Twistity Sports Exclusive: Watching Baseball, From Here And Afar

History In The Making In the early 1970s, the United States helped build a bridge to China with what was called “ping pong diplomacy.” A U.S. table tennis team...


History In The Making

In the early 1970s, the United States helped build a bridge to China with what was called “ping pong diplomacy.” A U.S. table tennis team was invited to China in 1971 and became the first visiting delegation from the US since 1949.

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On Tuesday afternoon, the Tampa Bay Rays will play baseball in Havana, Cuba, as the U.S. and Cuba try to warm a relationship long ago gone cold. Cuban players long have been a part of Major League Baseball, though they now must defect and leave family behind to play at the highest level (and salaries).

A day at the ballpark will not solve the world’s problems, end the bitterness so many Cuban-Americans feel about what happened to their homeland under Fidel Castro or change the political argument about opening doors to the small island nation so long under an American embargo because of its Communist dictatorship. But baseball diplomacy and the ballpark isn’t the worst place to start.

I don’t expect that a game at Estadio Latinoamericano will much resemble the one I attended on Monday in Jupiter, Fla. Estadio Latinoamericano is 70 years old and the home of Cuban baseball. Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter is the spring home of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins. There are no political overtones to anything that goes on in that stadium (except the capitalist ability to wrest $8.75 from patrons for a beer brewed in the Cardinals’ hometown).

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There wasn’t anything historic about the Red Sox 4-3 win over the Cardinals. There may be something historic about Tuesday’s game in Havana. The past dies slowly and the future may never be born, but perhaps there can be a relationship between the U.S. and Cuba.

Sunshine, blue skies and baseball will always leave a person hopeful.
 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman

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