"The president wanted to see it resolved in a positive way," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "Our concerns were centered on making sure that no money was going to the Castro regime and that the World Baseball Classic would not be misused by the regime for spying. We believe the concerns have been addressed."
In other words, there will be no sign-stealing by the Cuban players. However, the CIA has already infiltrated the Cuban team and has learned that one finger means a fastball is coming and two fingers means a curve. The NSA has bugged the pitching mounds in some stadiums in Havana and has learned that if the pitcher touches his belt, he's going to make a pickoff throw.
Cuba's roster is not expected to include defectors, such as Jose Contreras, Orlando Hernandez and Livan Hernandez.
Did anyone seriously think they would play? Livan Hernandez has long expressed a desire to pitch for Puerto Rico. Danys Baez said he would never pick up a baseball for Cuba. These guys didn't leave their homes just for the money.
"Cuba will step up, of that I have no doubt," said Ramon Enriquez, who was among baseball fans discussing the news at Havana's Parque Central. "Those boys will play with that all-consuming courage."
I'm guessing that the last sentence is a translation from Spanish or else Mr. Enriquez speaks in very flowery language.
U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican, called the Bush administration's reversal "lamentable and unfortunate," and said the Cuban players should defect once they reach Puerto Rico.
"I hope that the Cuban players will use this opportunity to escape totalitarianism and reach freedom in the U.S.," said Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American.
That likely won't make the event popular in Cuba.
Update-This AP story in the San Jose Mercury-News has some of the details about what the Cubans had to agree to. They can bring 30 players and 15 support staff, such as coaches and trainers, along with 21 additional people including journalists and security personnel. The players will be given $100 per diems.