Saturday afternoon reading: Cuba, baseball and the U.S.

Jeremy Bleich takes on Georgia
Yanks leave everyone on base in loss

I have long been fascinated with Cuban baseball. The island nation, 90 miles away from the U.S. geographically, but a world a part politically, features some of the best baseball players that no one has ever heard of. In July’s Vanity Fair, Michael Lewis of Moneyball fame pens one of the best magazine pieces on baseball I’ve ever read. His title: Commie Ball: A Journey to the End of a Revolution.

Lewis’ story is fascinating on two fronts. First, he explores the sad and odd case of Gus Dominguez, a Cuban American serving jail time for allegedly smuggling athletes into the U.S. from Cuba. As Lewis makes abundantly clear in the article, Dominguez’s guilt is highly questionable, and despite a verdict from the jury and his current five-year sentence, the government’s case against him is both full of holes and indicative of the current state of the nation’s immigration policies.

The second part of the story involves a journey Lewis made — somewhat secretly, somewhat not, as you’ll see — to Cuba to explore the Communist nation and understand what baseball means to Cuba. While it clocks in at 25 printed pages, the piece is exceptional, and I highly recommend it for its stories, its characters, and Lewis’ writing. [Commie Ball with a hat tip to the Banter and Dayn Perry]

Jeremy Bleich takes on Georgia
Yanks leave everyone on base in loss
  • BigBlueAL

    Someone mentioned this article to I think it was Keith Law, or it couldve been Rob Neyer not sure, in an chat so I went to check it out. I didnt read it at the time because of its length, the website I believe has it in around 12 pages or so, but now that you recommended it I will definitely read the entire article.

  • Steve

    Just finished it, great read. Thanks for the heads up.

    BTW-Which one was the free country and which was the one that abuses its citizens? By the time I got to the end of the article, I couldn’t tell.

  • Count Zero

    Good reading — thanks for the link. My family came to the US from Cuba in 1961 as political refugees.

    Without going off into a political diatribe, I will simply say that our foreign policy towards our neighbor 90 miles south has been a travesty since they got their “freedom” in 1900. If we aren’t trying to exploit them, we’re trying to figure out how to pressure them into letting us exploit them. We have had a hand in the ascendancy of every ruler that country has ever had, including Fidel Castro. (We are so good at king-making, aren’t we? Shah of Iran, Ferdinand Marcos…)

    The Monroe Doctrine has been shredded by our treatment of Cuba, and in the end, it’s the little people that suffer for it. I hope one day someone puts a stop to it, but I sometimes think I’ll go to my grave with the most ridiculous embargo in the history of the world still in place.

  • Kit Krieger

    I was Michael Lewis’s guide on his trip to Cuba and would like to extend an invitation to readers to participate in my 2009 Cubaball Tour. Tour dates are January 26-February 3. Attend games of the Cuban National series, visit sites related to the rich lore of Cuban baseball and meet veteran players, including surviving member of the Havana Sugar Kings and the legendary Conrado Marrero, the last major leaguer living on the island. Visit the Cubaball website ( for more information.

    Kit Krieger