Archive for December, 2005

Matsui to skip World Baseball Classic

Hideki Matsui, Ichiro Suzuki - ©Photofile
New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui has decided not to join Japan’s World Baseball Classic team next March.

“I have decided not to join up with the national squad. I know that it would be ideal to play for both club and country and I understand that (Japan manager) Sadaharu Oh and the fans were hoping I would do that,” Matsui said. “But the reason I decided to go to the United States was to try and become a world champion with the Yankees and I fear that chasing two goals might get in the way of that dream.”

“He wrote saying how important it was to him to try and become a world champion at the Yankees next season,” Oh expressed disappointment. “It’s disappointing but I can understand. It’s up to him to decide. It was not a surprise that he refused since he had been hesitating for such a long time.”

Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and Chicago White Sox infielder Tadahito Iguchi have already decided to join Japanese Team at the WBC.

Matsui, 31, batted a career-best .305 with 23 homers and a career-high 116 RBI in 2005; he also set career-highs in hits (192) and doubles (45). He has never missed a game since entering the majors in 2003. For his first three years in the MLB, he has .297 batting average, 70 homers and 330 RBI.

One stats might influence the decision of Matsui, he only batted .255 (69-for-271) with six home runs and 44 RBIs in April for the pass three season with Yankees.

He just signed a four-year, 52 million contract with Yankees last month, which makes him to become the highest-paid Japanese player in the major leagues, surpassing Ichiro (signed four-year, 44 million-dollar deal in 2003).

Matsui is the second high profile Yankee players decide not to play the WBC in two weeks, joining third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Other Yankees fielders, Derek Jeter (United States), Johnny Damon (United States), Robinson Cano (Dominican Republic) and Bernie Williams (Puerto Rico) have agreed to play.

Catcher Jorge Posada is blocked by Yankees because his age, Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina also believed to be restricted, both of them did not list as participating.

Pitcher Chien-Ming Wang also wants to play, and has been working out with the Taiwan team this offseason, according to his agent, Alan Chang. But the Yankees have told baseball officials they have reservations about Wang taking part because of the rotator cuff tear he suffered last July.

Chang said Wang plans to return to the United States next month to continue his workouts in Arizona, where he shares the same trainer as Randy Johnson. “When he reports to Yankees spring training in February, the Yankees medical and training staff will evaluate him and make the appropriate recommendation at that time,” Chang added.

Tejada prepared

Miguel Tejada - 2005 Batting Action
To prepare for World Baseball Classic, Baltimore Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada, who had previously said he would sit out this winter season, already started to bat for one team of his native Dominican Republic.

“I don’t want to hang around doing nothing at home,” Tejada said, before his debut as a designated hitter with the Aguilas Cibaenas. “I’m going to start playing today to get myself in shape.”

Tejada, 29, signed a $72 million, six-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles before the 2004 season. He hit .304 with 26 home runs and 98 RBIs this season.

Tejada hit 3-1 and drove in two runs Thursday, but Cibaenas lost 7-5 to the Leones del Escogido.

The Dominican World Baseball Classic team will be loaded with talented sluggers, including Vladimir Guerrero, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano.

“I have to (play) not only for me but for my family,” said Tejada, who was born in Bani, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) southwest of the capital, Santo Domingo.

In the mean time, Pittsburgh Pirates Starting Pitcher Oliver Perez, who also plan to pitch for his native country Mexico in World Baseball Classic, is also active in Winter League.

He said he does not expect to attend the Pirates’ voluntary minicamp during Jan. 10-15 in Bradenton, Florida, because it collides with Mexican playoffs.

Japan release exhibition games schedule, Matsui undecided

Hideki Matsui - 2003 World Series, Game 2, Home Run
Japan’s World Baseball Classic Team will play exhibition games against Chiba Lotte Marines and the Yomiuri Giants, and Hideki Matsui still undecided if he will join or not.

