Baseball, apple pie, and a Mexican drug cartel

Los Angeles Dodgers' Yasiel Puig peers out from the dugout during the first inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Phoenix. The Dodgers defeated the Diamondbacks 8-5. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

Suddenly, baseball has a new drug problem, and it’s making performance enhancing drugs look small time.

Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers is one of the most exciting and enigmatic players in baseball, and now the story of how he escaped from Cuba has been told. He was smuggled out by a Mexican drug cartel, Los Angeles Magazine reveals.

The smugglers held him to extract more money from a Miami crook who arranged to have him taken from Cuba in exchange for getting 20 percent of Puig’s future earnings. But the cartel demanded more money. So Puig was rescued from his Mexican hiding place by a gang organized by the Miami man.

In an article today in the Los Angeles Times, Bill Plaschke notes there’s plenty to be worried about.

• The story reports that late in the summer of 2012, the smugglers still wanted their money, and threatened to harm Puig unless he paid. Now that Puig is a multi-millionaire, are the smugglers still involved, and could that involvement one day lead to Dodger Stadium?

• The story notes that in the fall of 2012, one of the smugglers was killed, execution-style, after Puig allegedly complained about the harassment to his former agent, Gilberto Suarez. Could there be revenge involved, and could that one day lead to Dodger Stadium?

• The story details how Pacheco will be given 20% of all of Puig’s future earnings in a deal that is not unusual for desperate Cuban players. Does these mean that the rumors of Pacheco’s appearances around the Dodgers last year were true? Is this Miami man quietly pulling the strings on Puig’s turbulent life?

All of this smuggling, of course, is brought to you by the U.S. embargo on travel to and from Cuba.