(Image: AP/David J. Phillip)
This weekend’s three-game series between the Reds and Brewers includes two players – Yuniesky Betancourt and Aroldis Chapman – who took a more tortured path than most to the big leagues. Both are Cuban players who defected from their home country to play professionally in the United States.
As someone of Cuban heritage, I’m particularly interested in players who have that background (my favorite player was Jose Canseco when I was a kid). With Betancourt and Chapman on opposite sides of the field for the second time this season, I took a moment to look up stories about their defections. Given that defection from an authoritarian state involves some risk, I should not have been surprised that the stories of both men contain some unflattering details.
This 2008 Vanity Fair piece on the road Cuban players have taken to MLB actually makes it sound like defection itself isn’t difficult, particularly for those who played for the Cuban national te...