Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Goliath Beats David Again

U. S. Beats Cuba...Again
{UpdatedWednesday, February 10th, 2016}
    This lithograph is courtesy of Osmar Schindler/Wikipedia. It depicts the mythological battle between David and Goliath. Little David, the million-to-one underdog, by historic accounts, faced off against the awesomely armed Big Goliath. David was armed with just a sling-shot loaded with one small rock. A legend was created by the myth that David won, a victory that for centuries has thrilled and encouraged long-shots and underdogs. But reality is no myth. In the real world, David is no match against Goliath. And in the real world Cuba, in the role of David, is no match for the United States, in the role of Goliath. On Monday morning of this week, as on many previous Monday mornings, Cubans on the island were reminded of that fact yet again. By now, Cubans realize that, in truth, David cannot beat Goliath, except in a mythical sense.
    On Monday morning, February 8th, 2016, Cubans awoke to the news that their favorite baseball player, Yuliesky Gourriel, had defected along with his younger brother Lourdes. For the last twelve years, since he was a teenager, Yuliesky has been Cuba's most beloved player on the baseball-mad island. Year-after-year, Cuba's unmatched surfeit of baseball talent increasingly defected, lured by the incredible bonuses and salaries in the United States. But year-after-year, the now 31-year-old Yuliesky resisted that temptation, even after his performance in the 2006 World Baseball Classic resulted in U. S. scouts and General Managers salivating about luring Yuliesky off the island. More than one scout in 2006 rated Yuliesky better than Derek Jeter, who at the time was the superstar shortstop for the New York Yankees. U. S. teams were ready and eager to bless Yuliesky with a guaranteed $100 million-dollar deal...if he would defect. Yuliesky's fierce loyalty to Cuba caused him to refuse such blatant guarantees...until Monday!
     On Monday morning Yuliesky and his younger brother Lourdes, also a top prospect, put Cuba in their rear-view mirror when they eased out of their hotel room in the Dominican Republic during the Caribbean Baseball Tournament. Cuba for many years dominated all regional and international baseball competitions -- such as the Pan-American Games, the World Baseball Classic, and the Olympics. But no more, and never again. Per capita, Cuba produces more baseball talent than any nation in the world. But now the 30 U. S. Major League teams are routinely paying in excess of $30 million a year for baseball stars, including some who are far from being superstars. In addition, as with any huge money schemes, the enticement of Cuban players to defect has created a vast cottage industry of human traffickers, agents, and criminal activity that includes kidnappings and extortion rackets. The defections of Cuban baseball players also are impacted by U. S. laws that grossly pertain only to Cubans, laws intended to hurt Cuba's revolutionary government and to enrich and empower Cuban exiles and defectors. The infamous Wet Foot/Dry Foot U. S. law since 1966 has, for example, enticed everyday Cubans to defect with economic benefits -- totally unavailable to all non-Cubans -- that include instant financial rewards as well as unchallenged residence. An easily bought-and-paid for U. S. Congress readily passes such laws and decades of the dark alliance between the Bush dynasty and Cuban extremists has exacerbated much of what the world bemoans about one-sided U.S.-Cuban relations, a David vs. Goliath situation in which Goliath seeks to remake David into the Batista-Mafia regime that existed, with U. S. backing, from 1952 till the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959. The Bush contribution to that debacle includes one of the last acts of the George W. Bush presidential administration prior to the current Barack Obama administration, and that was a shameful law that Obama inherited, along with countless others, that to this day provides huge financial incentives for Cuban doctors and nurses to defect to the U. S., along with everyday Cubans and...most especially...BASEBALL PLAYERS. YES, ESPECIALLY BASEBALL PLAYERS!!
