MLB hits Cuba | The Players’ Tribune

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

MLB players make a goodwill trip to Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Chip Litherland/The Players' Tribune)

It is almost impossible to make a bad photo in Cuba, not that these are all great, but the country is so amazingly photogenic and beautiful, you can pretty much hang you camera out the window of your cab, press the shutter and something decent will come out. It was my first time making the trip, even though the country is a 45 minute flight from my house in Florida – 2015 changed the landscape for us as Americans to go and see it while it is still the Cuba that has unchanged for decades.

I spent a few days last week in Havana, Cuba with MLB and the MLBPA for The Players’ Tribune as they brought professional baseball players back to Cuba for a historic goodwill trip allowed by both governments. Some of these players had defected from Cuba to play in the major league and had to be told that they would be allowed to leave if they made the trip. The whole trip was a huge undertaking – especially when you’re talking about some of the biggest names and biggest money in baseball – Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreu, Miguel Cabrera, Clayton Kershaw, among others. They were greeted by hundreds of fans who swarmed them every chance they stepped out into public. Most of my time was spent following the players along as they made appearances, hosted workshops with young baseball players, and toured the sites.

It was amazing to be a part of a trip, but also be a part of history as relations open up between the US and Cuba after decades of closed borders. The people were so welcoming, the infrastructure (albeit crumbling in many spots) and architecture was so beautiful to be around, and there is nothing like the light cutting through street scenes that would make most photographers salivate. The country is bracing itself for change as cell phones make their way into the culture and tourism is inevitably going to change the dynamics of the economy and experience there. It is a fascinating place and definitely now is the time to go if you want. It has always been a place on my must do trips with a camera, but now it’s on the must go back to list. Next time I hope to have some time to travel around get lost and make photos with just a rangefinder hanging around my neck.

Cuba is how I would paint the world if I could.

 

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