According to New York Suns, lots of Cuban-American ballplayers, including Livan and Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, will meet in Miami to form an independent association for free Cuban players.
The Federacion de beisbol profesional de Cuba, or the Cuban Professional Baseball Federation, will provide voice for Cuban-American ballplayers who feel uniquely excluded from World Baseball Classic and other international competitions, the organizer Omar Claro said.
World Baseball Classic tournament invited 16 members of the International Baseball Federation, including Cuba. However the Treasury Department denied permission to allow the Cuban team to play last week.
Before the Treasury Department’s decision, Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, a Republican of Florida, had written to Commissioner Bud Selig, asking that the 22 Cuban-American players in the major leagues, and the 62 players in the minor leagues, be allowed to compete for a free Cuba, but the suggestion has been rejected by Major League Baseball.
Anyway, Eddie Oropeza of the San Diego Padres and sports anchor for Miami’s Univision station Omar Claro, started to reach out Cuban-American players in the major and minor leagues to confirm their opinion, and find the overwhelming majority of players supported this idea.
Other confirmed players include Livan and Orlando Hernandez, former Chicago Cubs shortstop Rey Ordonez, former pitcher for Cincinnati Reds Osvaldo Fernandez. Based on Claro, those players will likely join the federation, and there were enough different positions players to form a complete team.
But World Baseball Classic official said that if Cuba cannot play, another country will be invited instead of allowing a team of free Cubans due to team must be organized by national federations.
The new group being formed in Miami this week, Claro said, would constitute a new federation, playing for a “free Cuba”. Even if the “team” is not allowed to play in the World Baseball Classic, Claro said, it will still provide organizational backing for future international competitions, and will work to encourage players in Cuba to seek freedom in America.
It will also serve as a needed voice for the Cuban-American players, Claro said, felt betrayed by the players’ union, which last week issued a joint statement with Major League Baseball supporting the participation of Castro’s Cuba over the objections of Cuban-American players.
The new group will also serve as a symbol for the struggle for Cuba’s liberty, Mr. Claro said. “It’s for justice,” he said of the federation.
Diaz-Balart, who will meet with the group, said: “What we’re going to try to do is let the world know that Cuban players have rights, too.” He was joined this weekend by several members of Congress, who wrote to Selig urging him to reconsider his opposition to a free Cuban team.
Rep. Christopher Smith, a Republican of New Jersey, said that he would probably introduce “sense of the Congress” legislation supporting free Cuban participation in the World Baseball Classic. “This is a dictatorship, one of the worst in the world, and we cannot just act as if things are business as usual when it comes to such an egregious violator of human rights,” Smith said.
According to the Washington Times, Diaz-Balart said. “They are organizing and want to play together as a team.” “These Cuban players are the only ones in the major and minor leagues who can’t play for their country of origin,”
“The players union, which is supposed to be representing these players, is just following the company line of Major League Baseball, which in turn is doing what Castro wants. That is a sick policy.” Diaz-Balart also said. “All other national baseball associations want major leaguers to play for their teams.”
“But because Castro says they are nonpersons because they defected or their families left Cuba, now these players have no rights. I think that is ridiculous.”
It is possible major leaguers of Cuban heritage who were born in the United States — like former Baltimore Oriole Rafael Palmeiro — could participate as well. It is not clear where the rest of the players would come from to field a team.