   Yulieski Gourriel, at least until this Monday morning, was Fidel Castro's favorite baseball player in all the world. Yulieski's father, who never defected, had been Fidel's favorite player before Yuliesky. This photo shows Fidel with Yulieski in 2006, just days before Fidel was stricken with an intestinal disorder that almost killed him and from which, as he nears his 90th birthday, he is still trying to recuperate. In his youth, Fidel as Cuba's Athlete of the Year and as a baseball pitcher, was offered bonuses by both the Philadelphia Athletics and the Washington Senators. But history records the fact that he became a lawyer and a revolutionary. Yet, in February of 2016 he remains a huge baseball fan, albeit a sad one today. With Obama's two-term presidency having replaced the two-terms of George W. Bush, Cuba has tried to lessen the punitive aspects of the Bush-enhanced U. S. laws directed at the island. Cuba and Obama, in fact, are still trying to normalize relations, even reopening embassies in Havana and Washington for the first time since 1961, the year the U. S. and the Batistianos lost the Bay of Pigs attack that was intended to recapture the island. Cuba, with Obama in the White House, even tried desperately to stem its unique pools of talent from defecting -- including baseball players, doctors, nurses, ballet stars, etc. In 2013, for example, Yulieski made $1 million in Japan playing baseball for Yokohama, and then he returned to play in Cuba. It was hoped that such agreements could be worked out between Cuba and the U. S. Major League teams. But it is not to be. Anything that remotely appears to be a positive for Cuba is easily squashed...as will be the reopened embassies...by a vast cottage industry of benefactors in the U. S. who will not let go of the lucrative Castro Cottage Industry, which since the 1950s has created long lines of millionaires, billionaires, and political power-brokers. Obama has seriously dented the Castro Cottage Industry but, like a cancer that resists all treatments, it is still omnipotent and that all-powerful scourge will continue to kill many of the most important aspects of the world's greatest democracy, just like it is killing Cuban baseball.
       
    Since 1959, when the Cuban Revolution judiciously chased the Batistianos and Mafiosi off the island only to see them relocate to a new capital -- Miami, also now called Little Havana. In all the years since, the Cuban narrative in the U. S. has been dictated by the transplanted Batistianos and their sycophants, such as the Bush dynasty and the U. S. Congress. Therefore, propagandized Americans have timidly and insouciantly allowed Little Havana and the Castro Cottage Industry to use the CIA, the U. S. military, the U. S. treasury, the U. S. media and whatever else they needed to support their agenda, which involves revenge against Cuba and getting very rich and powerful in America. In that milieu, Americans don't have a clue about such things as...this week's defection of Fidel Castro's favorite baseball player Yulieski Gourriel. To understand it, Americans would need to understand this photo, which shows Jose Abreu playing first base for Cuba in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Abreu barely was good enough to make that team and rarely played. He had some home-run power but was very slow afoot and weak defensively, rated far behind the Cuban first baseman at the time, Ariel Borrero.
    But after the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Jose Abreu had some good years as a slugger in Cuba's top professional baseball league. Despite the U. S. embargo of most things related to Cuba, the lush island's prime national treasures -- such as baseball players, doctors, and ballet performers -- are relentlessly scouted and offered huge financial incentives to defect to the United States, an ongoing process that is primarily designed to hurt Cuba and help the vast Castro Cottage Industry in the U. S., which benefits a few and harms everyone else.
        So, Abreu defected in 2013 and signed a 6-year, $68 million contract with the Chicago White Sox...with every penny guaranteed. But Abreu hit 66 homers in 2014 and 2015 with the White Sox, who now think they got a steal for a piddling 68 million dollars. In the last year of that contract in 2019 Abreu will be paid exactly $13,667,000.00. He turned 29 on January 29th and in 2020 he will be a free agent again. That's when his agent will command some REALLY BIG money, probably around $25 million a year. The 30 U. S. Major League teams -- with most of them owned by billionaires who often get huge tax benefits, tax-built stadiums, and billion-dollar television contracts -- now routinely pay $30 million per year to players who will never, like Abreu, hit 66 homers in a two-year span. Per capita, Cuba produces far more baseball talent than the United States...or the Dominican Republic. All 30 Major League teams now have year-around and state-of-the-art baseball complexes in the Dominican Republic, which unlike Cuba is not the victim of a decades-old embargo although when the ruthless U.S.-backed Batista ran Cuba the ruthless U.S.-backed Trujillo ran the Dominican Republic. State-of-the-Art baseball complexes in Cuba would increase the deluge of Cuban baseball talent but the revengeful Castro Cottage Industry in the U. S. frowns on anything that resembles a positive for Cuba. Even so, Cuban defectors routinely and easily become superstars in the United States Major Leagues -- such as Jose Abreu, Aroldis Chapman, Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes, etc., etc., etc., etc. Human traffickers and many others share mightily in such spoils. Therefore, although the U. S. media doesn't have the guts to admit it, Jose Abreu and all the other former Cuban baseball stars...now including Yulieski Gourriel...are products of the Castro Industry that dictates the gluttonous U. S. Cuban policy.
