March 11, 2006


Cubans absorb humiliating defeat (KEVIN BAXTER AND FRANCES ROBLES, 3/11/06, Miami Herald)

The only thing Cuba should have protested Friday was the final score.

Hours after threatening to pull out of the World Baseball Classic over a protest sign, Cuba was pounded by Puerto Rico 12-2 in a seven-inning game that, at its start, threatened to have a greater impact on politics than on sports.

But with Bernie Williams, Alex Cintron and Carlos Beltran hitting home runs, Puerto Rico quickly gave life -- at least on this night -- to the idea that Cuba could compete with a team of big-league stars, handing the island's powerful national team one of its most one-sided losses ever in a game that was stopped after seven innings by international baseball's mercy rule. [...]

That capped a long and emotional day that started early Friday morning with Cuba threatening to pull out of the 16-team competition after the head of its delegation was ejected from the stadium during a Thursday night game for confronting a spectator holding an anti-Castro sign.

Angel Iglesias, vice president of Cuba's National Institute of Sports, former national team shortstop Germán Mesa and two other delegation officials were escorted out of the ballpark by police after they set upon a protester waving a sign that read Abajo Fidel (Down With Fidel) before TV cameras transmitting the game to Cuba.

The silent protest by a small group of Cubans living in Puerto Ricans threatened to provoke an international incident, with Cuba's Communist Party newspaper Granma calling it ''a cowardly provocation'' and the island's Revolutionary Sports Movement organizing a demonstration against ''the cynical counterrevolutionary provocations.'' That drew hundreds of people, including star Cuban athletes, into the streets in front of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 11, 2006 8:02 AM

If Iglesias gets this upset about a banner and a silent protest, can you imagine this guy sitting in the right field bleachers at Yankee Stadium?

Posted by: John at March 11, 2006 12:51 PM

Good thing Cuba doesn't have to play in Miami, or the next time they took the field there would be 60,000 Cubans chanting "Abajo Fidel! Abajo Fidel!" and a couple hundred New Yorkers tossing batteries.

Posted by: Random Lawyer at March 11, 2006 8:52 PM