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The Orioles’ trip to Cuba in 1999 was approved by the U.S. State Department, as was the Cuban all-stars’ visit to Baltimore (the Cubans won, 12-6) some five weeks later. The general idea was that friendly cultural exchange, even if it’s a brief symbolic gesture via the escapist entertainment of sports, is a more positive way to exist in the world, as opposed to decades of rigid, enforced enmity and isolation.

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