Yulieski Gourriel, a Cuban native, told Yahoo Sports "This is the dream of all players - to play at the maximum level of baseball in all the world." Gourriel was asked which team he would play for and his immediate response was the Yankees, where he could play alongside his favorite player, ARod. But, there is a catch!
Gourriel will not come to the United States until the embargo on Cuba has been lifted, and he receives permission from the Cuban Government. I had to do a little bit of research on this. I wasn't born when President Kennedy put the embargo in place, and by the time I was born, it was kind of a social norm that was accepted and not really discussed. Heck, I'll be real honest here... I didn't even know why the embargo was in place, or what the heck it was until today. Thanks for this assignment, Casey. The more you know, right? I suck at History... sue me! But I'll get back to this in a minute.
Gourriel, who has played in Japan, seems to be an incredible player. His BA is well over .300, with plenty of power behind his bat. Eric Nadel, broadcaster for the Texas Rangers, saw him play in Japan and said
"Every time you see Gourriel, you see something special...
"Just look at what he did in Japan last summer. He hit over .300 with power. He's going back there this summer. He's legitimately a major-leaguer in any league."
Okay, so what's stopping him? The embargo restricts trades, but it also restricts Americans from spending money in Cuba. Honestly, it's a lot of political crap, brought on by some hostile relations between the two countries, in the early 1960's after Fidel Castro took control of Cuba. The government is now working towards changing this, but it will take time. For a better explanation, go HERE.
We've seen a steady amount of baseball player's simply defecting from Cuba. Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, for example. But those players have to establish residence and get "unblocked" by the U.S. Treasury and... again, politics, politics. This year, Yoan Moncada was allowed to leave, and signed with the Red Sox. But then the question of compensation comes up. Japan gets compensation when their players leave for the U.S., so the idea that the U.S. would compensate Cuba is not entirely outlandish.
Gourriel is not going to defect. He wants an end to the embargo, as do many people... or so I have been reading. Lifting the embargo will open many opportunities, including the pool of free agents available to the MLB. There are players like Gourriel who are ready and willing to play once the embargo is lifted.
Defecting is a personal choice, and it comes with many of it's own obstacles, and risk. I don't think any of us know for certain that the embargo will ever be lifted, and maybe there are some that wish for it to stay in place permanently. All I know is that there are many great "could-be-major-leaguers" being held back by a policy that is more than 50 years old.
Now, someone please tell me what the Cold War has to do with any of this? And why didn't they just get a blanket if they were cold? Why the war? Heh.
--Erica Morales BYB Senior Writer
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