Yuniesky Gourriel has never been nor will he ever be -a star on the baseball firmament. Unlike his brother Yuliesky, the center fielder is not a wonder at the plate, nor impresses by a strong arm and the ability to steal bases. However, life has given him an important mission.
While Yuliesky is playing in the powerful Japanese League with other main players of the island, Yuniesky breaks the ice in a more modest scenario, but key for the future short term. Because Canada lacks a championship with the gloss of the Japanese, but is much closer to the United States. That is in baseball what Brazil is to football or Scotland to whiskey.
But first things first. That is, a recognition and a diploma without applause to the idea of allowing National Series players to take part in professional leagues in different latitudes. Something that (it seems obvious) should never have been banned in an island where the sport is such an idiosyncrasy thing as Santeria, and where the athlete, as well as the Paraguayan or Cypriot, eats, drinks and has a family to attend to.
Anyway, the unfortunate restriction is over and players don’t need Alfredo Despaigne´s talent to play abroad. No sir. To live out of baseball all you need is a little luck along the way and the ability to find the right space. Hence the cracks are making a career in the MLB and Nippon League, while the players more discreet try to earn a living in more discreet places.
This is the case of the eldest son of former star Lourdes Gourriel. After more than ten seasons with the Sancti Spiritus Roosters and the Industriales, the boy has started to think of his future savings with the Quebec Les Capitals of the independent Can-Am League.
Most interesting of all was by explained ESPN.com: the Canadian team is involved in a tournament that plays an interleague schedule with 13 teams from the United States, so it visits USA territory several times each season. And even if the US blockade against Cuba is ever-present, the precedent is more than stimulating, as Yuniesky visited the American Embassy on July 31 to receive the work permit authorizing him to take part in the matches played in stadiums of that nation.
Is this the first stone on the path to knock down the absurd wall forcing the Cuban player to defect if they intend to enroll in the majors? For now, the outfielder has it clear:
“God willing we will play legally. That’s what we all want. (…) It was the start of something that can be very large. (…) The dream of everyone is now improve and if that’s the best baseball in the world, I think all baseball players want to play there. “
There lays the key issue, and Yuniesky Gourriel sums it by saying that the goal is that the Cuban players can compete in the MLB on the same terms and conditions that players from other countries. I was never an admirer in national fields; now applaud with hands and feet from my uncomfortable chair at work. And I even send an acknowledgment without diploma, to be serious.