BOSTON — The idea seemed harmless. Send the Baltimore Orioles to Havana for a historic exhibition game against Cuba's national team, and schedule a return game in Baltimore. But instead of welcoming the game, anti-Castro groups are up in arms. They worry that Cuban dictator Fidel Castro may profit from the exchange. "It's our hope that this exchange can help people in the two countries come together," says Orioles spokesman Joe Foss. So while some protest, others will be saying "Play Ball!" March 28 in Cuba and May 3 in Baltimore.
Q: Who will be left behind on the Cuba trip?
A: American League umpires. Just last week, they filed grievances to prevent the league from sending them to Cuba (and also to block implementation of the new strike zone, which is two inches higher).
Q: Will the game still be played if the umpires don't go?
A: Yes. "If the umpires are not inclined to go, they won't be invited to go," says Sandy Alderson, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner's office. Instead, they may use four Cuban umpires.
Q: What will happen to the money made on the games?
A: The US government says that profits will go to nongovernmental humanitarian aid for Cubans.
Q: Which major league teams played in Cuba in 1959?
A: The Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers. The game was played before the Castro revolution and was the last time major league teams have played in Cuba.
Q: Will wooden or aluminum bats be used?
A: Wooden. Cuban officials say the team will switch from aluminum to wooden bats this weekend to prepare for the game with the Orioles and the coming Pan-American Games in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
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