Generally, the week after Labor Day is one of the saddest of the entire year. I’m always sad when the Minor League Baseball season ends. Sure, some of our guys might get called up for the end of the season. But it’s just not the same without them playing in down the street and in other towns and cities across the U.S.
This year, however, is different. Both the Frederick Keys and the Bowie Baysox, the Baltimore Orioles single A and double A affiliates, are in the playoffs. Game one for both teams is tonight – and they’re both playing at home.
Two years ago, the Bowie Baysox were the Eastern League champions. We’re hoping to take home the trophy again!
Good luck to both the Keys and the Baysox!
Bowie Baysox, 2015 Eastern League Champions (photo courtesy of milb.com)
If you think the All-Star Break is all but over, you’re wrong. Tonight the Triple A All-Star game will be played between the International League and Pacific League all-stars. The Eastern League All-Star game will also be played tonight. Both games will be on MiLB.TV.
Yesterday, before the first pitch of the MLB All-Star Game was even thrown, one of my very own Bowie Baysox, Aderlin Rodriguez, had won the Eastern League Home Run Derby. The Triple A home run derby took place on Monday, with the title being captured by Bryce Brentz of the Pawtucket Red Sox. Brentz hit 18 home runs and Rodriguez hit 14 to win their respective titles.
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.
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 Timesquoted 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” ?
¿Que bolá Cuba? Just touched down here, looking forward to meeting and hearing directly from the Cuban people.
With 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:
The 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.
Deux Montréalais qui vont visiter chaque terrain de la ligue majeure de baseball pour promouvoir le retour d'une équipe de baseball à Montréal Two montrealers visiting all the mlb ballparks to promote the return of an mlb franchise in Montreal