Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Future is Cuban for the Red Sox

The Red Sox went 86 years between winning the World Series. Most of that was due to bad pitching, some bad luck and a lack of great players. In 1947, the color line was broken in MLB and there were a handful of teams that used it to their advantage by bringing in talented black ballplayers. The Red Sox were not one of those teams.

Willie Mays could have been in the same outfield with Ted Williams but the Sox passed on him due to the color of his skin. Mays was just one of many the Sox didn't sign because of skin pigment and by doing so the Red Sox were irrelevant for much of the 1950s and 1960s. The Red Sox were the last team to have a black player on their roster. The Red Sox history with race is not a proud one and superficially their stance hurt the product on the field. The Curse of the Bambino? No, lack of great ballplayers and a thing called karma.

Ted Williams would never get a ring and he has ownership to thank for that. He played his last decade plus on bad teams that had no shot and very little talent. At least Teddy understood it and during his Hall of Fame speech sung the praises of the black ballplayers like Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson who had Hall of Fame talent but not Hall of Fame opportunity. Ted got it and the current Red Sox also get it.

The relations between the United States and Cuba have softened and from a baseball perspective that is huge news as Cuban ballplayers can now come to the United States and play baseball easier than ever. The Red Sox are one of the few teams really jumping on this opportunity.

The Red Sox signed Rusney Castillo last year and Yoan Moncada (unofficially) this year. The Red Sox brought their money with them and outbid the other interested MLB teams including the Yankees. Moncada is just 19 years old but has 5 tool talent. The Yankees put a cap on his value, the Red Sox put a higher cap on his value. Will the Red Sox be right? That remains to be seen. Undoubtedly there will be Cuban players who don't pan out just like other prospects who don't make it, however, the Sox feel the Cuban route will pay off in a big way down the road. Ben Cherington and his staff see the big picture. Cuba's number one sport is baseball. Their best athletes play baseball. Yasiel Puig is a freak athlete for baseball, if he grew up in the United States he would have been recruited to play football for an SEC school and drafted by an NFL team. In Cuba, the great athletes like Puig play baseball. The best athletes in the United States no longer play baseball. The Red Sox, like the Dodgers almost 70 years ago are ahead of the game, and their future will have a Cuban look to it.      

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