When Sports and Geo-politics are placed upon a collision course

Marc Elliott

Twins Willians Astudillo while  playing in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League
Twins Willians Astudillo while playing in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League

LESTER PARK… I’m not a Doctor, a political science major, and I most certainly do not have a master’s degree in Global Geo-Politics. But I have been mostly accurate over the years in my own administration of the good old-fashioned smell test. I had to perform one on the recently announced MLB decision to go along with the new additions to the United States embargoes against Venezuela that now will also include a ban on MLB players competing and training in the winter Venezuelan Baseball League.

   Of course, this failed the smell test and failed miserably. Further, I had to consider which MLB clubs might be the most impacted by this ill begotten decision and it turns out that our own Minnesota Twins just might be one of them. Any players under contract that are Venezuelan natives will not be prohibited from going home in the offseason, but usage of the hickory and horsehide while there will be a strict no-no. Of course, in the general scheme of things this is a full plate of horse manure to say the least on a variety of levels. Sports and politics have almost always made for strange bedfellows and this time around is no different. That MLB has to acquiesce to this malarkey is a sad state of subservience to an empirical power that at this point is so misguided it really defies description. If you are a US citizen unencumbered by the useless “mainstream media” and have some ambition and the resources to find out what’s really going on in the world and why, you likely have a read on this matter already.

   Earlier in the year the US government with the aid of the MSM here were whipping Venezuelan political matters into a frenzy. The matter dominated the news cycle for a time, but with the administration of the current occupant (mainly the c.o. himself) providing us with a new crisis on a daily basis, this matter has faded into the background for the time being. For starters, our government has been meddling and interfering in Central and South American countries, their politics and governance for several decades now. It’s no secret. And a great deal of this has been performed on behalf of large American Corporate interests. It’s not as if any of these countries is threatening to come north and give us a military thrashing, it’s all about resources and the money associated with them. We’ve long been embroiled in Venezuelan affairs, especially in the past 20 years and the climate between us isn’t improving.

   In 1999 Hugo Chavez was elected President of Venezuela and began what has been called the Bolivarian Revolution, in short, a social war against economic inequality. He began to address the myriad of problems this involves with governmental spending on social programs designed to address the devastating poverty there. Of course, this was always misrepresented in the media here and Chavez became a hero to many citizens there. His methods weren’t perfect but had major positive effect. But with Venezuela being a major petrostate and with Chavez thumbing his nose towards those dominating the global oil business, he wasn’t well liked and was frequently demonized in the media here. Enter a glut on the oil market, a downturn in prices and thus revenues, coupled with US sanctions on Venezuela (all in a poorly disguised attempt at regime change) and things were not well in the country.

   Chavez passed away in 2012 and then enter Nicolas Maduro. He continued forth with as many of Chavez’s programs as he could. All the while the US and the MSM were putting out large volumes of disinformation and propaganda about whether he was honestly elected or not and all the usual tactics we trot out when we are amid a campaign for regime change. This came to a crescendo early this year when a candidate, Juan Guaido, came out of nowhere after Maduro won another election and declared himself the “interim” President. No matter that long time International elections observer and former US President Jimmy Carter states that Venezuela has some of the most honest elections in the world and that Maduro won fairly. Our government and their lackey media weren’t having it.

   There were threats of military intervention and “blockades” of the country and the usual bluster. Lost in most of this is that the people that pay the highest price for all our meddling and manipulation in other lands are usually its poorest inhabitants. The full human impact gets glossed over here or goes unreported for the most part. Things continued to get heated with the current occupant barking out his usual foreign policy nonsense and then one of his two new best buddies, the one named Vladimir, told him to sit down and shut up and we’ve heard little about this since excepting the additional sanctions and the baseball ban.

   It’s sheer lunacy of course. I’d absolutely love it if some Exec in MLB told this administration to take a long walk on a short pier, but no one of any import seems to possess that kind of courage anymore. And the entire US-Venezuela matter is much deeper than I could ever cover here in a sporting column. But make no mistake, this will be somewhat disruptive to the baseball industry and in the long run is just more bullying over a smaller country that has something we covet (vast oil reserves) and desire to exert our corporate control and dominance over. If we are lucky, we won’t be sacrificing the limbs or lives of more working-class kids for a few oil barons here.

   Between the Twins 40-man roster and coaching staff there are 7 Venezuelans and more on their prospect list. Winter baseball in the country holds a place of import to MLB. And in this country it might be second only to religion. For its poorest residents, for the most impoverished, it gives them some temporary distraction from life. If you can get a cheap battery-operated radio, you can follow your favorite team. Winter ball will go on there, make no mistake on that, that’s one thing our government can’t tamper with, but it will be missing some pretty good players for the near future. And this folly is accomplishing exactly what and for whom?

PEACE

   MFAN EXTRA; Next week the Minnesota Wild rookies will report and then head off to the Traverse City Prospects tournament. Will any of them make it on to the big club roster for the upcoming season? There could be a surprise player coming out of hockey nowhere, but I’m not expecting that to happen. There are already too many bodies competing for the available few spots open. I am going to publish my opening night team roster in next weeks edition and offer some analysis. What I have studied thus far in the recent past is not indicating any ice glory for the Wild. Until then, OVER & OUT!

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