Photo courtesy: Roberto Morejon/AIN.
Former Cuban baseball stars Yulieski and Lourdes Gourriel.
      This photo shows Yulieski Gourriel in the all-blue uniform for the Japanese team he played for in Yokohama. He got paid $1 million dollars in Japan, accounting for his thumbs-up portrayal. Cuba approved his Japanese venture because the million dollars was taxed 10% and he was back in time to play during Cuba's baseball season. I'm happy for the money Yulieski made in Japan and for the many millions of dollars he will now make in America. But it makes me very sad for Cuba. Of all the Cuban baseball, ballet, and medical stars induced to defect to the United States for the prime purpose of hurting Cuba, for the last twelve years Yulieski seemed to stand tall, high above the fray, in his fiercely intense loyalty to Cuba. To many, he was like David vs. Goliath, using only a sling-shot and his stoic character, to fight and to resist the unbeatable foe. Most of us root for underdogs; that's why we are enmeshed with the myth of David. That's why we admired Yulieski so much. At least until Monday morning. That's when he destroyed the comfort of that myth, reminding us of harsh realities we try so hard to dismiss, such as....human gluttony!!
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And speaking of gluttony:
Meet Peyton Manning.
     Now almost 40-years-old, Peyton is an American sports icon. Since age 22 he has made millions upon millions of dollars playing quarterback in the multi-billion-dollar National Football League. But it is the monumental endorsement money lavishly paid out by corporations that makes billionaires out of sports heroes like Tiger Woods, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and...Peyton Manning. The gluttonous offering and receiving of such money is as endless and seamless as it is greedy and unseemly, in a nation in which billboards announce that one in five children have hunger problems. Sunday night, at the conclusion of Super Bowl 50, Peyton Manning in the interview depicted here revealed to the entire world the sheer obscenity of soon-to-be billionaire athletes shamelessly displaying momentous gluttony. He had that opportunity because the super-hyped Super Bowl each year is supposedly viewed by almost the entire world, including those who have no comprehension of football, capitalism or gluttony. As a quarterback the oft-injured Peyton is over-the-hill; he threw far more interceptions than touchdown passes this season. But his team, the Denver Broncos, won the Superbowl in spite of Peyton because of a powerful defense that overwhelmed the favored Carolina Panthers. But Peyton, being Peyton, commanded the bulk of the post-game interviews, including the one depicted above when...seemingly tossed in out of nowhere...he told the world he was now going to drink hundreds of Budweiser beers. The viewers, including his young daughters, were not supposed to understand that sly endorsement. But most of the world did anyway...immediately. Budweiser is one of Peyton's many corporate sponsors. In fact, as the world's dominant beer, a Budweiser distributorship is better than a gold mine for spewing out money. Peyton already is a co-owner of two Budweiser distributorships, with more on the way. In fact, he is also a co-owner of Papa John's Pizza distributorships because Papa John's is also one of Peyton's many sponsors! You see, if you're a superstar athlete like Tiger, Magic, Michael, Peyton, etc., you aren't just paid hundreds of millions of easy dollars, you are also made an owner. Basketball icon Michael Jordon has been retired for almost two decades but one of his sponsors, Nike, is still in 2016 paying him about $200 million a year while shamefully making the Jordan-named products in slave-like conditions overseas!! Now digest that, if you will, in a nation in which one in five children have a hunger problem, a hunger problem that $200 million paid yearly to Michael Jordan could help alleviate. But the latest reminder of obscene gluttony is Peyton Manning shamefully tossing in that ad for Budweiser at the end of the Super Bowl. The headline in the Denver Post Monday, the next day, was: "Peyton Manning's 'Budweiser' Mention Valued at $13.9 Million." That figure was calculated based on the price of the programmed Super Bowl ads, not the character-defining free ad Peyton stupidly gave Budweiser. But anyway you slice it, digest it, camouflage it, or try to justify it...Peyton Manning, Budweiser, and runaway capitalism are, in a word, gluttonous.
