Some obscure wing in the Treasury Department of the U.S. government known as the Office Of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has decided that Cuba cannot play in the World Baseball Classic(WBC) this coming March. The permit wagging OFAC has refused to issue permission under its strict rules regarding any commercial transactions with Fidel Castro and his communist regime in Cuba.
Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) Chief, Gene Orza, and Paul Archey, the senior vice-president of Major League Baseball International (MLBI) signaled that they were not giving up on Cuba’s participation when they issued a statement following the OFAC’s decision,
"We are very dissapointed with the government’s decision to deny the participation of a team from Cuba in the World Baseball Classic. We will continue to work within appropriate channels in an attempt to address the government’s concerns and will not announce a replacement unless and until that effort fails."
Cuba has been at the apex of international baseball for a long time. Since the International Baseball Federation’ s (IBF) first World Championship in 1938, Cuba has won 10 out of the total 36 World Championships (The U.S. with top college and minor league talent has won once). Even if Orza and Archey do convince the OFAC to grant permission for Cuba to participate in the WBC, they could face another obstacle- Now that they’ve been rejected by the U.S., it would not be out of character for Fidel’s famous pride to flare and for Cuba to refuse its invitation. If Cuba does eventually join the Classic, it will be a testament to the diplomacy skills of Gene Orza and Paul Archey.
Fidel drawing by John Overmyer