Final Score: Netherlands 7, Cuba 6
World Baseball Conflict of the Game: The Dutch role in preventing the Cuban Missile Crisis
This, ladmen and gentleladies, is why the World Baseball Classic is wonderful. A baseball powerhouse against a baseball upstart; the New World against the Old and the Old Baseball World against the New. Someone named Kalian Sams hitting a walk-off sac fly.
If you have been an assiduous follower of The Zimmerman(n) Telegram’s WBC coverage (FOR SHAME if you have not), you’ll clearly remember my comrade’s coverage of the last CUB-NED game, which was an obvious metaphor for Dutch adventures in 17th century Spanish Cuba. For this post, the foreign power the Dutch are dealing with in Cuba will be not the Spanish, but the Soviet Union. We’re later in the World Baseball Classic, so the metaphor is later in time. Obviously.
You remember the Cuban Missile Crisis. That time when the world was probably the closest it’s ever been to nuclear annihilation? Yeah, that one. The Dutch had as much of an interest in that not happening as everyone else, so they put their diplomats on the case. They helped out the U.S. by providing them information on happenings in Cuba, and even tried to serve as a mediator between Fidel Castro and the U.S. The helpful Dutch diplomacy contributed in a small way to diffusing the crisis, thus ending Cuba’s position as a country that everyone cared about.
Just like this victory ended Cuba’s WBC run and ensured that no one would have to care about their baseball team for another four years. Had the Netherlands failed to win this game, would it have meant a nuclear apocalypse? We’ll never know for sure.