Monday, March 7, 2016

Cuban Baseball Crisis: Why the Tampa Bay Rays Should Not Play the Cuban National Team

Danville, Kentucky -- For half a century, our world was divided. A Cold War was waged between countries who believed in man's inalienable right to free enterprise and the pursuit of happiness, and countries who espoused a cruel and failed ideology responsible for Stalinism and Pol Pot. For 13 days in October of 1962, the Soviet Union moved nuclear missiles into Cuba and our world stood at the precipice of nuclear war. President John F. Kennedy had the steadfast resolve and moral courage to stare evil in the eye that day, and evil blinked. Months later, our great nation lost its President; the white knight of our country, who for one brief, shining, moment showed us the promise of the New Frontier. Because Mr. Kennedy had the courage to stand up to Communism, he was taken by an assassin's bullet; the victim of a grand conspiracy perpetrated by a disaffected worm with known Cuban ties, elements of his own government, and a shadowy network of Castro sympathizers.

When Ronald Reagan single-handedly brought the Iron Curtain down, intellectuals myopically heralded "The End of History" and the Triumph of Liberal-Democratic Capitalism. The Soviet threat was vanquished, and communism discredited, they said. The only work left to be done was to spread globalization to every corner of our world, so that the virtues of free markets and international trade could be enjoyed by all, they said.

Folks, they lied. The Cold War never ended. Less than 400 miles from Giancarlo Stanton's moon-shot launching pad in Miami lies Cuba, backwater country and one of the last defenders of the cruel and failed ideology of Communism. Since the days of Eisenhower, the Castro regime has repressed the democratic yearnings of its people, denying them basic civil rights and the freedom of speech and free expression. The natural impulse of all free men to purchase and exchange goods in a free-market system has been denied. Good Americans have been imprisoned and abused by this regime. Cuba is a place so awful that people risk their lives trying to escape it, like Brayan Pena or Marco Rubio's parents.

In spite of these atrocities, Obama and the MLB have sought to bring Cuba within the fold of globalization by slowly integrating Cuban baseball organizations into the MLB. The first step? An exhibition game held in Havana, between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team this March 22nd. Mr. Obama and his Castro-sympathizing comrades Jay-Z and Beyonce may have forgotten about Castro's crimes, but I haven't. Obama should be ashamed that he is validating and legitimating the regime's abuses by pledging that he will attend this game. The Castro regime does not need the Obama seal of approval. If you stand for nothing, Obama, what'll you fall for?

The MLB would tell you its motives are benevolent, but we all know this is just a pretext to spread Draft Kings advertising to a new market of consumers. If we capitulate to the Cubans, I fear a domino effect. Where does it end: sending some unfortunate MLB team to play against the brutal Kim regime in North Korea? There's a reason our country launched the Tet Offensive instead of inviting the Viet Cong to a friendly baseball exhibition. If there's a need to send MLB teams to other communist hell-holes, I vote for the St. Louis Cardinals. Better yet, let the Cardinals play an exhibition game in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

A Solution?

Folks, the geopolitics isn't even the worst part of this exhibition game. The MLB chose the wrong team to represent America. If the goal of this exhibition is to show the Cubans America's best ballplayers, why not send over a winning team? The World Champion Kansas City Royals™ or maybe the democratically-elected American League All-Stars would suffice. I love Chris Archer and Drew Smyly as much as the next guy, but the Rays' sabermetrically designed lineup just doesn't have the star-power you'd want for a showcase like this. Fortunately, the solution is right under our noses.

If I were willing to put aside my moral objections to playing baseball in Havana (which I'm not), I wouldn't send the Rays. I'd make an all Cuban team. Let the best and brightest Cuban exiles in the MLB play ambassador to their former homeland. For starters I'd invite: José Abreu, Yoenis Céspedes, José Fernández, José Iglesias, MVP-snub and "Cuban Breakfast" Kendrys Morales, Yasiel Puig, and Jorge Soler. Brayan Pena, the nicest guy in the game, should be catcher and player-manager of this team. This would be the true way to generate goodwill and bridge the cultural divide between the US and Cuba.

The Rays are like the Trump-haters Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan: not the right men for the job. And Cuba is a country of no jobs, other than brutally suppressing liberty at the point of a gun. Do the right thing, Mr. Obama. Don't appease a country that tortures and abuses its own people. America spent decades fighting the Castros, and sacrificed untold blood and treasure attempting to stem the tide of Communism. The Cubans already killed Kennedy; don't let them kill the MLB's moral compass too.