Close, but No Cigar

Dec. 26, 2005
Dec. 26, 2005

Table of Contents
Dec. 26, 2005

Catching Up With
SI Players: Life On and Off the Field
The Best of 2005
The Year in Sports 2005
Best of the Worst 2005

Close, but No Cigar

The U.S. bars Cuba, one of the world's best teams, from the World Baseball Classic

IT WASN'T a good week for the World Baseball Classic. On Friday word got out that AL MVP Alex Rodriguez will skip the March event. At least it was Rodriguez's choice. Three days earlier Cuba was told by the U.S. Treasury Department that it couldn't compete in the Classic, to be held in Japan, Puerto Rico and the U.S., because of the American embargo on the Communist country.

This is an article from the Dec. 26, 2005 issue Original Layout

So much for baseball diplomacy. Cuba, which has won three of the last four Olympic golds, has sent other teams to the U.S.; last summer a soccer team played in Seattle and Foxborough, Mass. What probably bothered the Treasury Department is that the WBC players would have received money for competing. (Each team in the Classic will get a share of a revenue pool.)

So Cuban stars like pitcher Adiel Palma and second baseman Yuliesky Gourriel won't showcase their talents for U.S. fans. (Fidel Castro had bragged that Team Cuba had players better than major leaguers Jose Contreras and Livan Hernandez.) MLB could turn to Nicaragua or Colombia as a replacement, but first it will lobby to have Cuba reinstated. Said an MLB official, "We will continue to work within appropriate channels in an attempt to address the government's concerns."

PHOTOAL BEHRMAN/AP (GOURRIEL)OUT! Gourriel (right, sliding) is one star U.S. fans won't see.