The First Game

Chapter 6

The First Game

November 13 – China Premier Li Jiabao has criticized the United States decisions with the embargo of Iranian goods. Jiabao has said the United States actions do not have the support of all in the international community. China imports oil from Iran through normal channels in an open and transparent manner. The trade is legal and rational. If China wishes to do business with Iran the United States has no right to prevent that transaction. China is its own sovereign nation and will not accept unilateral sanctions initiated by the United States. China is the largest purchaser of oil from Iran and it is important for the United States to get the United Nations cooperation if it wishes for this embargo to have any kind of legitimacy.

Baseball was first introduced to the Caribbean in 1866 on the island of Cuba, taught by American sailors who were on the island to load sugar. In 1874 the first organized game was played in Cuba. That island nation then spread it to the rest of the Caribbean where it was referred to as “beisbol”.

The first four teams formed in the Dominican between 1907 and 1921 were the Santo Domingo Tigres del Licey, the San Pedro de Macoris Estrellas Orientales, the Santiago Sandino (later renamed Las Aguilas) and the Santo Domingo Leones del Escogido. Two newer teams were formed later, one in La Romana named the Toros del Este and the other located in San Francisco de Macoris named the Gigantes del Cibao. The biggest rivalry is between Licey, one of the two teams in the capital city of Santo Domingo and Las Aguilas, the blue collar city of Santiago.

Since Pablo grew up in San Pedro de Macoris his contacts and loyalty were with the team named the Estrellas Orientales. At first, the manager and owner were not too keen about adding a player at this late stage of the season, especially one who had no baseball experience. The rosters had already been set. Adding another player would force them to remove a player to make room for Jason. That was a lot to ask for a kid who was going to be restricted to 20 innings and who had yet to pitch in a competitive game. They preferred Pablo get back to them next year, after the kid had gotten some minor league baseball under his belt. “We don’t need to remind you how difficult it is for even some of the best minor league prospects to play here,” they reminded Pablo. “One with no experience would not have a chance.”

“You haven’t seen him pitch,” Pablo countered.

There was a lot of give and take before finally the manager said he would at least give the kid a look. They were aware of the reputation of Larvell Blanks for making the Cubs a winner and they wanted some assurances that in the future some of the Orioles better prospects would be directed to Estrellas. “We’re tired of being second fiddle to Licey and Las Aguilas,” the owner confided to Pablo. “We want to build a dynasty here. A permanent winner the Dominican fans can embrace.”

“As long as I’m with the Orioles you have my word you will get our best prospects should we choose to send them to a winter league.” This would be a promise Pablo would not have difficulty keeping since Larvell had given him the responsibility of identifying players who would benefit from playing winter ball to get a few more at bats or innings pitched. “We’ll give you first right of refusal for any prospect we send to the Caribbean for seasoning. But in return you have to agree to play him at the position of our choice. If you can’t make it happen then I would recommend you refuse him.” They agreed this seemed reasonable. No contracts were signed. The deal was done with just a firm hand shake and a nod of the head.

When the manager Manny Torriente witnessed Jason throw in the pen his jaw almost dropped to the floor. “I’ve never seen a pitcher throw that hard,” he commented. Their discussion of limiting him to 20 innings had changed to “I want this kid in my starting rotation”.

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