  And so, let's crack open a Bud and drink to the The Great America Lie, which is that American capitalism is not gluttonous but a glorious tribute to freedom and democracy. {Tell that to hungry children}. On second thought, let's don't drink to it. To do what Peyton Manning suggested about Budweiser beer at the end of the Supper Bowl is, I think, an insult to the one-in-five American children who have hunger problems. Also, come to think of it, it is an insult to me. I have lived a long life and never once have I ever tasted a drop of beer or whiskey. I'm no more saintly than others but I am not as easily proselytized, it seems. Budweiser doesn't have an ad budget large enough to entice me to drink or become addicted to its product, no matter how many Peyton Manning-like superstars try to propagandize me. But I admit: Billboards across America reminding me that one-in-five American children have hunger problems do impress me, especially when I'm also told that a long-retired former athlete is still being paid $200 million a year by just one of his many sponsors.
    In Havana Sunday night, Cristina Escobar probably did not watch the Super Bowl. I hope not anyway. Peyton Manning's gluttonous plug for Budweiser would perhaps have riled her so much that she might have mentioned it on her prime-time newscasts on Cuban television. But that's just a guess. Yet, Peyton and Budweiser are prime examples of what the feisty Ms. Escobar most dislikes about the United States and capitalism: GLUTTONY!! And her opinion, at least on the island, carries more weight than those of even Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. At age 28, she even influences more young Cubans than her U.S.-based adversaries such as Ted and Marco. If you haven't seen her on Cuban, regional or international news programs, check her out on YouTube, either in Spanish or English. In the Tracey Eaton interview on YouTube, she makes many salient points, such as, "I don't want the U. S. to bring me democracy." In other words, she is not a fan of gluttony. BUT, CHRISTINA! WHAT ABOUT DEMOCRACY WITHOUT GLUTTONY? Yes, she has been asked that exact question, to which she replied, "If the two can be separated, I'll surely listen." She then laughed, softly and cutely, before adding, "Are you trying to tell me you can work miracles?" Anyway...if you can, contact Cristina.
       Sunder Pichai was born 43 years ago in India. He graduated from the famed Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He began working for Google in 2004, meaning he is a very, very rich man. In August of 2015 he became Google's CEO. On one day this week, whether he needed it or not, he got very much richer -- $199 million dollars richer!! On Monday Mr. Pichai was awarded that bonus. In 2018 Mr. Pichai has another stock option worth $250 million dollars, but that doesn't mean he won't get more bonuses, in addition to his salary, in 2016 and 2017. In Cuba the perceptive non-capitalist Cristina Escobar takes note of such gluttony, one reason she staunchly told journalist Tracey Eaton, "I don't want the U. S. to bring me democracy." The vast U. S. disparity between the rich and poor helps shape her opinions.
And lastly, a very sad note: 
        This photo is courtesy of WLS-TV, the ABC affiliate in Chicago. The beautiful young lady's name was Aaren O'Connor, age 25. She recently moved from California to Chicago to take a new job and be near her boyfriend. Friday after work she was in her car when she was killed by a stray bullet to her head. Her father, David O'Connor, told WLS-TV, "I pleaded with her when she told me she was going to Chicago." His fear, unfortunately, was obvious. In the first 35 days of 2015, 35 people were killed by gunfire in Chicago. In the first 35 days of this year, 2016, that figure has doubled to 70. Aaren O'Connor...was one of the 70. 
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