Don’t expect the Majors to benefit from Cuba’s liberalized rules for athletes

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Last week waves were made when Cuba announced that it would allow athletes to compete in foreign professional leagues. Many of our first reactions were along the lines of “Awesome! Now ballplayers won’t have to risk their lives and families to play here! They can come and go! It’s the best of both worlds!”

Except it’s not. At least not for them playing in the United States. Because, as The Economist reminds us today, the rules Cuba announced — allowing athletes to play in foreign leagues as long as they pay taxes to Cuba — would lead to a violation of the United States’ embargo on Cuba if the players were on U.S. teams:

The United States’ trade embargo bans any transaction that would fund the Castros’ government. As a result, the requirement that Cuban athletes playing abroad pay local taxes on their income would prevent MLB clubs from signing players who plan to comply. Only outright defectors would be cleared to suit up.

They could play in Japan. Or in Mexico’s summer league. But not in the U.S. At least not unless they defected like they currently do. Any player wanting to walk the straight and narrow under Cuban law, maintaining his home there and place on the Cuban national team, would be better served avoiding the U.S. majors.

Maybe the top of the top — the guys who could command deals only U.S. teams could afford — will still come here. But it will be via defection, same as it is now. And the idea that more borderline, Triple-A types would come here is hard to see given that they’d have a much easier time of it in Japan or Mexico or someplace else.

Which, while not a top-5 reason to support the repeal of the embargo on Cuba, is yet another reason why it’s pretty stupid in this day and age.

Orioles set new MLB record with 259th home run allowed

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Update (9:04 PM EST): The game went into a rain delay with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning of a 2-2 tie, so the game isn’t official yet. Which means the Orioles aren’t yet the official record holders.

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A third-inning solo home run by Austin Meadows off of Asher Wojciechowski on Thurday night marked the 259th home run Orioles pitching has allowed this season, setting a new major league record, per MASN’s Roch Kubatko. The previous record was held by the 2016 Reds at 258. Willie Adames hit No. 260, a game-tying solo shot in the fifth inning. The Orioles will have 34 more games to add on to their record after tonight.

The Yankees have famously accounted for 61 of the 260 home runs (23.5%) against Orioles pitchers this season. The Red Sox are next at 28 followed by the Twins and Blue Jays at 23 each.

David Hess has accounted for the most home runs on the O’s staff, yielding 28 dingers. Dylan Bundy is next at 25 homers allowed.

The Orioles are not the only team that will pass the 2016 Reds. The Mariners are on pace to allow 275 home runs. The Yankees, 266. Phillies, 262. Angels, 259. Pretty amazing.