Japan, who leads by Sadaharu Oh, will play against a team made up of non-WBC members from the 12 clubs in Nippon Professional baseball at Yahoo Dome in Fukuoka on Feb. 24 and 25. Then Japan will play with Marines on Feb 27 at Yahoo Dome and Giants at Tokyo Dome on March 1.

Japan will play against China on March 3th, Taiwan on March 4th and Korea on March 5th at Tokyo Dome. The top two teams of Pool A will advance to the second round to be played in the Angel Stadium begin on March 12.

Japan already announced the 29-man roster for inaugural World Baseball Classic, however, the remains one roster spot still pending. New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui is still undecided on whether he will join or not.

“The situation hasn’t changed at all. I’m still thinking it over. But I would like to let manager Sadaharu Oh know what I’ll do as soon as he comes back from Taiwan,” Matsui said during a visit to Tochigi Prefecture. Oh is visiting Taiwan and is scheduled to return to Japan on Saturday.

Baseball reapplied, Puerto Rico protest

Baseball officials reapplied for a permit that would allow Cuba to join World Baseball Classic and Puerto Rico’s baseball federation also announced that San Juan would withdraw as a host city if the Cubans were not allowed to participate

Baseball spokesman Pat Courtney said a new application was submitted to the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. The commissioner’s office and the players’ assiciation had said they planned to address government concerns and ensure that no money would go from U.S. entities to the Cubans.

Israel Roldan, president of the Baseball Federation of Puerto Rico, and Hector Cardona, president of the Puerto Rico’s Olympic Committee, opposed the decision by the U.S. Government.

“What we are saying is that we should renounce our position as host if Cuba is not permitted to compete,” Roldan said. Roldan sent a letter to International Baseball Federation President Aldo Notari saying the island would decline to be a venue because of the U.S. government’s decision.

Notari said he sympathized with Roldan’s view but said it was up to Major League Baseball to move the games out of Puerto Rico, which is scheduled to host games during the first and second rounds. “I won’t enter into a problem with the national committee,” Notari said. “The position of Roldan is very good and very clear.”

Cardona also mentioned that he was talking to other Latin American officials to enlist their support in persuading the U.S. government to change its position.

Cuba is scheduled to play Puerto Rico, Panama and the Netherlands in Puerto Rico in the first round of the tournament on March 7-10.

Australia play exhibition game with Red Sox

Flag of Australia
The Australia team of World Baseball Classic will train at Fort Myers and play an exhibition game on March 5 with Boston Red Sox.

Australia, who won the silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, will hold a training camp at the Red Sox’s minor league base in Fort Myers, Florida from March 3-6. The Aussie will play against Red Sox in an exhibition game at 6:05 p.m. on Sunday, March 5 at City of Palms Park.

Tickets will be half-price, as the games for the Red Sox with college on March 3, are available online at or by calling (617) 482-4SOX. The City of Palms Park ticket office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Adrian Burnside, Trent Durrington, Justin Huber, John Stephens and Glenn Williams have agreed to join World Baseball Classic for Australia.

Australia is managed by Jon Deeble, the Red Sox coordinator for Pacific Rim scouting, will play against Italy on March 7th, Venezuela on March 9th and DominicanRepublic on March 10th.

Cuban defectors organize

Numerous Cuban-born baseball players who defected to the United States said they are forming an association and will fight to be allowed to play in professional tournaments, include World Baseball Classic next March.

Because U.S. Treasury Department denied a license that would allow Cuba to participate World Baseball Classic, Cuban national team can not complete the inaugural 16-nation tournament.

Due to the commissioner’s office of Major League Baseball, in agreement with the International Federation Baseball and the MLB Players’ Association, they will not allow any independent teams to play in the WBC.

Even so, players who have major league experience include Rene Arocha and Osvaldo Fernandez, met with U.S. representatives Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart and unveiled their plans to form the association and send letters to Major League Baseball, the player’s union and President Bush asking that they be allowed to represent Cuba.

