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The 1999 meeting between Cuba and the Baltimore Orioles did not go well for the major league squad.

The Baltimore Orioles, led by their owner Peter Angelos, made a bid at international diplomacy in 1999. After a large push by Angelos, Major League Baseball and the Cuban government (along with a little help from the State Department, I'm sure) agreed to play a home-and-home series between the Cuban national team and Angelos' Orioles at the start of the season.

The first game was played in Havana in March before a roaring crowd of 50,000-plus. Angelos was joined in the front row behind home plate at Estadio Latinoamericano with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and Cuban leader Fidel Castro. After the home team tied it up in the bottom of the 8th, the crowd was treated to a 3-2 Baltimore victory when an 11th-inning single from Harold Baines scored Will Clark from second. It was a thrilling but, ultimately, predictable game.

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July 13, 2012 5:00 am

Raising Aces: Back to The Futures Game, US Team

9

Doug Thorburn

Evaluating the mechanics of the US pitchers in last Sunday's Futures Game.

The pitching staff for the U.S. team was stacked for last Sunday's Futures Game, setting up a showcase of former first-round draft picks to satiate the All-Star appetite. The pitching rotations were pre-set on both sides, with starters Jake Odorizzi and Yordano Ventura representing the hometown Royals in a first-frame showdown. Three of the top four picks of the pitcher-heavy 2011 draft were on the U.S. roster, with Trevor Bauer's recent big-league promotion the only thing preventing a clean sweep of the historical top four, and the crew was joined by the top arm of the 2010 draft, Jameson Taillon. The aces-in-training put on a spectacular show, and I was extremely impressed by the mechanical profiles that Team America had on display.

Jake Odorizzi (Royals-AAA)
Odorizzi had a somewhat boring delivery, which is higher praise than it sounds, as the absence of a weak link offset any lack of an elite mechanical tool. Slow early momentum set up a late burst as he shifted gears near foot strike, and the right-hander showcased strong balance as he entered the rotational phases of the delivery. His posture was inconsistent on Sunday, with late spine-tilt that was more pronounced on curveballs than heaters, though the difference was subtle and his posture was respectable overall. Despite the postural inconsistencies, Odorizzi was able to repeat the timing elements of his delivery with a calm approach into foot strike that set up a storm of rotational velocity. The only mechanical issue was a lack of hip-shoulder separation, with late-firing hips that stuttered before rotating toward the plate, triggering the rotation of hips and shoulders in near-unison.


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As the bidding on Yoenis Cespedes begins in earnest, take a look back at some prior prospects from Cuba who tried to make the major-league leap.

While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audiencesend us your suggestion.

It's hard to know what to expect from a free agent from Cuba, but as we wait to see what Cespedes will be, we can take a look at how his countrymen fared courtesy of the John Perrotto article reproduced below, which originally ran on February 15, 2007.

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October 26, 2010 8:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Miguel Montero

1

David Laurila

The Diamondbacks' catcher discusses coming to the United States, life in the minor leagues and relating to pitchers.

When  healthy, Miguel Montero is one of the better-hitting catchers in the National League. Regardless, he is among the more personable. A 27-year-old native of Caracas, Venezuela, Montero was signed by the Diamondbacks in 2001 and climbed steadily through the system before making his big-league debut in 2006. After hitting .294/.355/.478 in 2009, he was limited to 85 games by a knee injury in 2010 and saw his slash line drop to .266/.332/.438. Montero talked about his climb through the ranks, including learning to speak English in Montana, when the D-backs visited Fenway Park this past summer.


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July 27, 2010 8:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Julio Borbon

2

David Laurila

The Rangers' center fielder talks about what it is like to experience both the Dominican and American cultures.

Julio Borbon is a multi-cultural player in a multi-cultural game. The speedy center fielder came to the Rangers via the University of Tennessee, but he spent his formative years in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Borbon talked about his Latin-American upbringing, and the baseball-crazy cultures of the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, when Texas visited Fenway Park earlier this month.

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The Dodgers coach discusses coming to the United States, his playing experiences, and those who influenced him.

Manny Mota is known to most baseball fans as one of the best pinch-hitters of all time, but he might be better described as one of the game’s finest ambassadors and gentlemen. A coach for the Dodgers since 1980, the 71-year-old Mota came to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1957 and went on to play for the Giants, Pirates, Expos, and Dodgers for 20 big-league seasons, retiring with a .304 lifetime average and 150 pinch hits. He encountered prejudice along the way, having emigrated to a country that didn’t see racism totally disappear with the breaking of baseball’s color barrier a decade earlier.

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November 21, 2008 12:53 pm

Nippon Prospectus

10

Mike Plugh

An old friend pops back in with news from across the great blue sea, with NPB news for you and me.

Though divided, on it rushes,
And at last unites again.

-Emperor Sutoku (from Ogura Hyakunin Isshu)

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February 10, 2008 12:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Tim Cox

0

David Laurila

Former Red Sox prospect Tim Cox talks about his decision to return to Australia, and his participation in the Claxton Shield tournament.

