What hasn't been widely noticed is that the large Cuban national population in Florida, a backbone of Jeb Bush's political support in the all-important Miami area, is stridently opposed to Cuba's participation in the games.
The president is loath to upset those anti-Castro Cubans and cause brother Jeb some political problems by overturning his Treasury Department's decision.
The baseball decision is just one in a series of increasingly harsh actions this administration has taken against Cubans. As many from Madison involved in humanitarian activities have come to know, it's hard even to get medicine and other supplies to the country these days because of the rift with Castro.
One would think that a country like ours could rise above playing petty politics with baseball games no less. But that's obviously becoming more than one can expect.
And Tommy Lasorda, who managed the Dodgers for a couple of decades, and led a collection of minor leaguers and college players to the gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in an upset of Cuba, says in an interview with the Japan Times that Cuba's participation in the tournament is "vital" and their continued exclusion would be "tragic." There's a lot of concern that if the WBC collapses, baseball's hope for returning to the Olympic Games in 2016 is a lost cause.
To bring up a saying from the dark depths of my childhood memories, this is an administration that would cut off its nose to spite its own face.
While we're talkin' baseball, congratulations to Bruce Sutter on election to the Hall of Fame. Bruce is only the fourth reliever to get this honor (after Hoyt Wilhelm, Dennis Eckersley, & Rollie Fingers, all of whom spent some time as starters), and one of the pioneers in the closer role.
Now, i have to say i'm not a big fan of what the "relief specialist" has done to the game of baseball. My baseball formative years are the 1960s, and i can't imagine Gibson, Drysdale, or Marichal warming up in the bullpen before a game thinking to themselves, "I'll go 6 innings, hold the other team close, and give my guys a chance to win." They went out knowing they were going to shut the other guys down. And guess what? They had to. Want to know the most remarkable thing about Gibson's 68 season? It's not the 28 complete games out of 34 started (8.9 innings per game average!), the 1.12 ERA, the 268 strikeouts against 267 baserunners allowed. No, the amazing thing is that despite all of that, he still lost 9 freakin' games. Take away the 13 complete game shutouts, and Gibson is a 9-9 pitcher with a 1.85 ERA for the rest of the year. Keeping your team close and giving them a chance to win was a .500 proposition for Gibson in 1968, just as it's been for Jeff Weaver throughout a disappointingly mediocre career. The only difference is that Weaver thinks his mediocrity is worth another raise this year.