“We represent Cuban baseball because we were born, were raised with and played that baseball in Cuba,” Eddie Oropesa, who has played for the Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres, said. “But because professional baseball is not allowed in Cuba we had to defect and leave our families behind and begin a new life.”

The players and representatives said they have at least 30 professionals who would form the team. Although they were not present, Washington Nationals pitchers Livan Hernandez and Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Orlando Hernandez, support the idea.

“Cuban baseball players are only asking to have the same rights as other major leaguers, and to be able to participate in the World Classic and other such events,” said Cuban-American Diaz-Balart. “It would be totally unacceptable and an act of discrimination if these Cuban players do not have the chance of taking part in the World Classic.”

“MLB is willing to violate its own rules to support a terrorist government like Cuba’s, who made professional baseball disappear more than 40 years ago. The World Classic is a tournament for professional teams,” said Diaz-Balart.

“Cuban baseball players have put together a good idea by proposing to create this association, but they will not be able to participate in this year’s World Classic with such a team,” said Lou Melendez, vice president of Major League Baseball. “The tournament is sanctioned by the International Federation, of which Cuba is a member. The International Federation will not approve of any unofficial team”.

“Inviting a team other than the national team would bring that sanctioning into question,” Paul Archey, Major League Baseball’s senior vice president for international business said. Officials are still hoping that Cuba could be allowed to play. “We are in communication with the Cuba baseball federation as well as the Department of Treasury to try to address that concern.”

“It is completely irrational,” Lazaro Herrera Martinez, a spokesman for the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C., said earlier. “For us, baseball is our national sport … it is an activity that has nothing to do with politics.”

Observers think their effort is a long shot. ”It would be very unusual for there to be two groups that have the designation from the international federation to manage that sport in a given country,” Darryl Seibel, a spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee told the Miami Herald. The U.S. Olympic Committee recognizes the same international certification procedures that will govern the baseball tournament.

Cuba offers to donate tournament money

According to Reuters, Cuba said it would donate any money received from World Baseball Classic to Hurricane Katrina victims if the U.S. Government reverses a controversial decision to deny Cuba’s participation.

Fidel Castro had given the go-ahead permission for Cuba to participate the inaugural World Baseball Classic. But Cuba would have needed a special license from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba.

The United States Government denied Major League Baseball a license that would allow Cuba to play in the inaugural World Baseball Classic. The decision got protests from the U.S. Olympic Committee, Major League Baseball, numerous politicians and others.

Based on the regulation of tournament, Cuba would get the 1 percent of tournament revenues and 5 percent if it won, that is not allowed by U.S. Treasury Department.

“The Cuban baseball federation, in an effort to find options, would be ready for the money corresponding to its participation in the classic to go to the victims of Hurricane Katrina left homeless in New Orleans,” the federation said in a letter to Major League Baseball.

Cuba labeled the Bush administration as “shameful” and “absurd” and “having nothing to do with sports.”

During second day of regular sessions of the Cuba’s National Assembly, Fidel Castro said that the Bush administration was wrong to deny Cuba to participate World Baseball Classic next spring.

“He is very much a fool,” Castro said of Bush. “He doesn’t know who the Cuban baseball players are, or that they are Olympic and world champions. If he knew, he would know something about this country’s government.”

Antonio Munoz, a businessman who agreed to pay millions of dollars to bring the games to Puerto Rico, thinks the Treasury Department will reverse its decision. “All efforts are being made to get Cuba to come and participate and I think we will succeed,” Munoz said.

Below is the Full Letter of Cuban Baseball to MLB by Prensa Latina translation.

Havana, Cuba, December 14, 2005

Mr. Paul Archey

First Vice President

Major League Baseball, Inc.

New York, USA

Dear Mr. Archey:

This afternoon, Wednesday, December 14, we received a fax from your office informing us that the Office of Foreigner Activities Control (OFAC), in a letter from its director Robert Warner, refused the Cuban National Team´s participation in the World Baseball Classic.

