Final Score: Cuba 12, China 0
World Baseball Conflict of the Game: The diplomatic feud between Castro and Mao in 1965-66
You would think that Cuba and China would be the best of friends. They’re both Communist. They’re both, uh…well okay, that’s their only similarity. But still, it’s a pretty big one.
Well, you would think wrong. Sure, they got along well enough at first, after the Cuban revolution in 1959. But the commu-honeymoon didn’t last for long. Fidel Castro started trying to reconcile the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union after Nikita Kruschev was deposed, but China was having none of it. After a few failed attempts at diplomacy in Beijing, Castro started calling China some mean names and accusing China of spreading some mean anti-Cuba propaganda. Relations grew increasingly frigid, culminating in the collapse of economic negotiations in 1966.
Relations reached a low point when Castro gave a speech likening Mao to the most despicable thing of all… a Yankee. Presumably, that was so insulting because of the Yankees’ very poor record of 70-89 in 1966.
Whatever he meant, it’s clear that Castro was the victor in this war of words. To quote from that long academic paper I linked to above (which everyone should meticulously read in order to properly appreciate the historical context of the WBC), “China did not directly parry the attacks.”
Now, let’s skip over about 47 years of history in which China and Cuba have generally had a very positive relationship…to today. In what was an obvious extension of Castro’s 1966 anti-China oration, Cuba humiliated China 12-0 in a World Baseball Classic pool game. Cuba kept scoring runs, and China kept not parrying those attacks.
With Sino-Cuba relations again in tatters and no Soviet Union for the Cubans to turn to this time, Castro’s Astros (as their team should be known) are left friendless and alone. But at least they advanced to the second round.