Puig’s Odyssey

On April 30, 2014, in Sporting News, by Buddy TB

Yassiel PuigVeteran Dodger’s announcer Vin Scully calls Yasiel Puig a ‘wild stallion’ and has taken to the Cuban newcomer to Major League Baseball as have many baseball fans across the country. Puig is something new to the big leagues and a genuine breath of fresh air to professional baseball fans in America.

Puig was a big star down in the Cuban pro baseball league, a national hero, he was making $17 a month! Really. Now he is a millionaire living in Southern California who has already lost his driver’s license for excessive speeding. Oh well, what did everyone expect? Can you imagine the changes that the young man has gone through?

Havana seems rustically romantic to visitors these days with its ancient American cars still running the streets and a retro atmosphere all round. But Yasiel Puig comes from even further back in time and space. His little pueblo of Elpidio Gomez 150 in the interior of the island has only 3000 citizens and the parched baseball field is a far cry from Dodger Stadium.  

But getting to Los Angeles was not an easy task and it appears that the drama is still unfolding for Yasiel. The story of his daring escape, at all costs from a stagnated Cuba to riches in Los Angeles is so gripping that we will likely see it at the movies someday. It was that close and it may not be over yet.

After several failed attempts to make it across the 90 miles gap that separates the island of Cuba from Key West, Puig and boxer Yunior Despaigne made their deal with the devil and contracted a notorious smuggling cartel via a shady character in Miami to get them off the island. Really, and it worked… sort of.

But instead of simply boating across the easy jump to Florida, they ended up on Isla Mujeres off the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico where they were held (captive?) for over three weeks before anything happened. But finally the move was made, although the details are still rather sketchy and Puig, along with Despaigne made their way to the USA.

No doubt about it, the folks that bankrolled Puig out of Cuba did it for business reasons. They might actually be baseball fans who thought it would be great to see him play in the big leagues, but the motivation was money. Let’s see, from $17 a month to a fat contract with the Dodgers worth in excess of forty million bucks, someone’s gonna want a piece of that one.

 

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