The reasons alleged by the aforementioned office for the refusal are based on those established in the shameful Treasury Department Regulation 31 CFR, part 515, re: control of Cuban Assets.

For any person halfway rational, such a decision is absurd and arbitrary. Rage and political obstinacy make it impossible once again for the world to enjoy a truly representative display of universal baseball.

How can one speak of a World Baseball Classic in which the Cuban Olympic and World Championship team is not represented?

We defend baseball and its significance for our people.

We cannot allow ourselves to be dragged along by the ultraconservatives characterizing the present United States government.

Once again we are open to seek solutions and ways to evaluate possible participation of our team.

It is not for the money that the OFAC puts forward as the motive for our interest in competing. We are a federation from a poor but dignified country; our only plan is to cooperate so that baseball continues developing and achieves inclusion again in the Olympic program in the near future. We never compete for money.

The Cuban Baseball Federation, in order to offer options, would be willing to donate the proceeds corresponding from its participation in the Classic to:

The victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

My dear Mr. Archey, we wish to say that we appreciate the ethical position of the Major League and the Association of Major League Players with respect to the possible participation of Cuba in the Classic.

We will be awaiting your response.


Carlos Rodriguez Acosta


Cuban Baseball Federation

Cuba, a powerhouse of amateur baseball, won the gold medal for baseball at the 1992, 1996 and 2004 Olympics, falling to the United States in the finals at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Matt Galante manages Italy

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe Baseball Federation of Italy announced that Matt Galante will be their manager for the inaugural World Baseball Classic next spring

The coaching staff of Italian team will include all-time left-hander saves record keeper John Franco as pitching coach, 2004 Athens Olympics skipper Giampiero Faraone as assistant manager, former big-league shortstop Gary DiSarcina; European scout for the Seattle Mariners Mauro Mazzotti, and 1984 Olympics Italy coach Jim Mansilla.

Galante, from New York, currently acting as special assistant to general manager Tim Purpura, has spent 23-year with Houston Astros. He was approached by Major League Baseball in June to manage the Italian team, and once he received permission from Purpura, Galante decided to lead Italy.

“It’s kind of exciting because it’s a new thing,” Galante said. “Major League Baseball is 100 percent behind it, so that’s a good thing.”

“My grandmother was born in Gaeta and told me a lot about our country of origin,” 1995 AL All-Star DiSarcina, who attended Italy’s annual baseball award ceremony on Dec. 8 and appeared open to further work with the Italian federation, said. “I would have never played in the big leagues if it weren’t for her support, and I believe it’s time for me to give something back to this country. You never know what’s going to happen when the tournament starts. Italy is going to compete; we are going to be a good team.”

Mazzotti has won league title in Italy with Bologna three times when he is a manager. He will manage the Champions of Europe for Grosseto of the Italian Series A League in 2006.

As the former Italian National Team head coach, Mansilla coached Italy in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. He is currently coaching at Miami Dade Junior College.

Preliminary rosters have not yet been announced, but it seems that several Italian-Americans from Major League Baseball are likely to be included on Italy’s team, include all-star catcher Mike Piazza.

“I don’t know if we have anyone else that can play his position,” Italian baseball federation president Riccardo Fraccari said. “He’s already working on his papers.”

Players who agree to participate in the World Baseball Classic with Italy team include Mike DiFelice, Frank Catalanotto, Mark DeRosa, David Dellucci, Tony Fiore, Mike Gallo, Jason Grilli, Matt Mantei, Frank Menechino, Doug Mirabelli, Val Pascucci, Joe Vitello and Pete Zoccolillo.

For outfielder Frank Catalanotto, who was selected to play for the Italian team even though he’s never been to Italy. The closest connection for Catalanotto is that his great-grandparents hail from Sicily. That was enough for Gene Orza, the players’ association chief operating officer who is the representative of union for the tournament.

Orza telephoned Catalanotto in September to tell him he was on a list of players eligible to play for Italy. Infielder Frank Menechino also got a call.

