By Swing Completo/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The President of the Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB for its Spanish acronyms) Juan Reinaldo Pérez Pardo released several important news related to the 23U National Championship and the first installment of the Elite League.
However, the most transcendental of the day and among the most remarkable of 2022 news for Cuban baseball, was left aside in his intervention on the Island’s national television.
On Thursday morning there was a meeting by videoconference between officials of Major League Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation. The information came from a direct source and was confirmed through two different channels, including people from both parties who are directly related to the issue.
In the virtual exchange, the most significant held since the era of the short-lived agreement between Cuba and the Major Leagues, several points of interest were addressed that could suggest a new starting point in relations between the two parties.
One of the main ones had to do with the Cuban national team that will participate in the next World Baseball Classic to be held in March 2023. Perhaps because of the proximity of the event and because of how much the topic of the Cuban team for the top competition of international baseball has sounded, it has to be considered as the most important point in the meeting (MLB is co-organizer of the event along with the World Baseball and Softball Confederation).
According to sources, Cuba has the firm intention of launching a call for non-FCB players, including those who belong to Major League Baseball organizations.
It was all expressed to the U.S. officials, although it was not detailed if there will be any kind of restrictions. This is mainly due to what has been publicly raised by the Island’s executives about the refusal to summon those who have defected in international competitions or others because of their political stance in social networks.
The MLB committed to make the mechanism related to the permission of the clubs to which the players who are part of the Major League and Minor League system belong viable. Logically, some special cases of recovery from an injury, fatigue or other health situations would be left to the decision of the team. The same has historically happened with the rest of the countries within the WBC, including the very Team USA.
Beyond the issue related to the World Classic, other points were addressed more generally, among them the future possibility of having a formal cooperation agreement between the two governing bodies. Yet, this would take more time and would go through other much more complex components, especially concerning politics.
Both parties were quite content with the meeting, although it is clear that for Cuba it is much more urgent to find a solution to situations that are economically unsustainable.
And also in sports, due to the impressive exodus of talent even before they reach the age of majority, which affects both domestic and international tournaments, in both cases in a more complex situation every day.
With regard to the external aspect, the closest thing is also the most transcendent in terms of baseball competition at the national team level, and there not even the most optimistic bet on a favorable result with a team that does not have a good representation of Cubans who perform brilliantly in the best baseball stage in the world.
Cuba is part of Pool A, which will be played in Taiwan. The Netherlands, Italy and one of the qualifiers from the tournament in Germany will also be in the group. For most, it is the weakest field, but even so, few consider that with the same philosophy of team integration, the struggle will be not to be last in order to avoid being in a WBC Qualifier for the first time going to the 2026 issue.
Not long ago MLB, headed by Commissioner Rod Manfred, had met with the recently created Association of Cuban Professional Ballplayers (ACPBP). The World Baseball Classic had been the main point of the exchange, in which they talked about the impossibility that Cubans playing in the United States have had to represent their country due to Cuba’s politics.
Possibly that official video meeting has had the influence of what happened on Thursday, although we should bear in mind that the Association was asking to organize a selection that was independent from the FCB, and not that the MLB intercede for the players to attend under the aegis of Cuba. Although in the end that idea did not come to fruition because in the events organized by International Federations, it is the National Federations that are validated to represent the countries.
And the other thing is that according to one of our sources directly connected with the subject, the dialogue held this Thursday morning had been planned for some months.
We will have to finally see how the WBC call-up process develops, if there are regulations, and which players would agree to play for the FCB taking into account that a large number of them gave their support to Cuba Independiente at the time.
Time will tell what the real outcome of what happened on Thursday will be, if everything will remain the same or if there will be a real team, without discrimination of any kind, where the only thing that matters is sporting quality and physical shape.