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December 19, 2005

Cuba Can't Play in the World Baseball Classic

Cuban National Flag On December 14 the United States banned Cuba from participating in the first World Baseball Classic, scheduled for March 2006. The United States Treasury Department through its Office of Foreign Assets Control claims that Cuba's participation in the tournament would violate the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. Title 31, Part 515 of the CFR, designed to financially isolate Cuba and deprive it of U.S. dollars, forbids the U.S. from issuing a license if it helps Cuba make money. In effect, Cuba's participation in the World Baseball Classic would violate the embargo implications outlined in the regulations.

Reaction to the United States' action has been one of disappointment for a number of people and groups, both inside and outside of Cuba. Eighty members of the U.S. Congress signed letters to Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow, urging them ``not to take international politics to the ball field.'' A statement issued by New York Democrat José E. Serrano, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, said, ''The World Baseball Classic should not be tainted by our grudge against Cuba's government; Cuba produces some of the finest baseball talent in the world, and they deserve to participate.'' Cuban national Antonio Mayeta, who works in a Cuban government operated grocery store, said, "Enough already! It is unbelievable. This is about sports, not politics. In Cuba, baseball is our culture." Major League Baseball International and the Major League Baseball Players Association have already initiated efforts to persuade the U.S. government to reverse its Cuba decision. In a December 17 editorial published in the Long Island, New York-based Newsday newspaper, opinion-makers wrote, "Somebody ought to inform the U.S. Treasury Department that the Cold War is over. The decision to bar a Cuban team from playing...is, in a word, ridiculous." Peter Angelos, owner of Major League Baseball's Baltimore Orioles called the U.S. ban of Cuba's team "a continuation of a vendetta." But Molly Millerwise, a spokeswoman for the Treasury Department, wrote in an emailed statement that activities or contracts that could result in financial flows [to Cuba] would effectively work against the objective of the sanctions and be inconsistent with current U.S. foreign policy towards Cuba."

Cuban Baseball Home Page Mr. Angelos, sometimes referred to as the "King of the Tort Lawyers" refers to a "vendetta" which is a particularly unsophisticated way of portraying one of the more spellbinding political psychodramas of the late 20th century. US-Cuban relations froze after the 1959 Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro. The 1963 restrictions imposed by the U.S. were designed to starve Cuba as it morphed into a disturbing socialist proxy land just off the coast of Florida.

Baseball began in Cuba nearly eighty years before the island country engaged in its socialist revolution. Cuban culture absorbed the American sport long before the Cuban missile crisis and the Bay of Pigs. The socialist revolution significantly altered the way baseball was played and experienced in Cuba. After the revolution,

[T]he organization of baseball in Cuba offered a stark contrast with the organization of baseball in the United States. Whereas baseball in the United States is largely coordinated by market forces, in Cuba, political decisions account for the determination of player salary, team composition, team location, and the distribution of player talent...In the United States, the business of professional baseball is mostly driven by the ideology of a free market economy. Teams are privately held and purchased in a competitive market; teams compete for the best players, with players going to the highest bidder; and player pay tracks each player's marginal revenue of product (how much money he generates for owners).Almost all business decisions reflect the profit motive, be it in the pricing of tickets, giveaways at the park, the marketing of teams overseas, the development of player and team persona, the contraction and expansion of teams, and what cities teams play in. The organization of Cuban baseball offers a sharp contrast to the organization of professional U.S. baseball. In Cuba, insofar as the concept of team “ownership” applies, teams belong to the state; players earn a minimal state salary; players play for their regional team with virtually no player mobility; there is no advertising in the stadiums, on radio, or on television; and games cost just pennies to attend. ["CUBAN BASEBALL: Ideology, Politics, and Market Forces" by Katherine E. Baird in the Journal of Sport and Social Issues, Volume 29, No. 2, May 2005, pp. 164-183]
Politics is on the fields of baseball everywhere. In Havana and in Washington DC (where there is quite a bit of pompous political debate regarding the state financing of a baseball stadium.) Money is also on the field of baseball. Inside the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, free market capitalism is still being defended.

Is government regulation of sports markets superior to the use of market forces...or is it vice versa? The World Baseball Classic was not designed to resolve this issue. Keeping the Cubans out of the Spring Classic does not shed any light either.

Cuban Baseball: Ideology, Politics, and Market Forces



November 30, 2005

Dragons Win Cosmic Universal Series, 4-3

Link to 2005 Cosmic Universal Series Main Plate It took seven games to decide this season's best cosmic baseball team. The 2005 Cosmic Universal Series was a very exciting affair. At first it looked like the Delta Dragons would walk away with the championship but then the Dharma Beats got focused only to ultimately lose the big one.


2005 Cosmic Universal Series
Final Stats
Batting


Pitching



2005 CUS Main Plate



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