07 March 2013
Politics and Baseball: The Death of Hugo Chavez and Cowardice of the Miami Marlins
As some of you may know, and I would guess that many of you, dear readers, do not, the World Baseball Classic is currently taking place. The WBC is an international tournament that takes place every 4 years during Major League Baseball's spring training season. It is commonly accepted that "baseball" countries other than the United States take the WBC more seriously than most Americans (both players and fans) do. This can be clearly seen by the players who choose to participate, with many top talent American players skipping the tournament while players such as Miguel Cabrera leave their major league training camps to represent their home nations.
It is no accident that I bring up Cabrera. He is a native of Venezuela. The Venezuelan national team (with Cabrera) played an exhibition game against the Miami Marlins on March 5th. Prior to the game the Venezuelans requested a moment of silence to honor recently deceased leader Hugo Chavez. This request was denied, with the cited reason by the Marlins being there was "not enough time".
I love the game of baseball, but I will also be the first to admit that it is not the most action packed sport for the casual observer. "Not enough time", is that really the best the Marlins management could come up with? The 3 hour broadcast must have been too packed with adds for McDonald's "Fish McBites"? (Which have a ridiculous and somewhat hilarious jingle, you can listen to it here) to include a moment to honor a fallen world leader?
Why do the Marlins, and by association Major League Baseball have such a hard time being honest? They probably don't want "America's Game" associated in anyway with a leader who was openly critical of American consumerism, of US leadership as well as US foreign policy, not to mention being a self described socialist, and having a record of nationalizing most major Venezuelan industry and conducting major land reform.
I could easily argue that Chavez did a lot of good in Venezuela, and that many people there are far better off than they were before he came to power. It would be completely in line with the general theme of this blog to make such statements. For some statistics on the improvements under Chavez please see this chart, posted on a blog I read regularly.
The truth is that I don't know as much as I should about Chavez and Venezuelan politics, and I don't want to comment where I don't have anything informed to contribute. What I do want to add is that I think this is just another example of cowardice and poor leadership by the Marlins organization. Either state that Chavez was not popular in the United States and you don't want him honored in your stadium, or accept that Chavez was a major world leader, and honor the Venezuelan team's request for a moment of silence before the game.
Bottom line; if a US leader was to pass away while in office and one of our national teams was denied a moment of silence to honor him during a sporting event in a foreign country we would likely go to war over it. I don't think the Marlins ownership has the right to deny something like this to team Venezuela, and if they are going to deny the request, they should at least have the cojones to admit that they are doing it for a reason other than "being short on time".
This is just the latest in a long line of examples of the Marlins ownership/management treating baseball fans like we are a bunch of idiots, that rant will have to wait for another post. I sincerely hope this becomes a major problem for the team. From what I know, no one deserves the negative attention more. Marlin's owner Jeffrey Loria and his management team should be ashamed of themselves.