First full MLB game broadcast on over-the-air TV in Cuba since 1961

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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.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”