Venezuelans go to the polls next month with Mr Chávez, who models himself on Fidel Castro, another baseball obsessive, in pole position to win another six-year term.
One of the greatest concerns among the middle class, who increasingly steer their sons towards baseball academies rather than academic college, is that Mr Chávez will close the domestic professional league and restrict the rights of sportsmen to play in America. Ron Rizzi, a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers, has served the game for 39 years and has been coming to Venezuela to watch players for the past decade. He said: “Chávez is so anti-US that he may inhibit players’ ability to get there. If he wins the election they might have to come out on a boat.”
What would happen if this were to occur? Would Santana, Abreu, and a host of others defect? Would we have a situation like with Cuban players? Am I the only one who doesn't want this to happen?
"That's the thing: Maybe he'll be up and down this season, but when he's up, is there another center in the league quite like him? He protects the rim, passes out of double teams, has great hands around the basket, up-fakes on his jump-hooks, rebounds in traffic, even has a motor that keeps going and going (unlike a stiff like Eddy Curry). I'm not sure what's missing here. This is stunning. This is startling. There's almost no precedent for it. Just what the Lakers needed: More obscenely good luck. Meanwhile, I have to watch Al Jefferson whip jump-hooks off the front of the rim for the third straight season. I will now pour scalding hot water down my pants." -Bill Simmons on Andrew Bynum (11/08/06)
Do you think that those guys would defect? It's hard to think they would leave thier families behind (if that's the case). But maybe the love of the game and the lives they have here, plus financial benefits. Very big story indeed.
Is he so anti-America that he doesn't welcome American money? Abreu will make 17.5 million in 2007. If he's sending some of that home and it's spread around the country (via local businesses) that's only gonna help them.
Rusty Shackleford is just the name he uses to order Pizza with.
When the Venezuelan government shuts down Citgo (or, as Joe Carter once described it (C IT GO) distribution in the U.S., then I'll think he might shut down baseball. Until then, it is probably just falls into the category of election hyperbole, like people threatening to move out of the U.S. if the election doesn't go their party's way.
The sad thing is, had he not melted down and had he led the M's to the playoffs, I could have really seen Mike Hargrove getting the AL MotY honors this year. I don't think the M's would have hit the wall they did if Hargrove had been there at the end.