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On Cinco De Mayo: Strike Three For American Baseball Players?
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May 04, 2007, 05:00 AM
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My intention this week was to write a column about that infuriating annual event known as Cinco de Mayo.

Try as we might, it grows harder every year to ignore this commercial and ethnic identity-driven "holiday." My own hometown of Lodi, CA. is planning to do it up big—with the assistance, needless to say, of the local Chamber of Commerce.

But just as I was putting my Cinco de Mayo ideas together in my head, I came upon an even more infuriating immigration-related subject—no small feat.

The New York Times, in a sports section story, revealed that Major League Baseball is eagerly waiting for the day when it can tap the Cuban market for more players it can sign on the cheap.  [Baseball Is Looking To Establish Portal To Cuba, By Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times, April 26, 2007]

Of course, that is not exactly how either baseball officials or reporter Schmidt expressed themselves.

But believe you me, that`s what it is all about—more players from poor countries like Cuba (annual per capita income $3,000) and the Dominican Republic ($5,500) and fewer players, most with at least equal talent, from the United States.

Once the U.S. lifts its trade embargo with Cuba and players become available major league franchise owners, already virtually printing money thanks to their enormously profitable operation and lucrative television contracts, will need ever-larger wheelbarrows to cart their cash to the bank.

Over the years, I`ve written quite a bit on VDARE.COM about baseball.

But even if you are not a fan or don`t understand the game, read this now. It shows how far big business interests—in this case major league owners—are capable of going to shortchange Americans for their own benefit.

In this case, it involves dealing with and investing in a Communist country at the expense of giving inner-city American youths an equal opportunity to play baseball.

Very quietly, baseball is laying the foundation for building training academies in Cuba where young players would be coached on fundamentals and—hopefully, from the owners` perspective—be nurtured into major leaguers.

These academies would follow existing models in the Dominican Republic where all thirty major league franchises have schools and in Venezuela, where another ten teams have opened camps.

That`s a total of forty training academies in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

And how many such facilities are there in the U.S.?

The answer: exactly one.

In Compton, south of Los Angeles, the Urban Youth Academy has been up and running to rave reviews for a year.

At a cost of $10 million—mere bus fare for owners—the academy`s primary goal is to restore interest in baseball among black kids. Blacks now represent only 8 percent of major league players—an all-time low number.

But as I see it, training camps should be operating in all thirty cities where major league baseball is played. That includes major urban areas like Chicago, New York, Detroit, Houston, Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles to name but a few.

Go to those cities and talk to the police chief or any school principal and you`ll hear stories about disaffected youths and high school drop outs who see few opportunities ahead of them and have few incentives to work hard.

Why not open baseball academies where well-heeled players—MLB annual minimum salary of $400,000, average salary, $3 million and maximum salary, paid to the Yankee`s Alex Rodriguez, of $25 million—could make a few appearances to share their knowledge and pat some backs?

When you think about it, why should major league baseball be showing more than a passing interest in Cuban or Dominican players?

The population of Cuba is 12 million; the Dominican Republic, 9 million. Are these countries likely to be greater sources of players than the U.S. with its 302 million residents?

As always where immigration is concerned—and today`s example is no exception—it comes down to a question of who benefits.

The elites can give our nation`s youth a fighting chance at making something of their lives. Even for those who may never get to the major leagues, the lessons they learn at a baseball academy should influence them positively and keep them out of trouble.

But the rich and powerful have already chosen instead to juggle the immigration system to bring in Dominicans, Venezuelans and even Japanese players.

Cubans are next.

Will the owners continue to strike out American players in favor of the foreign- born?

Disappointingly, it sure looks that way.

Said Walt Whitman, once upon a time, about baseball:

"It`s our game. That`s the chief fact in connection with it: America`s game."

Poor Whitman must be rolling over in his grave

Joe Guzzardi [e-mail him] is the Editor of VDARE.COM Letters to the Editor. In addition, he is an English teacher at the Lodi Adult School and has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.