Tuesday, January 12, 2010

This is my Aroldis Chapman post

The thing that got me was the snow. He'd never seen snow before. I know there are people in California and other parts of the USA who have never seen snow in their lives, but this was different. I was looking for a justification for the significance of the tall man at the table, and I found it all in the comment about snow.

I thought of Havana - hot, sultry Havana, with its perpetual summer, warm, tropical breezes, palm trees, and...poverty and oppression. I thought of John F. Kennedy, of Che Guevara, of Fidel Castro, of Nikita Khrushchev. I thought of Bay of Pigs and Missile Crisis and all of those Americans and Cubans who wondered if they'd wake up to see the sun rise the next morning or if they'd die not knowing that the politicians had sold their innocent souls for power and greed. Everything I know about the homeland of Aroldis Chapman revolves around these things.

That very tall, very young man sitting in front of cameras in a room full of people whose language he doesn't speak appeared nervous and shy even when he broke into his big, dream-fulfilled smile. All the talk about the man's character is b.s. That table stood two transatlantic flights and a courageous decision from where the dream began, and just sitting at that table showed his character.

I hope someday soon the embargo is lifted (and the Marlins move to Havana so we can go on awesome baseball vacations!) and relations are normalized so Cubans can start to lead lives that aren't mired in missed opportunities. Until then, young men like Aroldis Chapman will continue to have to make decisions us Americans can't even imagine - leave behind our family and friends to fulfill our dreams and destinies or stay and forever wonder what might have been.

I also hope we'll stop thinking of this man as the Cuban defector and start thinking of him as an ace in a rotation of aces, and maybe, if the baseball gods have finally forgiven us, a (whispers) future Hall of Famer? (I'll settle for a World Series game winner!)