Sometimes, a baseball game comes along that reminds you of why you love the game so much.
Today, watching the exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban baseball team, reminded me of not just why I love baseball, but why I love sports.
Yes, the baseball game was almost like a prop in a larger political scheme, but let’s not undermine the magnitude of this game. For the first time since 1998, Major League Baseball played a game in Cuba, a country with whom the USA has not had a great relationship (to put it lightly). After the travel ban to Cuba was lifted, MLB made the decision to play a spring training against the Cuban National team.
Sitting side-by-side for the first part of the game was President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro. Seeing these two leaders laugh and cheer on their country’s respective teams was a sight for sore eyes. Slowly but surely barriers are being broken down and relationships are being mended (and two presidents actually did The Wave). Regardless of your political affiliations, you have to admit that it is pretty cool that Obama got to watch a baseball game in Cuba. Yes, the Cuban government needs to change, and there is understandable trepidation over reaching out to Cuba. I don’t want to get political with this post, because that will just piss people off, but it was encouraging to see these two countries building bridges, even if it was over something as simple as a game of baseball.
Sports are wonderful because they are one of the best ways to unite people. During the Olympics, athletes from all over world are united and the entire world watches. We don’t look at athletes from different countries and think about how much America is supposed to hate them – we marvel at how fast they can run, swim, ski, or skate. In a way, sports bring out the best in humanity because it allows us to bridge the divides in our everyday life. It can be a small gesture, like talking about the Yankees with the man sitting next to you with whom you would never normally speak, or it can be as important as playing a baseball game in Cuba.
No matter what horrific things are happening in the world, no matter what stresses we are facing, no matter how hard life can get, we have sports to momentarily take all of that away. For three hours, fans are united in cheering for their teams, their favorite players, and coming together for a wonderfully unique experience unlike any other.
Man, thank God for sports.