Yasiel Puig’s experience inspires Florida lawmakers to pressure MLB on its Cuban player policy

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Last week we read a couple of stories about Yasiel Puig’s harrowing journey to the United States from Cuba. Because of Major League Baseball’s rules about Cuban players and the draft, that journey required a stop in Mexico in order for Puig to be declared a free agent. And that stop in Mexico is what added some dangerous steps to Puig’s already dangerous journey from Cuba. Specifically, instead of merely evading the U.S. Coast Guard, Puig’s smugglers had to deal with drug gangs and Puig was basically held for ransom for a time.

Now two Florida lawmakers are trying to do something about that. Currently there is a bill aimed at providing funds for renovation and upkeep of pro sports facilities in the state. The representatives are filing an amendment to it to pressure Major League Baseball. From the Miami Herald:

Reps. Jose Felix Diaz and Matt Gaetz are filing an amendment to a stadium funding bill that would require the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays demand Major League Baseball change its Cuban player policy if they want state money for stadium construction or renovations . . . The amendment would also require the Florida teams demand Major League Baseball report any information they have on Floridians involved in human trafficking or smuggling of Cuban players to the state attorney general.

It would be largely symbolic, of course, because I’m guessing Major League Baseball has zero intention of making it any easier for players to become free agents no matter their circumstances. Indeed, if MLB could wave a wand right now and change things they’d make all foreign-born players subject to the draft instead. That would eliminate the bad incentives here too, but it has its own set of problems and wouldn’t necessarily be in baseball’s best interests over the long term.

But symbolic is better than noting. More attention needs to be paid to this. As it stands, escaping Cuba is already a dangerous proposition, even if the only goal is to get straight to the United States. Leaving incentives in place that lead Cuban baseball players to make their journey even more dangerous is not the wisest thing.

MLB fines and suspends Yasiel Puig two games for Tuesday’s incident with Giants

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Major League Baseball has announced that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig has been fined and suspended two games for his role in Tuesday night’s benches-clearing incident with the Giants.

Puig was upset with himself after fouling off a hittable pitch, tossing his bat up and grabbing it angrily. Catcher Nick Hundley didn’t like Puig’s expression of emotion and had a few words for him. Puig didn’t like what Hundley said and the two got into a shoving match before the benches emptied. Puig was able to get past his teammates attempting to restrain him to smack Hundley across the catcher’s mask. MLB’s press release characterizes Puig’s role as having “incited a bench-clearing incident.”

The Dodgers are off Thursday, Puig would be slated to miss Friday and Saturday’s games. However, Puig is appealing his punishment, which means he can continue to play until the matter is settled.

Hundley was fined but did not receive a suspension. If MLB’s press release were accurate, it would have characterized Hundley, not Puig, of inciting Tuesday’s benches-clearing incident. Puig was upset at no one but himself until Hundley inserted himself into the picture. Of course, this is by no means excusing Puig’s behavior as he should have been fined and suspended. But Hundley should have been suspended as well.