The long time resident of Long Island, N.Y. says he and Menechino, who hails from nearby Staten Island, N.Y., realize baseball officials would be hard-pressed to field a competitive team of native Italians and aren’t worried about anyone questioning their true heritage.

“We’re Italians from New York,” Catalanotto said. “And Italians from New York are pretty proud to be Italians.”

Fraccari added that 33 locally based players would be sent to major league spring training in mid-February, and several of those players will be selected for Italy’s team.

There has been an “enormous amount of ticket requests” for the event within Italy. “Travel agencies are already organizing charter planes to go over,” Fraccari said.

“We’re hoping the others continue to work with us beyond the classic also,” Fraccari said, adding that the federation is trying to arrange an appearance by Galante and Piazza in Italy to promote the tournament.

The Italian squad will train at Lakeland on March 3 to 6; will begin to play against Australia on March 7, Venezuela on March 8, and Dominican Republic on March 9 at the Disney sports complex.

More vioce from different place

From Mike Bauman of “Give baseball fans the gift of Cuba, It’s time to remember that the WBC is about a game”

“This isn’t the Cuban Missile Crisis any more. Cuba is no longer part of the Big Red Menace, “just 90 miles from our shores.” ”

“One of our primary “allies” in the Middle East is also, as a matter of public record, among the primary worldwide sponsors of terrorism. But if Saudi Arabia played baseball, you can bet that its team would be welcomed into this tournament with open arms. ”

“And for years we’ve been cozying up to the Chinese government, the same government that is still chasing down protestors in the streets. These guys make Fidel Castro look like a moderate Republican.”

“On the other side of the issue, the one thing for certain that you can say on behalf of Castro is that he likes baseball. He runs a baseball-playing nation. This is an essential difference between, for instance, Castro and Joseph Stalin, or Castro and Adolph Hitler, or Castro and Saddam Hussein. All three of those other guys were, one way or another, anti-ball.”

“Some issues should be larger than partisan politics. And the World Baseball Classic should be one of those issues. This is not about every country in the tournament meeting our seemingly exacting, but apparently fluctuating, standards for what constitutes our kind of country. This is about allowing the 16 leading baseball nations in the world to participate.”

“So we don’t like Castro’s politics. So we don’t like Castro’s beard. So we don’t like Castro’s anti-American attitudes. If that last one is a criterion for participation, then — oops — it looks like Venezuela can’t play either, because their lead guy is also no pal of the USA. You keep applying political considerations to a sporting event, and pretty soon, there is no sporting event.”

“If Cuba is allowed to play in the World Baseball Classic, the result will be good for baseball. And if the result is good for baseball? Bingo. It is also good for America. Case closed. Merry Christmas.”

From Richard Rapaport of San Francisco Chronicle, “The edict by the Treasury Department … is no minor error.”

“The silliest thing about this latest bit of foul-ball diplomacy is that baseball is exactly the weak spot through which to successfully attack Fidel and his red brigades.”

“Bringing Major League Baseball to Cuba would bring a whole new focus and dynamic to American relations with Latin America. It would be a dreadful shame to allow an aging embargo and a bunch of equally aging Castro-hating Cuban Americans to get in the way of what could be one of the great, and, for a change, utterly bloodless bits of nation-building in decades.”

From Sir Ronald Sanders of Antigua Sun, “American lovers of baseball – a game whose following knows no bounds of colour, creed or class – will be especially annoyed over the latest anti-Castro move to ban a Cuban team from participating next March in the Inaugural World Baseball Classic.”

Form Malcom Lagauche of, “boycott the tournament”

“This is a first. Even during the Cold War, national and club teams from eastern Europe or the Soviet Union played against teams from western Europe. On the ball field, political animosity was left behind.”

“This decision came as a surprise to everyone in the baseball community. There is absolutely no justification. Paranoia is striking deeper and deeper into the U.S. culture.”

“The only thing the U.S. likes as much as power is money. I am sure that if the international baseball community struck at the purse strings of companies, such as Wilson and Rawlings, that manufacture baseball equipment, you would see the mostly apolitical management of the sporting goods firms quickly take Cuba’s side.”

