The first MLB game since 1961 aired in Cuba — but it was two months old

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

Cuba, the baseball-loving country that gave us Yasiel Puig, hadn't shown an MLB game on its state TV channel since 1961. That changed Sunday.

You might think the people of Cuba got a chance to see Puig, or fellow defected MLB stars such as Yoenis Cespedes or Aroldis Chapman. In fact, it was none of those three. It wasn't even a team with a Cuban player.

It was the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals. In a game they played May 2.

According to an Associated Press report, Cubans were excited to see American baseball on TV, until they realized what it was.

''It's interesting to see how they play, but I can't say it thrilled me all that much because I don't know any of the players,'' said Diego Sierra, 67. ''I would really like to see the Cubans, see how they are developing in that league, really see how well they are doing" ...

''I watched this game for about 45 minutes and didn't think much of it,'' said Margarita Roman, a 46-year-old devotee of Havana's powerhouse team, Industriales. ''Besides, there weren't any Cubans. That's what interests us.''

''But things are changing so I hope the next step is to show a game with our compatriots, and if it can be live, all the better,'' she added.

The game was boiled down to about an hour and a half, with no commercials and Cuban announcers dubbed over the Americans. The AP said it wasn't clear whether MLB actually granted permission to show the game, or if Cuba TV just showed it without approval, as it does with other American TV.

Cuban baseball fans want to see the Cuban players because it's otherwise hard to follow their careers in a Communist country with state-controlled media, which doesn't report on defectors such as Puig and Cespedes. That could be a reason why two teams with no Cuban players were shown. Glorifying the defectors might be a no-no.

We'll find out if in another two months Cuba shows a Los Angeles Dodgers game edited so Puig strikes out every time he's up.

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