Cuban Connections

Mike Moffett

by Mike Moffett
Weirs Times Columnist

NEWS ITEM—The Boston Red Sox recently awarded teen-aged Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada a record $31.5million signing bonus. Reportedly, the actual total cost was $63 million, as there is a Major League Baseball tax of 100% for excessive spending on international free agents.
Sixty-three million dollars to sign an unproven Cuban 19-year-old. Aye carumba!
According to Prensa Libre/Associated Press, BoSox legend Luis Tiant, also a Cuban, played a role in wooing Yoan.
“Big kid, very strong,” Tiant said. “I think he’s a third baseman. We talked a little and I told him to work hard.”
So El Tiant “thinks” Yoan is a third baseman. Hmmmm. How much are we paying El Tiant for his help?
I ask that because to help secure the deal, the Red Sox earlier signed Carlos Mesa, a 27-year-old third baseman and FOY—Friend of Yoan. A Moncada mentor, Mesa was released by the Pirates organization in 2013 and played independent ball last season. So the cost of bringing Moncada to Boston is much higher than we realize. But didn’t BoSox General Manager Ben Cherrington already spend almost $100 million to sign Pablo Sandoval to play third base? Double “Aye carumba!!”
As that Illinois Senator Everett Dirkson might have said, “A hundred million here, a hundred million there. Pretty soon you’re talking real money.”
The good news is that the BoSox outbid the Yankees for Yoan. Or IS that good news? I wonder. How much money do the Sox have to throw around? We’re talking about a team that’s finished in last place two out of the past three seasons.
The Red Sox earlier paid $72 million dollars to sign Cuban defector Rusney Castillo. But Yoan was NOT a defector. Moncada was given a passport and visa and allowed to leave by the Cuban government. So obviously the teen sensation’s status was blessed by the Castro brothers, Fidel and Raoul—Cuba’s Communist dictators.
So I ask, is any of Moncada’s money going to go back to the Cuban government, i.e. the Castros? A lot of people probably don’t care, just so long as Moncada can play. But I care. I’m not sure that I want to pay big bucks at Fenway Park, knowing that some of it will support Communist dictators. Call me old-fashioned, but that’s how I feel.
Consider what happened to Miami Marlin manager Ozzie Guillen in 2012. For some reason, Guillen declared that he was a fan of Fidel, the elder of the Castro tyrants, who is supposedly now a “retired” dictator. As south Florida is largely populated by anti-Communist Cuban refugees, Guillen’s statements were an epic example of insensitive stupidity which utterly alienated the team’s fan base. It was akin to a BoSox manager bad-mouthing the Irish, clam chowder, and Dunkin’ Donuts. The Marlins actually suspended Guillen for his comments, and the team never recovered.
In the musical comedy DAMN YANKEES, Joe Boyd sold his soul to the Devil so that his Washington Senators could beat out the New York Yankees. It didn’t turn out well. I hope I’m overthinking re: Boston baseball money going to the Communist government in Cuba. It won’t turn out well.
Call me old-fashioned.

Speaking of Fidel Castro and Washington, I recalled an internet story about Fidel once having a Major League try-out with the Senators back in the 50’s. I looked into this and discovered the story to be a myth. Fidel wasn’t that good. It never happened. As Abraham Lincoln reportedly said, “Don’t believe all the quotes you read on the internet.”

The first time I went to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, in 1972, I paid $2 to sit in the centerfield bleachers. Years later, with the advent of free agency, the Red Sox raised the bleacher seat price to $3. Fans were outraged.
“Are the Red Sox crazy? Do they really expect us to pay THREE DOLLARS to go to a game?”
Yet pay we did. (But at least none of those dollars went to Castro’s Communist Cuban government.)

Sports Quiz
What is the record for most touchdowns in an NFL season? (Answer follows)

Born Today …
That is to say, sports figures born on March 19 include Philadelphia Phillies great Richie Ashburn (1927) and NFL quarterback Joe Kapp (1939).

Dorothy Shula, on the career dedication of her husband, the former coach of the Miami Dolphins: “I’m fairly confident that if I died during a football season, Don would find a way to preserve me until the season was over and he had time for a nice funeral.”

Sportsquiz Answer
San Diego Charger running back LaDainian Tomlinson scored 28 touchdowns in 2006.

Michael Moffett is a Professor of Sports Management at NHTI, Concord’s Community College. He recently co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines) —which is available through His e-mail address is

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