Entertainment

Trump Put A Stop To The MLB And Cuban Baseball Federation Deal And Here’s Why It Matters

The Trump administration on Monday canceled a deal that would have made it easier for Cuban baseball players to compete professionally in the U.S. The nixed deal is a reversal of a policy from former President Obama’s administration created to soften relations between the U.S. and Cuba. The Trump administration saw different as they argued that the sport’s governing body is part of the Cuban government and the deal would have violated U.S. trade law. The deal, which would have run through October 2021, allowed Cuban players to sign with teams under similar rules as other international players from Japan and South Korea.

Players who were over 25 years old would be free to sign with organizations that paid a “release fee” to a Cuban baseball club.

The U.S. economic embargo on Cuba currently denies Americans from doing business with Cuba’s government. The Obama administration’s ruling had cleared a pathway for an agreement between Major League Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation reached late last year.

The deal was designed to allow Cuban baseball players to join U.S. baseball teams without having to defect, which was standard in previous years.
The Obama administration hoped that the policy would create a system where Cuban players would no longer have to defect from the Cuban government, which commonly involved dangerous journeys at the hands of human smugglers.

“Establishing a safe, legal process for entry to our system is the most important step we can take to ending the exploitation and endangerment of Cuban players who pursue careers in Major League Baseball,” Tony Clark, executive director for the MLB players’ union in a statement back in December.

Just last week the Cuban federation released its first group of players able to sign contracts with MLB organizations, and some were expected to be playing in the U.S. this year.

Cuba has produced some of MLB’s biggest stars. Many of them defected on their own and faced deadly circumstances to make it here.

Among the most notable recent players that have defected from Cuba are
Jose Abreu, Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes. All have had well documented stories of their defections from Cuba and the perilous journeys they took to get to the U.S.

MLB sent a letter to the Treasury and State Departments, outlining the purpose of its agreement and the stories of players that have defected. MLB even requested a meeting with government officials, though no meeting was ever granted.

The cancelled deal has gotten criticism from the Cuban Baseball Federation and advocates who say Cuban players will be further placed in danger.

Many in the baseball community see the canceled deal as a major blow to incoming talent and puts more players at risk. MLB said on Monday that their primary goal is to “end the human trafficking of baseball players from Cuba.”

The Cuban Baseball Federation spoke out on Twitter about the disappointment of the reversed policy. They said the “politically motivated attacks on the deal hurt players, their families, and fans.”

The canceled policy is also a political win Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who fought the deal between MLB and the Cuban Baseball Federation. Rubio challenged the policy saying it was in the benefit of the Cuban government rather then in the interest of the baseball players.

“The reason Cuban baseball players have to escape & seek asylum to play in America is not U.S. law or policy The reason is the Cuban govt won’t let them leave to play here,” Rubio said on Twitter.

What’s next for Cuban baseball players that want to play for MLB?

Without a policy in place, Cuban players may have to return to defection which could continue the dangerous trend of smuggling. Overall, this is a huge blow to Cuban players and an even bigger one to the game of baseball.

One of the players who defected from Cuba is New York Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman. Chapman, who spoke with media on Monday, said the news is a blow to the many young aspiring Cuban players who want to come to MLB.

“It is definitely a sensitive topic, so many things behind it. Anytime you are talking about baseball and politics, it’s a very sensitive subject. But, I just feel bad for those young ball players, who are probably not going to have the same chance to play here,” Chapman said through Yankees’ interpreter Marlin Abreu. “It’s definitely difficult for a lot of Cuban players playing at this level here in the States. The way we got here was, it was tough, to say the least.

One thing is for sure, the cancelled policy would have created more opportunities for younger players and allowed them to avoid the dangerous and costly process of defecting. This now leaves many players in Cuba searching for answers on how to move forward with their major league aspirations.

READ: 21 Latino Baseball Players That Are Poised To Make An Impact This Season

President Trump Might Deny National Guard Benefits By Ending Deployment One Day Early

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President Trump Might Deny National Guard Benefits By Ending Deployment One Day Early

nationalguard / Instagram

One of the key elements of a response to a national crisis is the deployment of the National Guard. The servicemen and women have been working tirelessly since COVID-19 started to spread in the U.S. President Donald Trump, who touts his love of the military, delivered a saddening blow to the National Guard.

