|Photo courtesy of Cuba Journal|
Choice to Defect
Rodríguez says that these players have a right to choose where they play. “It is absolutely natural that Cuban players, like players from all over the world, desire to play in the majors and become millionaires,” says Rodríguez. He explains that Cuba does provide a salary for players, but that salary is not enough to live comfortably on, especially for those with families.
When defectors leave Cuba they are leaving behind a rich tradition of baseball. “Baseball is the national passion,” says Henry Herida, specialist in international relations at an institute of cultural investigation. Daniel de Malas, Cuban baseball blogger, agrees with Herida. He says, “Baseball in Cuba is part of our idiosyncrasy, of our history, of our tradition.” The obsession begins with young, children play baseball in the streets “to the hand”, meaning that they do not use a bat. Instead of a normal baseball, children use a rubber ball and bat the ball with their hand. As they grow older, baseball is played “to the hard” with full equipment in parks facilitated for the game.