The Tampa Bay Rays will play an exhibition game against the Cuban National Team at Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana today. Game time is 1:30PM EDT and it will be on ESPN.
It’s certainly not your usual exhibition game. Given the historic signifigance of the game, the international relations aspects to all of it and the presence of the highest government officials, some pomp and circumstance is in order. To that end:
- Ceremonial first pitch honors will be shared by two great Cuban right-handed pitchers: Pedro Luis Lazo, a longtime standout for the Cuban National Team and Pinar del Rio, and Luis Tiant, a three-time All-Star during his 19-year Major League career with the Indians, Twins, Red Sox, Yankees, Pirates and Angels.
- A combination of Cuban and Major League umpires will work the game, four Cuban umpires and two American umps. The Cuban umpires will be Elber Ibarra (HP), Juan Jose Cuevas (2B), Jorge Luis Perez (LF) and Luis Felipe Casana (RF). The two Major League Umpires will be Angel Hernandez and Laz Diaz. And please, save your Angel Hernandez jokes: he was born in Havana. No matter what you think of how he does his job, this is a significant personal moment for him and that’s way more important.
- In addition to Obama, Castro and all of the other stuff, Joe Torre, Dave Winfield, Derek Jeter and Cuban native Jose Cardenal will be on hand as special guests.
All in all, a lot different than a Rays game which takes place in Port Charlotte.