America has always been a strange dichotomy of mixed messages.
Our fascination, love, fear and disdain of sorts with Cubans has long permeated the American way of life. The Cuban mystique was started by Hollywood, mobsters, musicians and all of the above in Frank Sinatra and so many other influential Americans who spent much of their free time in haciendas and casinos in Havana enjoying the famous and now illegal Cuban cigars.
We see our hopes and fears and triumph with Elian Gonzalez and other refugees traveling through shark-filled, dangerous waters to get to the freedom that we here in the U.S.A. often take for granted. America’s Past Time is an excellent example of this dichotomy. We were taught to fear and hate him, but there are stories of Fidel Castro himself once being a pitching prospect looked at by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
They range from everyone’s favorite author and C-level celebrity Jose Canseco and his less steroidal brother Ozzie (who were Cuban refugees) to dominating players like Aroldis Chapman and now Yoenis Cespedes, who is a phenomenal prospect. Cubans have filled up major league rosters over the last few years. In the 1960’s the Minnesota Twins had the first Cuban MVP in Zoilo Versalles and Tony Oliva, who would have been a sure shot Hall of Famer if had he played in New York, Boston, or Los Angeles.
Unfortunately the eight-time all star (1964 to 1971), five-time hit king, three-time batting champ (which included being the first player to ever lead the league as a rookie) has been forgotten by too many in the national media. But here in Minnesota he is as loved as any native son including Joe Mauer.
I could go on — and I might in future posts. But now I want to talk about a different Cuban. I’m concerned that Major League Baseball is trying to prevent Mark Cuban from joining its exclusive club of owners. And just like the “duck and cover” approach to nuclear fallout, I think keeping Cuban out of baseball would be a horrible mistake.
Cuban had put in an offer for the Chicago Cubs before losing out to Joe Ricketts, and more recently he had been linked to the Los Angeles Dodgers, though he himself — the owner of Landmark Theatres — is only the 152nd richest man in America, according to Forbes.
Cuban was brushed off by the Cubs, and while he says he “isn’t” being blackballed by Major League Baseball, I tend to disagree. For what it’s worth the current rumored price is $1.5 billion for the Dodgers, and he is only worth about $2.5 billion, depending on which website you use to check.
Though his basketball team, the Dallas Mavericks is worth approximately $438 Million dollars, according to Forbes, (pretty good in a down economy, especially considering he paid $280 Million for them in 1998), he currently doesn’t have the assets to obtain the Dodgers by himself. But with rumors of a gold mine TV deal between Fox and the Dodgers (looking at upwards of $4 billion dollars over the next 20 years) starting in 2014, they are definitely tantalizing. Coupling that with the Dodgers’ amazing attendance records since moving to Chavez Ravine and you can see why for yourself why he and every other billionaire with an interest in baseball and making money would be interested.
I believe that Mark Cuban and men like him need to break into the Old Boys Network of owners in Major League Baseball. Think of what this mogul could do for a smaller market team! A man who spends to win could really work there.
Personally, I think if Cuban is set on baseball, which he has said time and time again is his first love, I think a team like the Kansas City Royals or the Pittsburgh Pirates (his home team from birth) would be amazing vehicles. Both are priced low, both have storied histories, and beautiful stadiums that could hold the keys to huge increases in revenues. Neither team is currently for sale, but when has that ever stopped a billionaire from getting what he wants?
Imagine Mark Cuban owning one of those two up-and-coming, prospect-laden teams. The Royals are closer to competing right now, but the Pirates (his hometown team growing up) could play havoc on the rest of the National League with the billionaire pulling the strings. Just think the team that passed on Fidel Castro and inadvertently may have helped propel the cold war could be owned by a Cuban!