Burgos: On the cultural adjustment faced by Cuban ballplayers

From Roger Wallenstein at The Beachwood Reporter on June 24, 2013, with mention of SABR member Adrian Burgos Jr.:

The ball was hit fairly hard, but Alexei Ramirez still had time to get into position to field the bouncer off the bat of Alcides Escobar. Getting a force at second base would end the Royals’ eighth-inning threat and preserve a victory – and a three-game sweep over Kansas City – for the stumbling White Sox.

Sorry, folks. This is 2013, and what used to be more or less routine has presented unprecedented challenges for this season’s edition of the White Stockings. If you watched yesterday, Ramirez let the ball go through him into left field, two runs scored, and the Sox lost again 7-6.


It would be understandable to slam Ramirez, who is having a lackluster season. Sure, he’s hitting .277, right at his career average. But he hasn’t homered since the season’s second game, and he has just 14 RBI after averaging 73 over his first five years with the Sox. And he ranks near the bottom of shortstops when it comes to defense.

But this is a guy who knows adversity, which has to be the most overused noun in sports.

LeBron James talks about adversity, but what does he know? Ramirez and his fellow Cuban countrymen in the big leagues have experienced adversity in a real sense, whereas LeBron can always retreat back to Akron from whence he came.

But Ramirez can’t go home to his native Cuba from which he defected at age 26 almost six years ago.

University of Illinois professor Adrian Burgos has studied and written about Cuban ballplayers walking away from their lives in hopes of a big contract and notoriety in the big leagues.

He wrote a book, Playing America’s Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line, where he calls Alexei, Dayan Viciedo and other Cuban ex-pats as “men without a country.”

Read the full article here: http://www.beachwoodreporter.com/sports/alexei_knows_adversity.php

Originally published: June 24, 2013. Last Updated: June 24, 2013.