Stat-urday, 7/22/2017

venezuela_flagSince we’ve been looking at Venezuela for the past week, I thought I’d provide an overview of Venezuelan-born players (as compiled from Baseball Reference):

Total Number of Players from Venezuela: 369
Current No. of Players from Venezuela: 97
Total Games Played by Venezuelan Players: 118,274
Total At-Bats: 331,646
Total Hits: 88,033
Total Home Runs: 7,337
Total RBI: 38, 347
Combined Batting Average: 0.265

The current players from Venezuela are listed below.

Happy Stat-urday!

~ baseballrebecca

Player Name Debut Birthplace
Ehire Adrianza 2013 Guarenas, Miranda
Jesus Aguilar 2014 Maracay, Aragua
Jose Altuve 2011 Puerto Cabello, Carabobo
Jose Alvarado 2017 Maracaibo, Zulia
Jose Alvarez 2013 Barcelona, Anzoategui
Alexi Amarista 2011 Barcelona, Anzoategui
Elvis Andrus 2009 Maracay, Aragua
Orlando Arcia 2016 Anaco, Anzoategui
Carlos Asuaje 2016 Barquisimeto, Lara
Luis Avilan 2012 Caracas, Distrito Federal
Franklin Barreto 2017 Caracas, Distrito Federal
Andres Blanco 2004 Urama, Carabobo
Gregor Blanco 2008 Caracas, Distrito Federal
Silvino Bracho 2015 Maracaibo, Zulia
Asdrubal Cabrera 2007 Puerto La Cruz, Anzoategui
Miguel Cabrera 2003 Maracay, Aragua
Leonel Campos 2014 Valera, Trujillo
Carlos Carrasco 2009 Barquisimeto, Lara
Ezequiel Carrera 2011 Guiria, Sucre
Francisco Cervelli 2008 Valencia, Carabobo
Jhoulys Chacin 2009 Maracaibo, Zulia
Robinson Chirinos 2011 Punto Fijo, Falcon
Willson Contreras 2016 Puerto Cabello, Carabobo
William Cuevas 2016 Caracas, Distrito Federal
Elias Diaz 2015 Maracaibo, Zulia
Jairo Diaz 2014 Puerto La Cruz, Anzoategui
Alcides Escobar 2008 La Sabana, Vargas
Eduardo Escobar 2011 Villa de Cura, Aragua
Wilmer Flores 2013 Valencia, Carabobo
Freddy Galvis 2012 Punto Fijo, Falcon
Avisail Garcia 2012 Anaco, Anzoategui
Jeanmar Gomez 2010 Caracas, Distrito Federal
Carlos Gonzalez 2008 Maracaibo, Zulia
Marwin Gonzalez 2012 Puerto Ordaz, Bolivar
Juan Graterol 2016 Maracay, Aragua
Deolis Guerra 2015 San Felix, Bolivar
Junior Guerra 2015 San Felix, Bolivar
Franklin Gutierrez 2005 Caracas, Distrito Federal
Cesar Hernandez 2013 Valencia, Carabobo
Felix Hernandez 2005 Valencia, Carabobo
Gorkys Hernandez 2012 Guiria, Sucre
Odubel Herrera 2015 San Jose, Anzoategui
Ronald Herrera 2017 Maracay, Aragua
Ender Inciarte 2014 Maracaibo, Zulia
Greg Infante 2010 Caracas, Distrito Federal
Arcenio Leon 2017 Maracaibo, Zulia
Sandy Leon 2012 Maracaibo, Zuila
Jose Lobaton 2009 Acarigua, Portuguesa
Dixon Machado 2015 San Cristobal, Tachira
Jean Machi 2012 El Tigre, Anzoategui
German Marquez 2016 San Felix, Bolivar
Jose Martinez 2016 La Guaira, Vargas
Victor Martinez 2002 Ciudad Bolivar, Bolivar
Miguel Montero 2006 Caracas, Distrito Federal
Diego Moreno 2015 Higuerote, Miranda
Omar Narvaez 2016 Maracay, Aragua
Rougned Odor 2014 Maracaibo, Zulia
Jose Osuna 2017 Trujillo, Trujillo
Eduardo Paredes 2017 Valera, Trujillo
Gerardo Parra 2009 Santa Barbara, Zulia
David Peralta 2014 Valencia, Carabobo
Jose Peraza 2015 Barinas, Barinas
Carlos Perez 2015 Valencia, Carabobo
Hernan Perez 2012 Villa de Cura, Aragua
Martin Perez 2012 Guanare, Portuguesa
Salvador Perez 2011 Valencia, Carabobo
Yusmeiro Petit 2006 Maracaibo, Zulia
Manny Pina 2011 Barquisimeto, Lara
Ricardo Pinto 2017 Guacara, Carabobo
Jose Pirela 2014 Valera, Trujillo
Martin Prado 2006 Maracay, Aragua
Edubray Ramos 2016 Caracas, Distrito Federal
Wilson Ramos 2010 Valencia, Carabobo
Felipe Rivero 2015 San Felipe, Yaracuy
Eduardo Rodriguez 2015 Valencia, Carabobo
Francisco Rodriguez 2002 Caracas, Distrito Federal
Miguel Rojas 2014 Los Teques, Miranda
Bruce Rondon 2013 Valencia, Carabobo
Hector Rondon 2013 Guatire, Miranda
Adrian Sanchez 2017 Maracaibo, Zulia
Anibal Sanchez 2006 Maracay, Aragua
Hector Sanchez 2011 Maracay, Aragua
Yolmer Sanchez 2014 Maracay, Aragua
Pablo Sandoval 2008 Puerto Cabello, Carabobo
Luis Sardinas 2014 Upata, Bolivar
Antonio Senzatela 2017 Valencia
Miguel Socolovich 2012 Caracas, Distrito Federal
Yangervis Solarte 2014 Valencia, Carabobo
Eugenio Suarez 2014 Puerto Ordaz, Bolivar
Jesus Sucre 2013 Cumana, Sucre
Tomas Telis 2014 El Tigre, Anzoategui
Luis Torrens 2017 Valencia
Jose Torres 2016 Caracas, Distrito Federal
Ronald Torreyes 2015 Libertador, Distrito Federal
Luis Valbuena 2008 Caja Seca, Zulia
Ildemaro Vargas 2017 Caripito, Monagas



