Arizona Columnist Jokes About Cuban Baseball Player’s Immigration Struggles


Yasiel Puig defected from Cuba to play Major League Baseball. (Credit: AP)

The Dodgers celebrate in the Diamondbacks' pool.

The Dodgers celebrate in the Diamondbacks’ pool.


The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched the National League West division title Thursday afternoon with a win in Arizona, and after a brief celebration in the visiting locker room, the Dodgers came back on to the field and went swimming in the pool behind Chase Field’s right field fence. That didn’t sit well with the Diamondbacks, mainly because baseball has a long list of mostly dumb unwritten rules and this supposedly violated one of them (“Don’t put a pool in the outfield of a Major League Baseball field” hasn’t been added to the list yet, apparently).

The celebration also led to an unfortunate tweet from and Arizona Republic columnist Bob Young, who probably thought he was being funny here:

Get it? It’s funny because Dodgers’ rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig, one of the most intriguing stories of the 2013 season, was apprehended multiple times (too many to count, he has said) in his attempts to emigrate from Cuba to the United States so that he could make money playing baseball. It’s also funny because Puig may have — and I stress may have, because no one knows for sure — gotten help from drug cartels to make it to Mexico before ultimately coming to the U.S. And, oh yeah, all Latinos are involved with drug cartels. Hilarious.

It didn’t take Young long to “apologize.” He was “just commenting” on Puig’s “multiple tries to get from Cuba to U.S. and that (a) cartel may have aided him.” Nothing to see here!

I don’t know Bob Young from the next Arizona Republic columnist, and my guess is that this is more a mistake in trying to be funny than intentional racism. But this is bad, and not just because Puig’s story is so remarkable or because so many Cubans, ballplayers and not, have struggled with the same journey. The claims that Puig finally made it to Mexico because of a notorious drug cartel were raised by some in Yahoo’s excellent account of Puig’s travails but have never been substantiated by anyone. Those ties are nothing more than whispers and probably never will be, since Puig doesn’t talk much about how he got here.

It’s also bad because Young’s newspaper is the voice of Arizona, a state with one of the largest Latino populations in the country, and he managed to insult all of them somehow. That’s no good for Young, and it’s no good for his paper either. This sort of casual racism is obviously wrong for the stereotypes it perpetuates and the ignorance it spreads. It’s also bad because it doesn’t help a news outlet like the Republic or reach a significant population it covers and wants to reach, one that already faces major discrimination in that state.