Well now that the World Baseball Classic has past. And it has no doubt faded off long into the memories of most. Especially considering the United States’ team’s ever so disastrous efforts in the tournament. Now I’m not going to lament on what went wrong there. As it’s best left to the likes of Tommy LaSorda. He knows better than most how ineffectual the team actually was.
It’s now coming more the fore as to how much of a conflict and corruption there now is when it comes to recruiting young players from the Caribbean and the South American continent into the major leagues. So much so that even when The Mitchell Report touched on the matter it was somewhat ignored. Those of who were interested as to the content of the report were primarily concerned as to what it have to say with regard to the players involved in the steroid abuse scandal.
That situation in of itself continues unabated and it hasn’t helped that the game’s biggest star Alex Rodriguez has admitted to using steroids. And whilst the player has offered what one would deem a contrite apology to the fans , public , his teammates and the New York Yankees’ organization. The latest rumors surrounding the player only exacerbates the situation even further . Added to the fact that he’s lost to the team before the regular season begins due injury and surgery.
This has become nothing but an unmitigated disaster for Major League Baseball. Their effort to try and clean up the game has been about as effective as throwing a half empty kerosene gas can into fire thinking that nothing will actually happen. And with evidence now swirling around that young players in particularly from the Dominican Republic have been used as pawns in the deceptive practice of enticing big league teams to pay exorbitant sums of money in terms of a signing bonus to effectively have a player sign with them. It only adds further to a percolating pot of misdeed and plain ineptitude within the upper ranks of the game’s hierarchy. And it certainly hasn’t helped that officials from within some of the major organizations might well have been involved are infact implicated in payoffs to the buscones /agents (facilitators) who offer the players to the teams.
This all emanated from the Esmailyn Gonzalez scandal that exploded with the player having signed with the Washington Nationals. Not only had the player’s birth certificate been falsified with regards to his age. But a large amount of money exchanged hands between the team , the player in terms of his signing bonus. But also with the agent getting his cut. It’s believed that also several of the Nationals’ own staff profited from this by way of a cut from the money that was paid to the player. It’s not uncommon for this to happen within the lower echelons of organization if it’s deemed to be happening amongst a team’s scouting staff. But what makes this all so unpalatable is that it is believed that in the case of Gonzalez . It may have involved the team’s general manager at the time Jim Bowden and his special assistant Jose Rijo . And while both are no longer with the team with Rijo having been fired and Bowden re-signing while proclaiming his innocence as to any wrongdoing. The facts speak for themselves as very little was done to verify the player’s records. Much less they, themselves conducting their own internal investigation.
While on appearance this may not seem a serious transgression. Consider the fact once money was pocketed by anyone within the organization who wasn’t entitled to it. It then becomes a federal offense and as such is indictable by law. And with the FBI now conducting its own investigation into what it is believed to now be a widespread practice throughout the league. One has to ask the question. What is going on behind the closed doors of Major League Baseball and its franchises ? If there’s now that much widespread corruption from the top down then surely the game’s own hierarchy ought to be looked at as well ?
And most certainly this isn’t an isolated incident as far as a player lying about their age. As several of the game’s top stars. Who in this case happen to be from the Dominican Republic have either had their records falsified or actually lied to their respective team at the time in order to be signed at the same in order to obtain the signing bonus. What no one knows is the extent of the subterfuge that may or may not have taken place at the time to elicit the transaction that took place. Suffice to say that players such as Miguel Tejada , Vladimir Guerrero , Rafael Furcal, Bartolo Colon, Ervin Santana and Octavio Dotel have previously understated their age in order that were signed by their prospective teams when first entering the big leagues. One can surmise that had they not offer up that morsel of information then it would’ve gone undetected.
As to the practice itself and how it’s conducted in the Dominican Republic. One can understand that the facilitators themselves the lure of obtaining a player who they’ve groomed to play in The Big Leagues. It’s viewed as their meal ticket to prosperity. And with a never ending supply of young player all willing to be a part of it all. There’s no end to the willingness to make this all a profitable endeavor for those willing to participate on both sides of the bargaining table. For these young players it is their dream to escape the poverty on the island. And the dream of playing in the majors is indeed a hard thirst to quench. So should they actually make it there then it becomes all the more satisfactory that the thirst is quenched. In the Dominican Republic where its GDP (gross domestic product) USD45.8 billion and the earning per capita US$ 5132-00. A signing bonus for $1m is immeasurable and ensures a life of luxury for their extended family. What’s unfortunate however is the lengths to which some will go to ensure that many of these players are enticed to sell their souls so that other are able to profit. That’s not to say that they aren’t able to fully comprehend what’s happening. But all too often they’re often kept in the dark as to true extent of what’s going on. Either through naiveté or the fact the parties involved other than the player are only all too willing to make the deception on the surface above board and legal.
That web of deceit and lies as it now stands appears to be the gift that keeps on giving, giving and keeps on ticking. And the fact of the matter is baseball was only all too willing before it got caught with its hands in the cookie jar, to act as if nothing wrong had been going on. .
Needless to say that the game’s hierarchy will once again deny that it knew anything as to what had been going on. But if the likes of the players named earlier in this piece were are able to get away with one subterfuge enacted under their very nose. Then who’s to say that they weren’t aware of it all to begin with ? The same stance has been taken with regard to the steroid issue. And we all know how much the game , the owners and the players profited from it all. Much to the dismay of the fans who stood by and were unable to do anything about it all. The same thing is now happening again we’re none the wiser. And so too it appears is Major League Baseball when it comes to acting responsibly and with any semblance of intelligence.