Obama's First Pitch

American baseball has begun another pampered journey towards its self-styled world series this fall. It will be hard enough doing so against the fanfare of a genuine world event like this summer's 2010 World Cup of Football (soccer), but it must gall honest American sportsmen even more that the real championship of baseball finished in the wee hours a week ago Monday, in Cuba!

In the tenth inning of the seventh game, Havana beat Santa Clara in a nail-biter. It was a terrific series, played against the backdrop of fundamental cowardice in sponsored American media who dared not cover it for fear their fans might learn the truth: that the best Cuban teams would clean the clocks of what American and Canadian fans pay through the nose for: a second class product.

That's the real secret behind the spiteful Helms-Burton embargo. The best teams in Cuba would win North America's so-called 'World Series' hands down. A Cuban second string already thumped the Baltimore Orioles 12 - 6 at Camden Yahds in 1999 and MLB hasn't had the guts to risk another such comeuppance since.

The latest evidence came in a March 31st article on the eve of this year's magnificent Cuban final, when McClatchy-Tribune News reporter Kevin Baxter, drawing on files from the Associated Press (AP), didn't even mention the series! All he could blather about was how many Cuban players 'defect' during international tournaments.

He was quick to vaunt the $30.25 million Cincinnati paid for pitcher Aroldis Chapman this January even though Chapman was no star in Cuba and had posted losing averages in two of his four seasons in the Cuban league. Same thing goes for most of the other so-called defectors.

And therein lies the lie.

North-American sport media only ever mention the defectors. Where is the coverage of the 95% of first string players that remain in Cuba and, more importantly by far, where is the coverage of Cuba's teams, not just a few individuals?

The truth is that stories about individual players leaving Cuba for the US are spun to look like migrations towards a superior brand of baseball. They are not. They are the understandable attempts of a few journeymen players in the Cuban league trying to escape dead end careers and poverty. No mention is made of the fact that superior players remain in Cuba, that the defectors would far prefer to live and play in Cuba themselves given a reasonable economy, and that the only reason for their poverty is the vindictive and hateful spite of Helms-Burton.

President Obama, you have a tough decision to make. Lift the embargo and the elite of Cuban baseball will opt to stay at home, play at home, and repeatedly win any genuine world series in which you dare let them play.

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