Political relations could improve Cuban baseball’s future

Cuba

Baseball is one of the most popular sports in Cuba, and for many years the country produced some of the most famous baseball players in the world. But Cuban baseball has taken a hit in recent years because of economic difficulties and the defection of top players to the U.S.

With the December announcement that the United States and Cuba will normalize relations, many are wondering will things change for Cuba’s favorite pass time. CCTV America’s correspondent Michelle Begue reported this story from Havana.

Political relations could improve Cuban baseball\'s future

Political relations could improve Cuban baseball\'s future

Baseball is one of the most popular sports in Cuba, and for many years the country produced some of the most famous baseball players in the world. But Cuban baseball has taken a hit in recent years because of economic difficulties and the defection of top players to the U.S. With the December announcement that the United States and Cuba will normalize relations, many are wondering will things change for Cuba's favorite pass time. CCTV America's correspondent Michelle Begue reported this story from Havana.

Cuban officials call it the “stealing of talent.” Over the past years, Cuban baseball players have defected to other countries in order to be picked up as free agents by United States Major League Baseball. Current Cuban laws allow some of their best players to sign overseas contracts. But the MLB cannot negotiate with the Cuban Baseball federation because of the 53-year-old economic embargo.

“Despite the stealing of talent, today Cuba has many players who are stars in the major leagues, so we expect that in the future – if the relations with the U.S. are re-established – a large amount of players can start to play for [US] Major League baseball,” Jose Antonio Castillo, Official Cuban Baseball Federation said.

In 2014, 16 major league players in the U.S. were from Cuba. Without the embargo, U.S. teams would be free to scout and sign Cuban players through the Cuban baseball federation as leagues in Japan, Mexico and Canada currently do. Cuban officials say their conditions state that player must be able to represent their national team during international sporting events, and the Cuban government also takes a cut of the contract.

Money that could go back into the sport, as some argue Cuban baseball has many financial needs. Cuban-American Barbara Rodriguez, CEO of Carrera Sports, hopes Cuba will one day be able to purchase top of the line equipment from their neighbor country.

“I think it is a shame, because baseball like I say is Cuba, and they deserve, the same type of wood bats the same type of equipment used world wide,” Rodriguez said.


Filmmaker Mario Diaz on Cuba’s baseball

CCTV America interviewed Mario Diaz, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and editor, about baseball in Cuba.

Filmmaker Mario Diaz on Cuba\'s baseball

Filmmaker Mario Diaz on Cuba\'s baseball

CCTV America interviewed Mario Diaz, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and editor, about baseball in Cuba.