President Trump’s order deploying the National Guard to combat COVID-19 is set to expire on June 24.

Politico reported Tuesday that 40,000 National Guard virus workers will face a “hard stop” of services on June 24. The end comes after the guards spend 89 days working with the public to keep the nation safe during the deadly pandemic. Military families and advocates are not happy with the possible end to the mission of assisting states in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic after 89 days.

If troops are told to go home after 89 days, Pres. Trump will deprive them of deserved benefits.

Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, service members who serve 90 days of active duty are eligible for early retirement and educational benefits. The June 24 deadline means that the guards deployed in March will only spend 89 days on active duty. While the deadline looms and gets more attention, a National Guard spokesperson said that a decision on the deadline is yet to come.

Governors across the country are asking the Trump administration to extend the deadline to protect public health.

States like Texas are quickly reopening their economies and the result has been a noticeable increase in cases and the highest single-day death count for the state. States like New York and New Jersey are seeing their numbers fall after months of social distancing and self-isolation.

According to Politico, states are concerned that the Trump administration removing the troops from the states could lead to a second wave. Many of the state leaders are asking for the Trump administration to extend the deadline by months.

The National Guard is involved in the hard work of keeping communities safe and stopping the spread of COVID-19.

The soldiers have been disinfecting and cleaning nursing homes, building and working field hospitals to manage influxes, and providing testing to people. National Guards service members are eligible for retirement at 60 with a full pension is they serve for 20 years. For every 90 days, they can move up retirement by three months and are eligible for 40 percent off tuition with the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Critics argue that the Trump administration intentionally set the deadline for 89 days to prevent the soldiers to collect the benefits owed to them.

“It seemed kind of weird to me,” retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson, president of the National Guard Association, told Politico. “It’s a Wednesday. And it also coincides with 89 days of deployment for any soldiers who went on federal status at the beginning. I was getting all kind of calls about it and I said, ‘It’s probably just a coincidence.’ But in the back of my mind, I know better. They’re screwing the National Guard members out of the status they should have.”

READ: Tributes To Nurses Flood Social Media In Honor Of National Nurses Day

Residente Tried Out For The Chicago Cubs And Javy Báez Was There To Coach Him

Entertainment

Residente Tried Out For The Chicago Cubs And Javy Báez Was There To Coach Him

MLB / YouTube

Residente and Javier “Javy” Báez playing baseball is the kind of sporting moment we needed.

MLB is rolling out an original series on YouTube and it will give you a chance to see some celebrities take to the field and try their stuff. “The Tryout” started May 18 and the first celebrity up to bat is Puerto Rican rap superstar René “Residente” Pérez Joglar. The show merges both baseball and entertainment in a new and fun way. The show is centered around baseball because, well, MLB, however, it does create special moments of the athletes and celebrities. There is an ease to their conversations that is akin to an interview but just feels like a conversation between friends.

Now, Residente was pretty confident in his abilities to play the game. After all, he has spent his life playing the sport because it is one of his favorite hobbies. Though he tried to temper everyone’s expectations, Residente did say that he would do decent at tryouts. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the “Atréve-Te-Te” singer played catch, caught some ground balls, and batted. Yet, the conversations they had about the best Latino baseball players and their beloved Puerto Rico are where the magic happened.

While warming up, Residente and Báez spoke about Hurricane Maria. It has been three years since the hurricane devastated the Caribbean island they both call home. Maria left millions of American citizens living in Puerto Rico without power, running water, and essential services for many months. When the hurricane happened, Báez and Residente knew that they had to do something.

Residente and Báez swapped stories about where they were during the hurricane and what they did in response. Residente was on tour in Chile and Argentina when the 2017 hurricane killed thousands of people. He immediately went into action and began collecting supplies the people of Puerto Rico needed and sent it all by military plane.

Báez had a similar reaction. The Chicago Cubs player was playing a game when the hurricane hit Puerto Rico. Báez wanted to do something so he was able to convince his manager to send some help. At first, Báez said his manager was concerned he was going to try to go to Puerto Rico but he told the manager that wasn’t possible so they collected supplies and sent them by plane to the people.

There are more episodes of “The Tryout” coming to YouTube soon.

READ: Javier Báez Of The Chicago Cubs Shows Off Athletic Physique In ESPN’s Body Issue