Baseball in Venezuela, Part 3

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.

~ baseballrebecca

Baseball in Venezuela, Part 2

Travel warnings for Venezuela, Government of Australia

Since April this year, nearly 100 people have died in clashes with Venezuelan security forces during mass protests, with thousands more injured and hundreds arrested. Protesters have denounced plans for a “Constituent Assembly” to replace the National Assembly and are demanding early presidential elections. In recent months, the political and economic situation in Venezuela has deteriorated to the point where Major League Baseball players have joined the call to end to the oppression of the Venezuelan people. As the Latin American nation becomes more unstable economically and more dangerous to visitors and citizens, it is important to understand the issues and why even baseball is affected. The Washington Post summed up the conditions in Venezuela as follows:

“Venezuela is a powder keg. Once a rich country held together by strong leadership and heavy social spending, it is now in economic disaster and could slide into widespread social disorder, triggering instability throughout Latin America. Drastic shortages of food, medicine, electricity and other necessities are causing small riots. Organized crime and extrajudicial police killings have given Venezuela a frighteningly high rate of murder and violence.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department noted, “The United States deplores the Venezuelan government’s increasing authoritarianism, and the convocation of a National Constituent Assembly designed to undermine Venezuela’s democratic institutions, including the National Assembly.” The Constituent Assembly is currently scheduled for a vote on July 30. Yesterday, the U.S. government announced it had begun preparing sanctions against Venezuela which it would implement if the Latin American country continues with its plans to replace the National Assembly with a new “Constituent Assembly,” which critics state simply would do the bidding of Venezuela’s President Nicholas Maduro. After Sunday’s unofficial referendum (organized by oppositions leaders) revealed that more than 7 million people in Venezuela opposed the new assembly, the White House issued a statement that said, in part, that the “strong and courageous actions [of the Venezuelan people] continue to be ignored by a bad leader who dreams of becoming a dictator.”

