Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
stealing home
Home  |  The Debate  |  The Future of Cuban Baseball

the debate
Defections
Baseball and Society
The Dominican Comparision
The Future of Cuban Baseball
Personal
Histories
The Cuban National League
Join the Debate!
cuban national league
cuban baseball yesterday
sport & society
the defectors
web resources
screensaver
The Future of Cuban Baseball

Alan Klein

  • The Future of Baseball in Cuba
  • Autonomy and Nationalism
    Roberto Gonzales Echevarria
  • The Future of Cuban Baseball


    Alan Klein
    Sports Anthropologist

    • The Future of Baseball in Cuba
      The shock for Cuba will be greater because of the state system that was operating. In the Dominican Republic you always had a form of capitalism. Players were playing for pay, they were trying to make a living, they were selling their skills abroad in one way or another. In Cuba you had this period since 1960 where ball players were essentially state supported, subsidize, they were precluded from becoming involved in the capital kind of economy. So the shock for that system would be greater and the loss of autonomy that much more significance. But nevertheless, if it's handled correctly it will offer unbelievable opportunities for a large number of players and it can be grown. I think the difference now, even in the last few years, there was the incident with the Dodgers last year where they were found to have signed ballplayers' illegally and so forth and so on. Those kinds of things occasionally happen and there are, ballclubs sometimes choose to look to the other way instead of following through at every level. But what I see overall is individual teams are operating with a greater sense of responsibility than any other time I've ever seen. Governments and countries are also taking over some degree of control, they're putting restrictions on people they're making it harder for example in the D R to sign underage players, they are requiring more of individual teams, they are making them come up with language lessons, and this that and the other thing. Now some teams are better at it than other teams, some teams have a greater sense of responsibility than others, but the point is that overall the level of responsibility for major-league clubs has grown considerably. They acknowledge now that the future of the game is global, they acknowledge that a healthy the Venezuelan baseball is good for major-league baseball and as a result they're treating it differently than they did 15/20 years ago. Still one hand yes the Dominican Republic lost its autonomy, yes Cuba will lose its level of play, in the sense of developed play as we talked about. On the other hand it doesn't necessarily have to result in the worst forms of it. It could. I could create a scenario where people like Joe Cubas operate without any constraints at all. Sandy in the commissioner's office was terrified of that possibility. He wants the commissioner's office said clampdown on that. I could see in the best possible scenario also that major-league baseball would have a refined sense of responsibility, of cultural responsibility and economic responsibility, and do what it takes to grow the game in those countries. A stronger rather than a weaker form of Cuban baseball is better for everybody. The question is one who is going to be able to succeed. Joe Cubas one tramples on international law and with his third country signings. On the one hand it's very clever, he's a very clever man. On the other hand he pushed the edges of any kind of legal understanding that we have and do we want to see that as the future of the game or do we wants to see something else. I think personally we're poised to go either way. Cubas has lost the kind of game it had 10 years ago and a lot has gone with it, that's sad. However, it doesn't necessarily have to go down the tubes all together. It can in fact be brought around to be a very strong level of play, if it's done right.
    • Autonomy and Nationalism
      There's two ways that loss of any kind of autonomy could affect the notion of nationalism as constructed in this society: one is of course, that it represents a placating but some kind of foreign enterprises and results in an actual loss of national identity or national esteem. On the other hand, as we see in the D R, you see that if people don't succeed by major league standards that represents a loss. Sammy Sosa is a national hero, as is Pedro Martinez, because they succeed in the U.S. If they were to have stayed at home they might have been closer to their fellow countrymen but they would not have constituted the remarkable success that they are. That success has to be played out in U.S. terms. That's the irony of the whole thing that's the tension around which it all revolves. So that people need major-league baseball to measure a degree of success or excellence is a vital for national identity. At the same time as it represents a simultaneous loss of it on some other level were, that's the tension that has to be played out. It's a very delicate balance that has to be struck. In the case of the Dominican Republic, there was no sense of delicacy or balance about it at all, it failed. I mean I truly see it as a failure. It is of feeder system pure and simple, not much else compared to what it used to be. but Cuba is not cut and dried. It could become a disastrous failure, it could following the untrammled access of some of the scouts like Joe Cubas could be disastrous. if it's not handled responsibly it could be but it doesn't necessarily have to be. Does it represent a loss of status, on some level it will represent a loss of autonomy. on the other hand , it could still be a measure of success and strong, a strong kind of a system as well. there's a million ways in which I could construct this notion.

    Roberto Gonzales Echevarria
    Cuban Baseball Historian
    • The Future of Cuban Baseball
      I am very much afraid that if a change takes place in Cuba and the major leagues descend upon the island to exploit the talent that is there that something like what is happening in the Dominican Republic, but on in much larger scale, will take place in Cuba. You have to remember that the Dominican Republic is half an island, that Cuba is huge compared to the Dominican Republic, not only in territory but also in terms of population and people playing baseball.
              I don't really know what the situation is now, what kind of relationship there is between the Dominican league and organized baseball, between Puerto Rico, I have, I fear that those leagues are very much ain control of organized baseball, and are being used more and more as leagues to develop talent, which diminishes their interest because then the players play to develop their careers in the United States and not to have Maloues win or the Aguilas Ciudenas win, or that sort of thing. So it would, something would have to be agreed upon, but I think that anything is better than what we have now.

     
  • back to the top