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The U.S. and Cuba Provide an Excuse to Watch Sports at Work

For the first time in 17 years, a Major League Baseball team plays a game in Cuba Tuesday.

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Each March, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is a typical excuse to watch sports during the workday. Now you have another: For the first time in 17 years, a Major League Baseball team is in Cuba to play an exhibition game, with the Tampa Bay Rays taking on the Cuban national team at Estadio Latinoamericano Tuesday afternoon.

The baseball diplomacy is part of the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba, and U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to attend. It follows a four-day goodwill trip to Cuba in December by several major league players, including stars Clayton Kershaw, Cuban-born Yasiel Puig, and Miguel Cabrera.

The Obama administration recently made it easier for Cubans to play in the big leagues, allowing them to legally earn American salaries. In the past, many Cubans defected to play ball in the United States, a move that effectively made it impossible for them to ever return to the island — or for their families to get even temporary visas to leave the country.

The game comes hours after terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium, left at least 34 people dead. Obama condemned the attacks in a speech in Cuba Tuesday morning.

The game coverage begins at 1:30 p.m., Eastern time, and can be seen on Watch ESPN. It will be broadcast in English and in Spanish; you can find that here.

Photo credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

 

David Francis was a senior reporter for Foreign Policy, where he covered international finance. @davidcfrancis

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