By Swing Completo/ email@example.com
The Association of Cuban Professional Baseball Players has gained momentum in the past week. It continues to aim for the inclusion of Cuba’s top players for an international tournament like the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
One of its founders, Orlando “El Duque” Hernández, has said that about 60 players have joined the project. There was also a strong debate about the controversial statement made by José Abreu, who at first declined to be part of the team.
Since 2014, none of the official mainstream media, let along national television, has given credit to the feats by one of the best Cuban baseball players in the Major Leagues… and those accomplishments have not been just a handful.
“Pito” has since then won the American League Rookie of the Year Award (2014), as well as an All-Star selection that year. He has been to two other All-Star Games (2018 and 2019).
On top of it all, in 2020 he managed the most important individual award of an MLB player, when he was named Most Valuable Player. Besides, he has won three Silver Slugger Awards and since his debut he has been named MLB Player of the Week and Player of the Month multiple times.
Last March 29, the show “Con Filo”, of Cubadebate, made a reproduction of an interview the Chicago White Sox first baseman granted to Ernesto Jerez of ESPN Deportes. In the interview, Abreu said: “There is talk about a team that the people of Miami want to make and I said I am not in that Miami team because I respect the players who are in Cuba.”
Both the anchorman and guest speaker Joel García, deputy director of the Trabajadores weekly newspaper, used the fragment of the first sacker’s refusal to be a part of the Association with the long-standing story of the many justifications that have alienated Cuban professional ballplayers from being part of the Cuban National Team. Let’s not forget the most recent case we had with Henry Urrutia for the Olympic qualifier last year: he was initially called to be a part of the team, and then was rejected because he stated that he was not playing for Cuban Baseball Federation President Higinio Vélez, but for Cuba and his father Ermidelio Urrutia.
The “fortunate” return of Abreu to Cuban National Television, and on top of it all, not with his bat and glove, caused anger among hundreds of Cubans, including former Industriales and MLB pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne, who now plays in the Korea Baseball Organization with the reigning champions, the KT Wiz.
Hasta hoy la televisión cubana nunca había puesto en pantalla a Pito Abreu desde q salió, y mira q José Dariel ha ganado títulos dentro d MLB incluyendo un MVP, hoy ponen la entrevista d la cual se retractó y disculpó por su voluntad. No tienen vergüenza #SOSCuba @beisprocuba 🇨🇺— Odrisamer Despaigne (@despa40) March 30, 2022
“To this date, Cuban television had never shown Pito Abreu since he left Cuba, and boy has he earned accolades in the MLB, including an MVP. today, they aired the interview he later changed his mind and apologized about, out of his own free will. That is outrageous,” said the 2021 Final Series MVP in Korea.
His comment was seconded by Cuban boxer Yordenis Ugás, who responded, “Unos descarados lo que son” (They have quite the nerve). Both the Santiago de Cuba boxer and the aforementioned players have been erased from Cuban national media, despite having earned several accomplishments as part of their professional careers, which, by the way, no Cuban who lives in the island has been able to enjoy.