Presumably while Penn State students were rioting about a football coach (and not about the crimes that had been committed) and a Republican presidential candidate was forgetting his lines (and not getting much help from his colleagues), a young MLB hopeful was being kidnapped in his home country of Venezuela. And although this is apparently not the first time this has happened, it’s the first time any real attention has been paid to it in the media (or maybe its just the Washington media).
Last night, the Washington Nationals’ catcher Wilson Ramos was kidnapped in his home in Venezuela by four gunmen. According to the Washington Post, kidnappings in the South American country are quite common: “Ramos is believed to be the most high-profile baseball player kidnapped in Venezuela, but the rash of abductions has touched the baseball world there before. In 2008, the brother of Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Henry Blanco was kidnapped and killed, his body found a day after he was taken. In 2009, Texas Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba paid a ransom to get his son back, and pitcher Victor Zambrano’s mother was rescued in a raid.”
As a sociologist, I need more facts to draw any conclusions. However, at the moment, I have many questions: Are these kidnappings related to the individuals’ associations with MLB (and the billions of dollars that represents)? If so, what is MLB doing about it? What is the U.S. doing about this kind of violence in Venezuela and other countries? Why is this incident less important to the media than a bunch of college kids in Pennsylvania?
I’ve been working on blog posts on the winter leagues and other “off-season” activities, so over the next several weeks we will be taking a closer look at Venezuela and other countries where baseball is played during the MLB off season. In the meantime, here’s hoping that Ramos and any other kidnap victims are returned safely and someone can put an end to this violence.