There are baseball highlight shows in Cuba and tourists can get cable broadcasts in the hotels, but no full-length Major League games have been shown on over-the-air TV in Cuba since 1961. At least until now:
Cubans got to watch something on their television screens this week that this baseball-crazed island hasn’t seen in more than half a century: a Major League Baseball game broadcast in its entirety on the open airwaves. But the early reviews were not overly enthusiastic. The game turned out to be a nearly 2-month-old matchup between two teams that boast none of the defected Cuban stars who islanders are most eager to follow.
I’m waiting for someone to write the “baseball ratings in Cuba stink because baseball is dying” article, sidestepping the fact that the game lacked any angle of local interest. Well, that and the fact that the game was two months old.
Noted in the article is the strong likelihood that Cuba did not obtain the express written consent of Major League Baseball before rebroadcasting and retransmitting the pictures, descriptions and accounts of this lame Nats-Braves game. So I assume MLB will send its investigators from Miami farther south to take care of business, Selig-style.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.