#WBC2017


Congrats to @SimplyAJ10, the rest of the USA team, and team Puerto Rico for an awesome World Baseball Classic!

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

History Made


It will take some time to analyze – and simply mull over- the events of yesterday: MLB in Cuba, the President in Cuba, the President at a baseball game in Cuba. And Chris Archer and the rest of the Tampa Bay Rays practically giddy with excitement. 

It was wondrous to behold. Even if only on TV. 

Politics played a big part of yesterday, of course. Not only did President Obama discuss his Cuba plans on ESPN, they also published an article by Obama on his visit to Cuba. In case you missed it, the ESPN interview with President Obama:

We’ll have to wait and see what changes actually come about in Cuba – and MLB – as a result of this event. In the meantime, at least we got to enjoy a pretty cool baseball game

~ baseballrebecca

What a Ball Game!


Barbudos_-_Fidel_Castro_and_Camilo_Cienfuegos
Camilo Cienfuegos and Fidel Castro, ca. 1959 (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

According to Wikipedia, American sailors and Cuban college students who had studied in the U.S. introduced baseball to Cuba in the 1860s. One of the first baseball teams, the Havana Base Ball Club, was formed in 1868 by Nemesio and Ernesto Guillot. Nemesio had attended Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL. However, Spain banned baseball in Cuba in 1869 after the first Cuban War of Independence. Thus, baseball became a symbol of freedom for Cuba.

Is baseball still a symbol of freedom? If so, does President Obama’s presence at today’s game, the Tampa Bay Rays v. the Cuban National Team, hold even more significance?

According to the Washington Post, the President’s deputy national security advisor (and baseball fan), Ben Rhodes recommended the use of “baseball diplomacy” as a way to established new ties with Cuba. The Post quoted Rhodes as saying, “Beyond policies and programs, this trip is about marking a historic milestone with the Cuban people and going to a game that represents our shared pastime is a way for the President to share this moment with them. He’s pleased that MLB is engaging the Cuban people and hopes it’s just one more step in normalizing relations in a way that benefits our peoples and increases the bonds between them.” Similarly, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred stated a few weeks ago, “During a time of historic change, we appreciate the constructive role afforded by our shared passion for the game, and we look forward to experiencing Cuba’s storied baseball tradition and the passion of its many loyal fans.”

The Tampa Bay Times quoted Orioles outfielder Henry Urrutia, who had been a 12-year old fan in the stands when the Orioles played Cuba in 1999, as stating, “This game, it is going to be, I think, better than last time because people see this in a different way. Before, in Cuba, a lot of people saw it in a political way. I think now it’s different.” Yoenis Cespedes, outfielder for the New York Mets who also was born in Cuba, told the Times how important the game was for the Cuban people: “It’s gonna mean a lot over there, just because we really don’t have access to Major League Baseball. Not because the people don’t want to see it, but because it is limited. It’s going to be great for the people to see Major League Baseball players. It means a lot that they are playing there. A very big step.”

So, is the trip all about the restoration of diplomatic ties, business expansion into Cuba, finding a faster/safer way for Cuban players to make it to MLB, or a combination of all of the above? Or maybe it’s just about catching a game during Spring Break. Maybe Obama was simply trying to say, “What a ball (game)!” when he said Que bola Cuba?

 

Enjoy the game!

~ baseballrebecca

 

Coverage of the Rays in Cuba


1 68Eb40G036iQzYhJBaQ1-QWith all the media coverage of Obama and the Rays’ visit to Cuba, what’s a baseball fan supposed to do? The Baseball Sociologist has it covered. Below are links to some of the most interesting articles posted over the last few days on various news websites:

  • Tampa Bay Tribune, “Cubans’ passion for baseball ‘is their DNA’”
  • ESPN, “MLB’s goal is a safer pipeline from Cuba”
  • Washington Post, “With Obama visit, Cubans home for home run in baseball diplomacy”
  • MLB.com, “Hello Havana: Historic Cuba trip begins”
  • Tampa Bay Tribune, “Rays announce Cuba roster, with one special addition: defector Varona”
  • ESPN, “Cuban players are on the rise in MLB, and the dream of playing for country one day”
  • Washington Post, “With Obama and MLB in Cuba, Dusty Baker wants the Nationals to visit one day”
  • Tampa Bay Times, updated “live” coverage

And for more of an historical perspective:

  • Huffington Post, “Havana’s Forgotten Baseball Team Play A Key Role in U.S.-Cuba Relations”
  • ESPN, “10 Cuban baseball pioneers”
  • Tampa Bay Tribune, “Tampa, Cuba have a history that was forged on baseball diamond”
  • Baltimore Sun, “With Rays set to play in Cuba, a look back at the Orioles’ groundbreaking visit in 1999”
  • The New York Times, “This Cuban Defector Changed Baseball. Nobody Remembers.”
  • Los Angeles Times, “Obama’s going to a ballgame in Havana: Here’s what he needs to know about Cuban baseball”

Happy reading!

