The Spectacle Blog

International Baseball Flap

By on 12.12.05 | 9:11AM

Tickets go on sale today for the World Baseball Classic, Major League Baseball's long-promised international tournament. It will field teams from 16 countries into four pools with the semifinal and championship games in San Diego in late March.

As I scanned the country list, I noticed Chinese Taipei as well as China. The real controversy, it turns out, is over the Cuban team, Meghan Clyne reports in the New York Sun. Cuban-Americans are upset that Castro will be staffing the team. My first inclination is to let him send his best players to Puerto Rico (Cuba's first two pool locations) and then to San Diego. That allows ample opportunity for defections.

However, Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Ballart is convincing: with 22 Cubans in the "bigs" and 62 in the minor leagues, MLB could easily compile an exile Cuban team. Further, as Diaz-Ballart wrote to Bud Selig, MLB wouldn't have dared to invite a team from South Africa during apartheid. And Castro makes it difficult for these players to defect, surrounding them with security and requiring their families to remain in Cuba until their return.

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