Friday, March 10, 2006

High Fidel-ity

An anti-Castro sign at last night's World Baseball Classic game between Cuba and the Netherlands has created, according to the Associated Press headline, an "international incident." A spectator held up several signs during the game, saying such things as "Down With Fidel," and "Baseball Players Yes, Tyrants No." The Cuban response was, of course, standard fare. A Cuban official at the game tried to confront the demonstrator; thankfully the Puerto Rican police intervened and prevented him from doing so. Following the game, the Cubans refused to participate in the post-game news conference. This was surprising, as they had been so open to reporters up until that point. Their explanation:

"What happened was a provocation by a group of five counterrevolutionary characters who aggravated our delegation with signs and words that were offensive to us, violating the established rules of the organizing committee," said one offical close to the Cuban delegation.

"The police, far from fixing the situation, opted to support the protesters," he said.

Can you believe those Puerto Rican policemen, allowing a man to exercise his right to free speech? And those crazy counterrevolutionaries, hurting the feelings of the poor, sensitive little Cuban players. Who wouldn't cry after seeing such a damaging collection of cardboard and ink?

The communist party's newspaper in Cuba (is there any other type of newspaper in Cuba?) called the demonstration a "cowardly incident." I agree, as it is much more cowardly to speak your mind in a free and democratic manner than, say, force your best baseball players to stay at home because you are afraid they will defect. Or because if your team gets their asses handed to them by the Americans, you can trot out the whole "we didn't have our best team dressed" line.

Of course, a non-cowardly demonstration occured in Havana, with one protestor holding a sign that said, "Down With Bush." Oooooh. Burn. You sure showed the free world its hypocrisy, what with the state-supported demonstration you attended. Now if you had held up a sign that said, "I'm Down With Bush" or even "I Like To Go Down On Bush," you might have garnered my respect and sympathy. But "Down With Bush"? Come on. Can't you guys ship in some minister from Syria or Iran to help you out with the propaganda?

Shockingly, after doing all their usual huffing and puffing, the Cubans decided not to go home. Whew. Thank goodness. What would the sporting world have done if the Cuban minor league team--unable to speak to the media or walk around Puerto Rico without police "protection"--had decided to call it quits? Could the tournament--and the world--have survived such a damaging blow?

***Update*** It appears that the desire of Cuban officials for their team to "respond to the provocations with hits, home runs, strikes, outs" hasn't worked out so well. Puerto Rico defeated Cuba 12-2 tonight, forcing the mercy rule into effect in the 7th inning. It also appears that claims by Cuban players that they will defeat teams with MLB players on them because MLB players "rent themselves" was erroneous. The win by Puerto Rico sets up a monster matchup between them and the Dominican Republic on Sunday. That will be a game worth watching.


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