From Key West Citizen,: “Play ball! It’s that simple. Just two words that everyone who enjoys the game of baseball can understand.”

“It’s a game. It’s an exchange of cultures. We’d like to think it’s not tied in to politics. But, like everything involving the interaction between the United States and our neighbors of 80 miles away, Cuba, it does. It does because the U.S. government says it does.”

“The embargo has not benefited either country. And neither should it intrude into athletics. Let them play. Let them play ball!”

From GREG COTE of Miami Herald: “The decision is being decried by members of the Cuban team, who say it is totally unfair to deprive them their opportunity to defect.”

From Devon O’Neil of Summit Daily, “Easily the most disappointing instance of U.S. politics colliding with sports occurred last week”

“The shame lies here: Cuba has one of – if not the – richest baseball pipelines in the world. Every time we see a big-name Cuban player defect to the U.S., he is inevitably snatched up by a premier major league team hungry to win. This tournament has the potential to be one of the most exciting sporting events in recent memory, and Cuba would add a ton of intrigue. Thus, because of politics, the sports fan suffers. …”

From Charleston Gazette: “HUBRIS and stupidity. We couldn’t have said it better.”

“What’s standing in the way is an ill-conceived federal law banning any activity that might contribute economically to the Castro regime — that and the Bush administration’s stubbornness.”

“The attempt to isolate Cuba is one of Washington’s most spectacular and long-lived policy failures. It accomplishes nothing, except perhaps to help Fidel Castro by confirming the image of the United States as a mean-spirited bogeyman.”

From ANA CARBONELL, chief of staff, U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Miami: “Using baseball to deceive”

“This is a 47-year struggle, not an endless chase. It is about freedom vs. oppression and democracy vs. tyranny. In such a struggle there are never easy solutions, only principles that are paramount regardless of the time it takes to fight for them or whether you are alone in defending them. ”

”Castro’s team not being able to compete in the World Baseball Classic would serve as a reminder that there are 11 million people, 90 miles from our shores, who are still not free. That would be a small ”price to pay” for such an important reminder. ”

From Nat Hentoff of Jewish World Review: “Major League Baseball’s foul ball”

“The terrorizing Cuban dictator disagrees. During a recent five-hour speech on Cuban television — a concise talk for Castro — he spoke of the World Baseball Classic’s tribute to Cuban athletes while excoriating those Cuban players now in our big leagues who have left the country to be free. Should they return, of course, they would be locked into Castro’s gulags for so many years that their playing days would be over — if indeed they even lived through the prisons’ brutal, dehumanizing conditions.”

“Major League Baseball and the players union are working to reverse that decision. But what a message to people around the world striving for freedom it would be if a team of free Cubans were to take the field in the World Baseball Classic. A number of Cuban players in this country are eager to do just that.”

“Have Selig and the Major League Baseball Players Association no sense of shame?”

From The Post and Courier: “Reverse bad call on Cuba”

“Some influential Cuban-Americans who understandably hate Castro would love to torment him by barring Cuba from the World Baseball Classic, and have succeeded – for now – in doing so. That’s a losing game.”

“Banning Cuba’s baseball team from this tournament would hurt Castro in one sense by depriving him of a chance to see his best going against the world’s best. Yet in a larger sense, it would help Castro by again allowing him to play the victim of the counterproductive U.S. embargo policy.”

From Frank Deford of Sports Illustrated, “American dictators”

“Some Americans simply cannot accept the notion that somewhere, somehow Cuba might make a couple lousy Yankee dollars.”

“In a way, this posture is even more distasteful than when those anti-Semitic countries refuse to play Israel. At least those nations have the strength of their convictions sufficient to take themselves out of the games. We’re just being a bully. No, it’s our bat and our ball, and you can’t play.”

