The Cuban dictator is believed to have said that his country could never be free of American Imperialism until it lost it’s love affair with baseball (Castro’s supposed baseball prowess is in fact an urban myth).
And it seems that Hugo Chavez, the current Venezuelan President, is of a similar opinion,he warmly welcomed his country’s progress in the Copa America soccer tournament whilst "Team USA" failed to progress. He expressed opinions that echoed Castro in that he hoped soccer would become the national sport, replacing baseball.
The idea of baseball as the sport of Imperialism is not one that had struck me before, but the more I think about it the more sense it makes. After all, Cricket was only spread to the countries that the British Empire colonized; India, Pakistan, Australia, South Africa etc (Karl Marx, by the way, said that there would be no revolution in England as long as cricket was played there) so why shouldn’t baseball become the primary indicator of the reach of the current American Empire?
Maybe the whole George W Bush/ neo-con agenda isn’t propelled by the desire to promote democracy throughout the middle-east, maybe the whole idea is to promote baseball. Maybe Bud Selig is the power behind the throne, desperate to extend his reach throughout the Arab world (I, for one, would pay good money to watch the first "Iraq versus USA" World Baseball Classic game). Could it be true that Abu Ghraib is actually the Yankees most ruthlessly efficient training camp? How many of Guantanamo Bay’s "prisoners" are actually going to turn up on the books of the Marlins? (and how many will want to go back to Guantanamo?).
Questions that need answers certainly, but to the European eye (and I call myself a European here purely out of geography rather than temperament) this whole Communism versus America farago seems hopelessly out of date. After all, we have never really had the same pathological fear and hatred of "the Commies" that the USA embraces (we treat them as kind of genial elderly uncles) and, despite attempts by some groups, we have never really taken on board the whole "anti-American" stance with any serious commitment. Europe, as a whole, tends to favor the genocide of small religious groups as it’s means of expressing displeasure.
So, my advice to Mr Castro and Mr Chavez (and I know that they read this blog), is to move on from this shallow and empty anti-American propaganda and embrace the game of baseball, and if you really want to start a revolution in America why not begin by buying a stretch of ground near Chase Field and offering fans free car parking. The people would be with you all the way!