prior to joining MLB. Baseball’s ultimate goal was to legally bring players to the U.S. and give compensation for their talent to them, not to their home country.
According to ESPN, MLB requested a meeting with U.S. Government officials but no such meeting was granted.
For over 140 years, MLB has showcased hard working players from all walks of color, religion and life. MLB reported ahead of 2018’s opening day that 27 percent of MLB players are foreign-born.
Ironically enough, Cuba has boasted a handful of elite players currently playing in the MLB that haven’t fallen anything short of amazing.
Some of the games best current players including Aroldis Chapman of the Yankees, José Abreu of the Chicago White Sox and Yasiel Puig of the Cincinnati Reds who are all All-Stars that once previously defected from Cuba to play in the show.
Chapman defected from Cuba while playing for the Cuban National Team in the Netherlands in 2009 and signed with the Reds a year later. The successful defect attempt was not his first, including a failed attempt that kept him from representing Cuba in the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Abreu had to leave his then 3-year-old son behind and did not get to see his father play MLB until August of 2016, when the White Sox came to Miami for an interleague matchup against the Marlins.
When defecting from Cuba, players potentially looking to make a professional career in the U.S. face giving up their citizenship in exchange for the chance to bring millions of dollars to their families and themselves.
Cuban players are ultimately forced to make the decision to go for glory and leave their families or stay home and continue to struggle behind family support.
That’s the easy part.
The current U.S. trade embargo of Cuba limits MLB teams to deal with Cuban clubs. What ensues next entails players being forced to make out payments to criminal cartels to smuggle them out of Cuba illegally.
For Cuban players such as 16-year veteran shortstop Yorbis Borroto of the Cuban National Team, the pride of playing for their families and country is worth more than playing for a million dollars away from home.
While the pay cut is drastically different as Cuban ball players only earn a few hundreds dollars a month, they are legally allowed to sign temporary contracts with foreign countries teams including Panama, Japan and Italy.
Although the Trump administration believes strongly that the Cuban government will profit from these players receiving millions of dollars to come to America and play a child’s game, MLB continues to try and make its presence known outside of the United States and Canada.
Like many, Puig defected from Cuba to Mexico before signing a seven-year, $42 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012. Ahead of the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Puig had such a strong connection to Mexico that he reportedly considered playing for the Mexican National Team instead of Cuba.
From Americans Mike Trout and Yadier Molina, Japanese Shohei Ohtani, Venezuelan José Altuve, Canadian Joey Votto and Dominican Robinson Cano, stars of today’s baseball come from all over the world and no one bats an eye until it’s a Cuban-born player.