Dan Le Batard is on record as opposing Cuba’s participation in the forthcoming World Baseball Classic. So very on-the-record and determined to make his point, in fact, that he’s delivered the same column to two different publications.
Fidel Castro is our Hitler, our Saddam, our bin Laden. Before quibbling over the analogies or getting into a comparison of atrocities, please absorb that. Viscerally, immediately, how would you feel about playing games today with them? Would they just be exhibitions then?
Castro has the blood of my people on his hands. His prisons, his firing squads, his politics, his evil.
The beautiful island of my parents and grandparents is rotting and stuck in the 1950s just 90 miles away because of an assortment of human-rights violations that keep an American embargo in place and wrongly jailed my uncle for nearly a decade.
The desperation on the island is such that people drown in the ocean trying to escape it, literally throwing their lives to the wind.
How oppressed would you have to feel to put your children on a flimsy raft made of wood and tires?
So you understand why I don’t exactly want to play baseball with this man, why I don’t want him wrapping these games in his politics and propaganda, why I don’t want him to even have the chance to feel the way our triumphant country did with the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team. That was only the biggest and most emotional upset in the history of American sports. And America doesn’t even care about hockey.
From ESPN The Magazine, January 2 2005 :
Castro is our Saddam. He still employs firing squads and unfairly jails thouse who think freely. Our once beautiful island rots in his tyrant’s grip. Castro has the blood of my people on his hands. I don’t want to play with him.
Before you knee-jerk that the analogies don’t work, concentrate on the emotion. Would a game against Saddam’s team be just another exhibition?
There is no telling how many Castro has killed with his thug police, executioners and prisons, not to mention all those who drowned fleeing his evil. This is the highest profile baseball tournament ever. I don’t want to give Castro a chance to feel the way we did after the U.S. Olympic hockey team beat the Soviets In 1980.
Castro’s Cuba continues to be fled with uncommon desperation, parents literally throwing their children to the wind. How awful does your situation have to be for you to put young ones in a flimsy raft of wood and tires, cast off with a prayer that death won’t be closer than land?