Cuba is perhaps the country with which the United States has had the longest lasting troubled relationship. Dating back to the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis, the public's response to Cuba is often visceral and negative. Our response to baseball is similarly visceral and positive. Baseball has inspired songs, jingles, poetry, and some of our most beloved movies. When the relationship with Cuba collides with the sport that is perhaps our nation's most cherished, the result is bound to be explosive.

Consider this: our relationship with Cuba in the last decade has included the shooting down of civilian aircraft by the Cuban Air Force, the Helms-Burton Act which tried to expand the Cuban embargo, and the Elian Gonzales saga. Yet, at the same time, numerous Cuban baseball players have made their way to the United States and to Major League Baseball (MLB).

This article will examine several issues at the intersection of Cuba, the United States, and baseball. Inevitably, and sometimes unfortunately, dealings with Cuba involve politics. The first part of this article will examine the broader politics and laws governing the relationship between the United States and Cuba regarding baseball. This section will examine the experience of the Baltimore Orioles in their travels to Cuba to play baseball and their hosting the Cuban National Team in the United States. This section will also analyze the controversy caused by the Orioles when they announced that they would not hire Cuban defectors.

The second part of the article will focus on the narrower issues raised when Cuban defectors come to the United States and want to play baseball. This section will review the history of Cuban player defections to the United States and then focus on the recent court case brought by a Cuban player against Major League Baseball alleging discriminatory rules regarding free agency.

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Andrea Schneider is a professor at Marquette Law School teaching ADR, Negotiation, Ethics, International Law, International Conflict Resolution and Art Law. She is the author or co-author of numerous books and book chapters in the field of dispute resolution. She serves as the editor of ADR Prof Blog.