When two once-in-a-generation talents appear in the SAME generation.
Whose side are you on? pic.twitter.com/p1JjLip4Gb
— MLB (@MLB) August 8, 2017
It’s less than 10 hours away.
Every year, MLB’s trade deadline occurs on July 31st – tormenting us up until the final moment at 4 pm, Eastern time. MLB instituted the trade deadline in 1923, in response to moves made by the New York Yankees and Giants during several previous years that put other teams at a competitive disadvantage. Thus, both the American and National Leagues implemented a uniform rule on non-waiver trades prior to the 1923 season. (Its always the Yankees, isn’t it?)
On Friday, the Orioles traded away Hyun Soo Kim, one of my favorite players. I was bummed. It’s hard when your favorite players are traded away. (It’s even harder when they go to a team you don’t really much care for.) In order to survive, however, maybe we need to start reinterpreting what a trade is.
Old definition: A trade is a heartbreaking disruption of the perfect balance achieved by the personalities on your favorite team, presumably to improve the post-season chances of one of the teams involved, but generally resulting only in heartbreak and not always a World Series championship.
New definition: A trade is a new opportunity for your favorite players, who clearly were not appreciated by the heartless owners of your favorite team. You still are not likely to win the World Series, but at least now you don’t have to hear rude MLB analysts saying mean things about a guy who was not given a fair shake on your team or watch the players’ stats dwindle along with their playing time.
Or something along those lines. (Never mind the fact that that doesn’t seem to be the case with Kim.)
You see, don’t look as a trade simply as a removal of one of your favorite players to another team, obviously without your permission. Let’s face it, often, your favorite team has pretty much mistreated said favorite player by not giving him enough playing time, not paying him what he deserves, not saying nice enough things (in your opinion) about him, etc. Favorite Player, now that he has been traded, will likely be better appreciated and have more playing time in his new city. Even if it is a city you despise. It’s not his fault. It’s the fault of the evil ownership of your favorite team.
Of course, the trades may not be over by the end of the day – meaning there will be more opportunities for our hearts to break. Teams may still negotiate trades until midnight (Eastern time) on August 31. (Any player added to a team’s roster after August 31 will not be eligible for the postseason.) After today, however, players have to clear waivers before a trade becomes final. In other words, other teams (in reverse order of the standings) will have the opportunity to claim the player first. If a player is claimed during the waiver period, the original team can choose to keep the player on its roster or send the player to the team that claimed it.
No matter how we convince ourselves that trades can be a good thing, however, we can’t help feeling like this:
Below are the bobblehead giveaways at MLB ballparks this August:
|1-Aug||Red Sox||Billy Joel (with special ticket purchase)|
|3-Aug||Giants||Giants-themed Dancing Bear bobblehead (Greatful Dead Tribute Night – special tickets required)|
|3-Aug||Pirates||Charlie Brown bobblehead (special ticket)|
|3-Aug||Red Sox||Jackie Bradley, Jr.|
|4-5-Aug||Reds||Elvis Bobblehead (special ticket)|
|4-Aug||Angels||Trout MVP Season: Bobblehead 2 of 3|
|4-Aug||Giants||Game of Thrones Giants Bobblehead (special tickets required)|
|5-Aug||Astros||Jeff Bagwell “Batting Stance” HOF Bobblehead|
|5-Aug||Indians||Lou Boudreau Replica Statue|
|5-Aug||Tampa Bay||Marvel Iron Man Bobblehead|
|6-Aug||Reds||Game of Thrones Dragon Bobblehead (special tickets required)|
|11-Aug||Miami||Superhero Night Bobblehead (special ticket)|
|12-Aug||Rangers||Pudge Rodriguez Baseball HOF Bobblehead|
|13-Aug||Miami||Billy the Marlin Birthday Bobblehead (special ticket)|
|13-Aug||Miami||Billy the Marlin Hula Dancer Figurine|
|15-Aug||Brewers||Bernie Iron Throne Bobblehead (special ticket)|
|15-Aug||Cubs||Kris Bryant MVP Starting Lineup Figure|
|17-Aug||Cubs||“Starting Aces” Bobblehead|
|18-Aug||Braves||Hank Aaron Replica Statue|
|19-Aug||Astros||Triple Bobblehead featuring Biggio, Bagwell, and Hampton|
|19-Aug||Pirates||Gregory Polanco El Coffee Bobblehead|
|19-Aug||Rangers||Adrian Beltre Starting Lineup Figurine|
