The Rays are currently making history with a trip to Cuba that marks the normalization of relations between the US and our neighbor to the south. While understanding that the Cuba is still governed by a repressive regime and that some Cuban-Americans remain opposed to this visit, Rays fans can be very proud to see their team playing a part in this event.
There are so many reasons the Rays and their fan to be excited about this trip. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the Rays organization to get extensive international press, and meet the many political and business leaders who are part of this visit. There are even kind words from the MLB Commissioner:
The players seem genuinely thrilled and cognizant of the impact this visit and their game can have. No doubt their experiencing this together provides positive team bonding experiences far beyond those created by a shared bus trip to Kissimmee as they head into the 2016 season.
We’ve summarized some recent posts and tweets as US political, business and baseball delegations have arrived in Havana.
First, President Obama and his family were kind enough to provide some advance work for the Rays:
Cubans watch as Air Force One approaches landing at José Martí Int'l Airport in Havana, Cuba, earlier Sunday.pic.twitter.com/NxvoNmTmhW— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) March 21, 2016
President Obama arrives in Cuba with family, becoming first sitting U.S. pres to visit country in nearly 90 yearshttps://t.co/u8nepaVPPs— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 20, 2016
But as far as we know, they have not accepted Chris Archer’s lunch invitation:
Well, @FLOTUS, your husband didn't respond about hanging out in Cuba. Maybe you and I could get a café or something? Lmk if you're free.— Chris Archer (@ChrisArcher22) March 19, 2016
No doubt the emotional high point of the day was Dayron Varona’s reunion with family. Varona had defected from Cuba to try his hand at the MLB, most likely fearing he might never see loved ones again.
The Rays awaited word after discussions with the Cuban government to ensure that Varona could come – and go – with no difficulties.
But all the Rays players were filled with anticipation. Uh, Hank? Hank?
The rest of the team managed to stay awake:
And take in the (rainy) scene this morning:
Rays staff came early on Sunday:
Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) March 20, 2016
As did local journalists, who had the chance to check out the city:
...and seemed especially taken by the "Hot Corner" of the city's "Central Park" where baseball fans' knowledge of Cuban and US baseball is high:
Oh yeah, some other former players showed up, too:
...and now we'll be ready for some baseball, with Dayron Varona leading us off: