Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Thank God for Ross Newhan making the LA Times sports section readable. Today he gives us a nice article on Preston Gomez, who has served as consigliere for the Angels for the last 24 years.

Newhan uses Gomez as an entry point into how alleged baseball fan Fidel Castro has succeeded in severely limiting the number of Cuban-born ballplayers who can play in the States. Though it might seem that this is a minimal crime compared to some of Fidel's others, the restriction on emigration is central to the paranoid control Castro exercises over the country; it's the same sort of thought process that leads to the suppression of free speech, the denial of legitimate elections, and other violations of human rights.

Gomez, like so many Cubans that have been dispersed since the revolution, mourns what Cuba has become, and rightly points out that the country suffers from its native players being barred from returning home: "In almost every case, the players who defect want to come back and live in their homeland, play in their homeland, during the winter .... If the Hernandez brothers [Orlando and Livan] were allowed to pitch against each other in Havana during the winter, 50,000 people would be there. Baseball should be a resource in Cuba. Instead, players are finding ways to leave, and Cuba gets nothing in return."

I have no desire to turn this into a political discussion of the whys and wherefores of US-Cuba relations, and will not comment on same; but Preston Gomez turns 82 years old one month from today, and there are certainly others of his age and experience who may not live to see their home country become prosperous and free. We can only pray that Gomez and others like him out-live the oppression of their homeland, and can witness a turn for the better.

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