The story of how L.A. Dodgers star Yasiel Puig defected from Cuba to come to the U.S. to play baseball:
Given the riches that await in el exterior, it is remarkable not that so many Cuban athletes leave but that so many more stay. Nobody needs to remind them that the decision to flee is irrevocable, a one-way journey from privation to overload. “You’re afraid to leave your family, you’re afraid that maybe you won’t triumph, you’re afraid of…I don’t know, it’s just a very difficult step,” rookie infielder and Cuban defector Alexander Guerrero, in the first year of a $28 million deal, told me at the Dodgers’ spring training camp in Arizona. It took Guerrero years to build up the gumption to flee, then three attempts to succeed. “Once you board one of those boats,” he added, “you don’t know who is who and how those people are going to react, or what’s going to happen out in the sea.”
An elaborate underground of couriers and bagmen is forever shadowing Cuba’s best ballplayers. So is a state-sponsored network of secret police and paid informants. When you are being lured and monitored at every turn, caught between ambition and duty, survival sometimes means playing both sides.