“If our dim, short-sighted government maintains this stance, there is only one reasonable alternative. All of the players in the tournament, from China to Venezuela, from the Netherlands to Australia, from Canada to the Dominican Republic . . . and yes from wherever our own players come from in these United States of America — all of these athletes must stand together in support of their baseball brethren of Cuba and tell the United States government: we’re out. Everybody plays baseball or nobody plays baseball.”

From Tom Timmerman of ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, “This is one of those cases where politics and rules go too far.”

“We’re talking about a baseball tournament. We’re talking about a sporting event. These are the things that, we like to say, bring people together. Yes, some money will be going from America to a government that many, though certainly not all, strongly disagree with. But it also seems that there is much to be gained. If we can play table tennis with China, we can find a way to play baseball with Cuba.”

From Portsmouth Herald, “This is hypocrisy and hubris of the highest order.”

“Cuba is a beleaguered, impoverished country, and we are no longer fighting the Cold War. If a poor state like Maine and a poor country like Cuba can strike a deal that is beneficial to the residents of both places, we say more power to them.”

From Midland Reporter-Telegram, “Best solution is to take politics out of sports”.

“This is a bit like taking Brazil out of the World Cup competition. This tournament might be that big in a few years. We have seen politics muck up sports before. We don’t need politics in sports. What we need is the best against the best regardless of their political leanings. Haven’t we already messed up enough Olympic Games with politics? We don’t need it here.”

“The best way to avoid the best is by not playing the best. No matter how you look at it, Cuba is a sad example of where we stand on the world front in both sports and politics.”

From Dayn Perry of, “WBC’s credibility undermined without Cuba”.

“So don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is some noble stand for human rights on the part of the U.S.; rather, it’s a punitive measure toward a regime whose economic policies don’t benefit the American private sector.”

“So what they’re doing is pointlessly dragging politics into what should be a celebration of baseball as a global phenomenon. The WBC was poised to become the greatest international baseball tournament in the annals of the game, but because of the witless meddling of the powers that be, Cuba’s team won’t be a part of it.”

“If the Treasury Department had a scintilla of respect for the game of baseball and even a vague understanding of how their policies affect the hoi polloi of Cuba, they’d beat a hasty retreat from their wrongheaded mandate. ”

“But cynicism — and realism — says they won’t. If there’s a message they should hear, it’s this: keep your craven partisanships to yourself, and let the rest of us enjoy the World Baseball Classic as it should be — with Cuba in the fray.”

From Reading Eagle, “Politics and sports don’t mix. Let the Cubans play.”

“Granted, but there is no indication that such a decision is going to have any impact on that island nation, which has been under the authoritarian thumb of Fidel Castro for nearly 50 years.”

“The World Baseball Classic would have been an excellent opportunity for America to regain at least a small measure of standing by welcoming the teams of 16 nations to a World Cup-type tournament with games to be played in the United States as well as Japan and Puerto Rico.”

From By RON AGOSTINI of The Modbee Bee, “Without Cuba, it’s not the World Baseball Classic.”

From Ronald Sanders of Jamaica Observer, “No homer for ban on Castro’s team”.

“Angelos may have summed up the views of many Americans who feel that it would have been exciting to see the competitive Cuban baseball team in action against other nations including their own, and that this ban simply serves no purpose other than to satisfy the wishes of a small but politically powerful group of Cuban exiles in the US.”

From Rep. Jeff. Flake, R-Ariz: “Our baseball team is better than their baseball team,” Flake said.

“What sense does it make for the U.S to punish Cuba for denying freedom to its citizens by ourselves denying Cuban citizens the freedom to travel to our country?” Flake asked in a news release.

“We ought to take every opportunity available to expose Cubans to the freedoms and liberties of our country.”

From LINDA ROBERTSON of Miami Herald, “A decision that alienates all”

“Why would the U.S. government, which professes empathy with the oppressed Cuban people, snub its nose at them? Once again, the U.S. government has made a clumsy, petty decision that only alienates Cubans, baffles the rest of the world and delights Fidel Castro.”

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