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

Serie del Caribe: Questions Remain


Serie 16The Serie del Caribe may be over for 2016, but it gave us a lot to think about. Not only did it bring national attention to the series in the United States, but it may have given us some new Cuban baseball defectors. Here are just a few things to think about:

  • Why is it that neither The New York Times nor The Washington Post covered the Caribbean Series championship game in their Sunday print editions? Sure, there were other sports stories on Sunday, but they couldn’t even manage a mention in “What’s on TV”? A quick search on the Post‘s website for “Caribbean Series” reveals a whopping five stories on the entire series (six if you count the one yesterday about the Gurriels defecting) during the week; the Times website lists four articles. And when the results are sorted by relevance, the first article in the list is about the Zika virus. Really?
  • Was it a good thing or a bad thing that the Series final was moved from ESPN Deportes (to make way for the Super Bowl) to ESPN News? Although this apparently was announced previously, it wasn’t made clear to those of us scrambling to find the game. However, ESPN News is a channel that usually broadcasts in English, so maybe the Series reached more people on ESPN News? (Still waiting for ESPN public relations to get back to me on that one.)
  • Why were MLB.com and ESPN.com slow to update their sites with information about the Series? As late as a few days before, there was virtually no information on the schedules, the rosters, etc. And why, is it still so hard to find the rosters on MLB.com? (They are there, just not easy to find, in my opinion. And when they were added is a mystery, since I couldn’t find them a week ago, either.)
  • The Orioles’ Dariel did a great job – but was it enough to get him noticed? Or will he end up in Norfolk again this season?

As the Baseball Sociologist, I know there are multiple layers to these issues, and there are numerous sociological theories I could apply. I’ll leave the interpretation up to you, my beloved readers. Feel free to weigh in on any or all of these in the comments section.

~ baseballrebecca

Postseason Decisions


This year, it won’t be hard for me to choose who to root for in the postseason (Go O’s!!  Go Nats!!).  For others, there are several things to consider in their postseason support decisions. Major news outlets, naturally, are full of opinions on this topic.  So, if, for some reason, you aren’t rooting for the Baltimore Orioles or Washington Nationals, here are some helpful tips:

Lamenting the absence of the New York Yankees in the postseason, The New York Times discusses who to root for in the post season (of course, I think the O’s and the Nats should be much higher on their list):

Which Baseball Team Deserves a Title? Consult the Suffering Index

Not to be outdone, The Wall Street Journal also has rated the postseason contenders with their “Hateability Index.” On that scale, the O’s and Nats should be lower:

The 2014 Baseball Playoffs Hateability Index

NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk joined the game with their reasons for and against rooting for the AL and NL teams:

Who to root for in the postseason

Whomever you root for (pick the O’s) this posteason (pick the Nats), may you enjoy every game!

Happy postseason, y’all!

~ baseballrebecca

2014 Caribbean Series


Caribbean-World-SeriesSo, this is the big weekend! No, not Super Bowl weekend, but the beginning of the Caribbean Series!

This year, the series is in Margarita Island, Venezuela. It begins with a 10-game round robin schedule (February 1 – 5). Next, is a four-team playoff round (February 6), culminating with the championship game on February 7.

The countries and teams competing are:

If it weren’t enough excitement that Cuba is in the tournament after a 53-year absence, Ozzie Guillen will be the ESPN Deportes analyst, and El Duque – Orlando Hernandez – will be the guest analyst on ESPN Deportes radio. Below is the schedule through Wednesday. All games are on ESPN Deportes, if you happen to have access to it.

Happy baseball-watching!

~ baseballrebecca

Date Games Times (Eastern)
Feb. 1 Puerto Rico @ Dominican Republic 2:30 pm
Cuba @ Mexico 8:30 pm
Feb. 2 Mexico @ Puerto Rico 2:30 pm
Cuba @ Venezuela 8:30 pm
Feb. 3 Dominican Republic @ Cuba 3:00 pm
Venezuela @ Mexico 7:30 pm
Feb. 4 Puerto Rico @ Cuba 3:00 pm
Dominican Republic @ Venezuela 7:30 pm
Feb. 5 Mexico @ Dominican Republic 3:00 pm
Venezuela @ Puerto Rico 7:30 pm
Feb. 6 TBD
Feb. 7 TBD