The first thing you’ll notice is the sound. Or the lack thereof.
There is no Jumbotron, no between-inning giveaways, just bat, glove and the voice of the umpire.
Indeed, it’s usually the umpire who motions to the stadium operators to turn off the music between the inning.
In the stadium, cheers commingle with the din of horns.
Baseball in Cuba is pure, it is simple and it is raw in a way that professional baseball in America has not been for some time.
And baseball is still Cuba’s most popular sport.
It is played by cane workers, school children and baseball professionals in every corner of the island nation and is a symbol of national identity.
Baseball isn’t just a sport — in many ways, baseball is Cuba.
Cuban baseball closely resembles American baseball in both style and level of accomplishment.
The Cuban National Series generally runs from November through April with a schedule of 90 games per team in the regular season.
The series is then followed by 3 playoff rounds culminating in a championship, a series that has been played each winter since 1961-62. There are 16 teams organized in a West League and an East League. The top four teams from each league advance to a playoff, with the winner crowned in April. Two teams have dominated the National Series in recent years: Industriales and Santiago de Cuba.
These teams have combined to produce some of the best players in baseball in recent years, through a pipeline of defectors that has produced stars like Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig and Aroldis Chapman, among others.
In 1999, the Cuban national baseball team played a two-game exhibition series against the Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball.
This marked the first time the Cuban national team played against an MLB team, and the first time an MLB team played in Cuba since 1959.
The Orioles won the first game, which was held in Havana, while the Cuban national team won the second game, which was held in Baltimore.
Since the US and Cuba reestablished diplomatic relations, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred entered into discussions to hold an exhibition game between an MLB team and the Cuban national team in 2016, and on Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Rays will play the Cuban national baseball team, with President Obama set to attend.
The news comes as MLB looks to address and structure the way Cuban players come to the United States.
Will Cuban baseball ever be the same?