01/22/2006: Bush does the right thing....
"Who'da thunk it?", as Yogi Berra would have asked (well, a Google search shows a few stray attributions to Berra, vice none to either Casey Stengel or Dizzy Dean who would be the other prime suspects).
Anyway, Elayne Riggs informs us that apparently President Bush himself intervened to clear Cuba's participation in the World Baseball Classic. As reported here at DBV (and elsewhere, of course), Treasury Department regulations (and Administration policies) prohibiting financial dealings with Cuba were threatening to scuttle the Classic, when the International Baseball Federation refused to sanction the event if Cuba was not allowed to participate.
Of course, the intervention doesn't represent a change in the U.S. policies; rather, things have been arranged so that Cuba can play without ever seeing any money from their participation:
The tournament organizer's second attempt to get a license for Cuba from the Treasury Department was successful and eliminated a thorny complication, if not a fatal jolt, to the event. If Cuba had been denied again, the inaugural classic could have been jeopardized because the International Baseball Federation had threatened to withdraw its sanction if Cuba was left out.Ah well, as long as everyone is happy....
Instead, after Major League Baseball and the players union helped revise the application to guarantee that Cuba would not make American money by playing, the Treasury Department approved the license yesterday. If Cuba made money from the tournament, which runs March 3-20, that would have violated the United States' trade embargo against the country.
Administration officials said the reversal of the position came after the president became directly involved. As a former partner in the Texas Rangers, he knew, they said, that there were ways to organize the high-profile games without aiding the government of Fidel Castro.
"The president wanted to see the matter resolved in a positive way," said Frederick Jones, a spokesman for the National Security Council. "Our concerns were making sure that no money was going to the Castro regime, and that the World Baseball Classic would not be used by the regime for espionage. We believe those concerns have been addressed."
Aside from Cuba, the other 15 teams will make at least 1 percent of the net profits from the event, with those percentages escalating as teams advance. The champion will reap a 10 percent profit. But Cuba, a traditional international power and the gold medal winner in the 2004 Olympics, will get nothing.
While the Cubans said they would donate proceeds to Hurricane Katrina victims, it will not actually happen that way because that would mean they still would have received American money before transferring it. Instead, the World Baseball Classic will handle the money Cuba would have earned and will make the donation to make sure no money flows through Cuba.
Len on 01.22.06 @ 01:30 PM CST