Cuba’s first MLB game since 1961 was a Nats win

(John Bazemore/AP)
Dan Haren, in Atlanta. (John Bazemore/Associated Press)

The Associated Press published a quirky little piece this week about the first Major League Baseball game shown in full on open-air Cuban television since 1961. Cuban TV, the AP reported, sometimes shows MLB highlights, and higher-end cable has ESPN and Fox programming. A new show called “Baseball International” has also “shown professional play from leagues in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Mexico and other Latin American nations.”

But until this week, it had been more than a half-century since a complete MLB game was shown on over-the-air channels.

The odd twist? The game in question was nearly two months old. And it featured a shut-down start from Dan Haren, as the Nats topped the Braves, 3-1, behind eight innings from Haren and two doubles from Denard Span, who scored the team’s first run and drove in the others.

More from the AP:

It was unlike a normal U.S. broadcast, stripped of commercials and lasting just an hour and a half or so. Cuban commentators provided color and play-by-play over the original English, which could be heard faintly in the background….

“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.

I guess she’d have rather watched Yunesky Maya? Anyhow, this should still lead to a generation of Cuban kids whose favorite team is the Nats and whose favorite player is Span, if I’m figuring correctly.

(Via Big League Stew, via Reader Mike)

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.

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Dan Steinberg · July 2, 2013