Although the United States established diplomatic relations with Venezuela in 1935, the relationship between the two countries has been strained in recent years. The State Department attributes the deterioration of relations to the most recent presidents of Venezuela having partly defined themselves through opposition to the U.S. government and practicing “21st Century Socialism” at the expense of the Venezuelan people and economy. Thus, in December 2016, the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning advising against U.S. citizens visiting Venezuela “due to violent crime, social unrest, and pervasive food and medicine shortages.”

While it is difficult to sum up the political issues of the past century, we can see that decades of economic decline and political instability have taken their toll. (See the timeline posted below.) Tomorrow we will review the toll this has taken on baseball and what current MLB players are saying needs to be done.

~ baseballrebecca

The following timeline includes highlights from a chronology published recently by the BBC News and other sources:

1908-35 – Dictator Juan Vicente Gomez in control at the same time Venezuela becomes the world’s largest oil exporter.

1945 – A coup establishes civilian government after decades of military rule.

1948 – A coup overthrows Venezuela’s first democratically-elected leader after eight months of rule

1958 – Leftist Romulo Betancourt of the Democratic Action Party (AD) wins presidential election.

1973 – Venezuela benefits from oil boom and its currency peaks against the US dollar; oil and steel industries nationalized.

1989 – Carlos Andres Perez elected president amid economic depression, launches austerity program. A huge increase in gas prices leads to riots, martial law, and general strike follow; hundreds killed in street violence.

1992 – Two coup attempts by Hugo Chavez and his followers

1993-95 – President Perez impeached on corruption charges.

1998-2013. Hugo Chavez elected president in 1998 amid disenchantment with established parties, launches ‘Bolivarian Revolution’ that brings in new constitution, socialist and populist economic and social policies funded by high oil prices, and increasingly vocal anti-US foreign policy. During his presidency, Chavez will nationalize several industries and sign cooperation accords with Russia. Chavez government temporarily overthrown in 2002, but pro-Chavez forces reinstall Chavez two days later. In March 2005, media regulations are issued which provide stiff fines and prison terms for slandering public figures and Venezuela ends its 35-year military relationship between the U.S. In 2010, Chavez devalues Venezuela’s currency against the U.S. dollar. Later that year, Parliament grants Chavez special powers to deal with devastating floods, prompting opposition fears of greater authoritarianism. In 2012, the Venezuelan government extends price controls on more basic goods in the battle against inflation. Chavez wins a fourth term in office, but dies in April 2013.

2013 – Nicholas Maduro elected president by a less than 2 percent margin. In November, with inflation running at more than 50% a year, the National Assembly gives President Maduro emergency powers for a year, prompting protests by opposition supporters.

2014 – Protests over poor security in the western states of Venezuela win the backing of opposition parties and turn into anti-government rallies. At least 28 people die in the ensuing violence. In November, the government announces cuts in public spending as oil prices continue to drop.

2014-2015 – Opposition figure Maria Corina Machado charged with conspiracy to assassinate President Maduro; opposition mayor of Caracas charged with plotting coup with US support. In December 2015, the opposition Democratic Unity coalition wins two-thirds majority in parliamentary elections, ending 16 years of Socialist Party control.

2016 – Three Democratic Unity deputies resign from the National Assembly parliament in January under Supreme Court pressure, depriving coalition of clear two-thirds majority that would have allowed it to block legislation proposed by President Maduro. In February, Maduro announces measures aimed at fighting economic crisis, including currency devaluation and first petrol price rise in 20 years. In September, hundreds of thousands of people take part in a protest in Caracas calling for the removal of President Maduro, accusing him of responsibility for the economic crisis.

What’s Going On In Venezuela?

Miguel Cabrera, 2011 (image courtesy of Cbl62 via Wikipedia)

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.

~ baseballrebecca

Wilson Ramos Kidnapped in Venezuela

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.

~ baseballrebecca