|19-Aug||Royals||Memorable Moments Bobblehead Series: Kevin Appier|
|21-23-Aug||Reds||Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket Raccoon (special ticket)|
|22-Aug||Angels||Trout MVP Season: Bobblehead 3 of 3|
|22-Aug||Cardinals||Tom Lawless mini bobblehead (special ticket)|
|25-Aug||Cardinals||Mystery Hall of Fame Manager Bobblehead|
|26-Aug||White Sox||White Sox Stormtrooper Bobblehead|
|29-Aug||Nationals||Bryce Harper Starting Lineup Action Figure|
|31-Aug||Giants||Giants player-themed runner bobblehead (special ticket)|
|31-Aug||Giants||Italian-themed Lou Seal bobblehead (special ticket)|
Richard Hidalgo was shot in the forearm during a carjacking attempt in Venezuela in 2002. Three years later, kidnappers demanded $6 million for the release of Maura Villarreal who had been taken from her home in Ocumare del Tuy, outside of Caracas. Villarreal was rescued unharmed. In 2008, however, Carlos Simon Blanco Sanchez was murdered by his kidnappers in Venezuela. In 2009, an 11-year old and his uncle were kidnapped on the way to the boy’s school (but were later released as police were closing in); Jose Castillo was attacked by armed men as he left a luxury hotel; and Elizabeth Mendez Zambrano was kidnapped nine days after her nephew was abducted and killed.
What did these individuals have in common? They all had ties to Major League Baseball: an outfielder, a former player, and players’ moms, son, cousin, brother, and brother-in-law. In 2013, another player’s family – his father, mother and youngest brother – were unharmed in a kidnapping attempted in Valencia, Venezuela.
The nonprofit Venezuelan Observatory of Violence identified Venezuela as the second most murderous nation in the world in 2016, noting that there were more than 28,000 homicides in Venezuela that year – a rate of 91.8 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. According to the U.S. State Department, kidnapping is “a major criminal industry” in Venezuela and while there are no official counts of the number of “it is believed that kidnapping cases remained constant during 2016, as with 2015.” In 2011 alone, more than 1,000 people were kidnapped in Venezuela. One of them was a Major Leaguer. Still, it would take a little more than four more years before the majority of MLB teams would close their training academies in the country.
Recently, major leaguers from Venezuela have begun speaking out about the problems in Venezuela. Francisco Cervelli, Salvador Perez, and Miguel Cabrera are just a few of the players who have made statements about the current situation. Other Latino players have also shown their support.
With the increasing tensions between the U.S. and Venezuela, and the upcoming deadline for a vote on the new legislature, these issues are sure to remain in the news. With the increasing involvement of major leaguers, perhaps more of us will be informed of what is happening internationally and perhaps something can be done to assist those living in Venezuela during these challenging times.
I think Aaron Judge hitting the roof of Marlins Park counts for one of the best baseball stories of the week. As Sports Illustrated reported:
Venezuela was back in the U.S. public consciousness recently, if only for a brief moment. Earlier in the week, Miguel Cabrera posted several videos on social media speaking out against the violence and unrest in Venezuela. On Monday he stated, “I am tired of hearing that they are going to kidnap my mother, and I don’t know whether it is a policeman or a bad guy, I don’t know who they are. All I know is if I don’t pay, those people disappear.”
Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio declined to participate in the All Star festivities celebrating Latino players in MLB, noting: “Unfortunately, conditions in my country prevent me from traveling.”
“No puedo celebrar mientras los jóvenes de mi país mueren luchando por ideales de libertad [I can’t celebrate when young people of my country are dying for their freedom].” – Luis Aparicio
So what’s going on in Venezuela, and why do we know so little about it? For these Venezuelan players and those who support them, it’s a matter of freedom. For those of us who pay little attention to Venezuela, we need to be educated on the issues. Next week, I’ll post more of the background of the political and economic issues in Venezuela, as well as the role MLB has played in that country.
Not your average baseball fan, not your average sociologist
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