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There Was a Great Moment at the World Baseball Classic. No, It Wasn't About Mike Trout and Ohtani.

Frank Gunn

Japan is on top of the baseball world, winning their third trophy in the world classic, which was exciting and heartbreaking, especially for New York Mets fans. Star closer Edwin Diaz, who was pitching for Puerto Rico and had just signed a massive $102 million extension with the club, tore his patella tendon during their game against the Dominican Republic. Also, the United States lost in the championship game. It wasn’t a good tournament, except for one aspect: a Cuban player decided to defect and flee his communist hell-hole island prison for greener pastures. 


The United States creamed Cuba in their matchup, winning 14-2. Catcher Ivan Prieto Gonzalez was a no-show when the team was supposed to leave Florida following the loss, sparking reports that he had decided to defect. He’s not the first player to do this, and it’s created tension in the already strained US-Cuba relations. RedState had this story on our sites first, but if there’s something that could be positively gleaned from this tournament—it’s a player wanting to start anew in America (via Fox News): 


Ivan Prieto Gonzalez, Team Cuba’s bullpen catcher for the World Baseball Classic, defected in Miami on Monday, a day after his team lost to Team USA in the semifinals at loanDepot Park. 

Prieto did not show up for the team’s flight to Havana, Cuba, at Miami International Airport, according to the Miami Herald’s Jorge Ebro. 

Prieto was chosen by the Cuban Baseball Federation to be the team’s bullpen catcher when the team was picked to head to Taiwan for initial pool play. 


… the decision by Prieto to defect from Cuba is one that many baseball players have done before him. MLB is riddled with players who found a way to get over to the United States in order to live out their dreams as a professional baseball player, as Cuba still does not allow it to happen. 


Today, players like Jose Abreu, Aroldis Chapman, Yordan Alvarez, Randy Arozarena and more, are among MLB stars who defected from the Communist country. Arozarena also begged Team Mexico to allow him citizenship to play for them instead of his home country, as he initially defected there before beginning his journey in the U.S. 


But he's the first player to defect during the World Baseball Classic. NBC News has more. Mr. Gonzalez casually got into a car driven by relatives after his team's loss:

Henry Morales,  a journalist who covers Cuban baseball, said upon arriving at the hotel Sunday night, Prieto walked out and got into a car with his relatives. Prieto is believed to be the first Cuban to defect during a World Baseball Classic tournament. 

Although Prieto was not the starting catcher for the Cuban team, the 26-year-old was a bullpen catcher.

I’d rather have this be more of a story than Japanese player Shohei Ohtani facing off against his teammate Mike Trout; both play for the Los Angeles Angels. Ohtani struck out Trout, a dead fish, during the big game. Somehow, folks in sports media thought Trout getting filleted at home plate was some epic at-bat. Mike ‘Mad Dog’ Russo torched this on ESPN’s First Take, noting that Dodgers’ John Gibson’s walk-off home run against the Oakland A’s hall of fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley in game one of the 1988 World Series was more memorable, and he's right.


Anyways, welcome to America, Mr. Gonzalez.

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