Last year at this time, Tim Cox was getting ready for spring training, a 20-year-old left-hander coming off a season where he had posted a 2.80 ERA over 103 innings for Boston's Low-A affiliate. Today he's back in his native Australia, and while he's still throwing plus curveballs, he has no plans to return to the United States to pursue a big-league career. Cox pitched for the New South Wales Patriots in the just-completed Claxton Shield, where he was named pitcher of the year after allowing only three runs in 24 innings. David talked to Cox about the Claxton Shield, some of the best young players in Australia, and why he decided to give up his dream of pitching in the big leagues.

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May 4, 2007 12:00 am

Lies, Damned Lies: Defining a Market, Part Two

0

Nate Silver

Nate's attempt to determine a market size for every major league team continues, with stats on attendance and television spheres for all the clubs.

I hope yesterday's part one didn't lose you guys, because now for the (comparatively) fun part: our team-by-team breakdown. In addition to the attendance and TV estimates from my model, I have provided a comparison to the Mike Jones figures, and also the raw census data from each team's primary MSA. The numbers in parenthesis represents a team's relative market share (with 100 representing league average) and its rank among the 30 clubs in that category.

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February 15, 2007 12:00 am

International Prospectus

0

John Perrotto

With a number of organizations deeply invested in Japan, the Pirates look for Cuban arms to help pull them out of the cellar.

If you don't believe it, just think back to a few months ago when the chat rooms, talk shows, and highlight shows were filled with news of the posting for Daisuke Matsuzaka by Seibu Lions, the spirited bidding war that ensued, the Boston Red Sox winning that bidding at a whopping $51,111,111.11 and the subsequent negotiations than ended with Dice-K signing a six-year contract worth $52 million.

Throw in the $26,000,194 the New York Yankees paid through the posting system to the Hanshin Tigers in order to sign left-hander Kei Igawa to a five-year, $20-million contract, and Japan has clearly replaced Cuba as the nation major league clubs look to for quick fixes.

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March 24, 2004 12:00 am

World Cup Comes to Baseball?

0

Nathan Fox

In 1980, the world witnessed a hockey Miracle. In 1999, the United States watched its down-and-out Ryder Cup team explode into a jarring celebration on the 17th green. We love international competition. In 2005, we're hoping to see a rumored World Cup of Baseball. So, as is our wont, we've started poking into some numbers. Assuming the World Cup comes to fruition, and assuming (big assumption) everybody plays, how might the teams stack up? So far, it's been all U.S. On the hitting side, we named eight starting position players to come up with each team's total MLVr+D, a crude measure of hitting and defense, measured in terms of runs plus or minus Major League average. We focused only on those countries with a sufficient number of players in Major League Baseball to field teams: the U.S., the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico (treated as a separate country just for fun), and Venezuela. At the end of our analysis it was readily apparent that Team U.S.A., and even a Second Team U.S.A., had more than enough firepower to cover the competition--so we posited a "World" team made up of all other countries except the U.S. mainland.

So, as is our wont, we've started poking into some numbers. Assuming the World Cup comes to fruition, and assuming (big assumption) everybody plays, how might the teams stack up?

So far, it's been all U.S. On the hitting side, we named eight starting position players to come up with each team's total MLVr+D, a crude measure of hitting and defense, measured in terms of runs plus or minus Major League average. We focused only on those countries with a sufficient number of players in Major League Baseball to field teams: the U.S., the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico (treated as a separate country just for fun), and Venezuela. At the end of our analysis it was readily apparent that Team U.S.A., and even a Second Team U.S.A., had more than enough firepower to cover the competition--so we posited a "World" team made up of all other countries except the U.S. mainland. Still, Team U.S.A. came out on top:

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March 11, 2004 12:00 am

World Cup Comes to Baseball?

0

Nathan Fox

Talk of a World Cup of baseball, potentially starting as early as 2005, has inspired early speculation about what the lineups might look like. The team from the Dominican Republic promises to be a monster. Vlad, Manny, Pujols, Sosa, Pedro--yeah, that's going to be tough. Tough enough to threaten the U.S.A.? I caught the Errol Morris documentary "Fog of War" recently, which offers 11 lessons from the life of Robert S. McNamara, seven-year Secretary of Defense under Kennedy and Johnson. McNamara, one of the celebrated "Whiz Kids" who brought the science of modern management to a struggling postwar Ford Motor Company, was an early adopter of quantitative analysis. McNamara's Lesson Six: "Get the data." A World Cup of baseball is hardly the Cold War, but the McNamara in me relishes any opportunity to take the 2004 PECOTA Weighted Mean Projections out for a spin. Data? We've got data.

I caught the Errol Morris documentary "Fog of War" recently, which offers 11 lessons from the life of Robert S. McNamara, seven-year Secretary of Defense under Kennedy and Johnson. McNamara, one of the celebrated "Whiz Kids" who brought the science of modern management to a struggling postwar Ford Motor Company, was an early adopter of quantitative analysis. McNamara's Lesson Six: "Get the data."

A World Cup of baseball is hardly the Cold War, but the McNamara in me relishes any opportunity to take the 2004 PECOTA Weighted Mean Projections out for a spin. Data? We've got data.

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