Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Why All the Ys? (YASIEL SABE), But Here's My Theory

One of the strangest phenomenon’s of the Castro regime in Cuba was the sovietization of peoples names.  For some crazy reason, a hybrid of Russian/Spanish names have been invented, causing a unique and confusing splattering of first titles that many can’t make sense of nor pronounce.  We see it in the Cuban influx of baseball players during the past decade.  The Cuban community has seen it for a little more than a quarter century now.

1960's Cuba/Russia Friendship Poster

Call them the “Generation Y’s” from Cuba.  A very popular blogger from the island, Yoani Sanchez, a 38 year old woman that puts herself at risk regularly with her anti-government posts, came up with the “Generation Y” moniker to identify themselves.  In fact, that is the title of her fascinating blog: “GENERACION Y” found at www.desdecuba.com.  Cuban authorities have shut it down more than once, but it’s a “must” read for those interested in seeing how life is lived on the island.

Sanchez, another “Y” child, believes that the “Y” names and other bizarre and unique hybrid names found in Cuba, became popular through attempts of the citizenry to usurp creativity that has been lacking for five decades now.  It’s a way in which they outwardly show some support for the revolution, by inflicting a Russian name upon the world while at the same time they have the freedom to create something new.  It’s a strange phenomenon.  Cuba is one of the world’s final Marxist regimes in operation.  Naming your child something different is a way of “flexing ones creative muscles without running afoul of authorities.”    (Source: 2008 NEWSWEEK article linked HERE)   

Many Cubans had contact with Russian advisors over the years with such names as Yuri, Yakov, Yasha, Yan, Yevgeni, Yurik, and Yalens.  Friendships developed.  Children were named after such friends.  Then the creativity kicked in and the hybrid names developed.  Custom names often beginning with the next to last letter in the alphabet.

The children blessed (though some may say cursed) with such unusual names were mostly born in the 70s and 80s and are now adults.  Some I have come to know, such as my wife’s niece, Cuban born and Nicaraguan raised.  Her name is “Yunaisy.”  Other generation Y types have emerged in the spotlight, such as Cuban Olympic boxers Yuriorkis Gamboa and Yan Barthelomy.  And we have seen many on the MLB stage now. 

Cuban fighter Yuriorkis Gamboa

There are some humorous stories told amongst Cubans regarding the preponderence of names starting with “Y.”  There’s one of a nurse that said a woman gave birth to a daughter, her 5th, and each child had a name starting with the 25th letter of the alphabet.  She didn’t have any idea what to name her newborn.  She told the nurse in Spanish:  “Yo ni sé” which translated means, “I don’t know” what to name her.  And then it hit her, “Yonise” thrown together into one word.  She had a name. “Yonise” it was.

Others tell of two brothers that attended a Miami high school.  One named Yuesnavy (U.S. Navy) and Yuesmail (U.S. Mail).  I’m not sure if there’s any truth to the story, but it’s funny, nonetheless.   

So there you have it folks:  my theory as to why the Dodger right fielder is not named Jose Armando Puig or Pablo Antonio Puig, but instead known simply as “YASIEL.”  The same can be said for “Yoennis” Cespedes, “Yasmani” Grandal, “Yunel” Escobar, “Yuniesky” Betancourt, “Yoslan” Herrera,and  “Yunesky” Maya.  A well known Cuban broadcaster that passed away in 2004 by the name of Eduardo Martin became fed up with the unusual names.  He reported that he had announced over 400 crazy “Y” names of Cuban “peloteros” and by the end he was done, saying on one live broadcast: “and now to the plate comes another impossible name to pronounce.” 

Yuneisky Betancourt, utility infielder

Well at least the Cuban Dodger pitcher on the roster doesn’t have a “Y” name.  He’s got that super common latin title of “ONELKI” Garcia.   

This leaves us longing for the days of Cuban baseball greats with easier names like:  Humberto (Bert) Campaneris, Antonio (Tony) Perez, Orlando (el Duque) Hernandez, Octavio (Cookie) Rojas.  Can you imagine Yaktonio Perez or Yuneisky (Cookie) Rojas?  Sort of has a ring to it, doesn’t it?

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