Their fans flooded the ballpark wearing Cuban flags across the shoulders, like capes. They were there to cheer on the United States in the World Baseball Classic semifinal game. They cheered when the Cuban flag was displayed on American soil and the island's national song was played before the first pitch.
This joy was not shared equally. A small group of Cubans protested outside the park, as well as a heavy police presence. This was a reminder that the US national team is also a notoriously oppressive regime that drove many to seek a better lifestyle in America.
A fourth-inning fan, seated behind home plate, held up a sign in Spanish criticizing the Cuban dictatorship. Also, there were shouts of "Libertad!"Cuba's first baseball game in Miami was held since 1959, when Fidel Castro assumed power.
"We had a long conversation about it, we really did. We are excited to play Cuba. I know that if it weren't for the sacrifices my grandparents made for me, I don't think I would be the player I am today.
Arenado was focused on the field and went 2 for 3, with a run scored, as the US won 14-2.Paul Goldschmidt, a Cardinals teammate, homered and drove four runs. Adam Wainwright, a third Cardinal, allowed only one run in four innings to win the game.
Five Cuban players were included in Sunday's Cuban lineup. This is a sign that some barriers are being broken down. Roenis Elias (ex-Red Sox lefthander) was the first to start the game.
Armando Johnson, Cuba manager, stated via translator that "We haven’t been able to accomplish that for reasons that are not our job to explain."They could come here and not leave their families. They could come to Cuba, play, and then return home. That's what I believe is a dream for many Cuban musicians."
The WBC is about baseball and not politics. And the baseball has been excellent. Although the tournament isn’t perfect, it has become a worthy event that diverts attention from hockey and basketball.
It means everything. After helping Mexico beat Puerto Rico in the quarterfinals, Alex Verdugo, Red Sox right fielder, said that he loves this."There's nothing more enjoyable than wearing this jersey and playing in the atmosphere, representing your country.
"This is a great tournament. There is no reason why stars of our game shouldn't be participating in this tournament. Mookie Betts and Mike Trout are the faces of our game who are participating in this event.
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