For decades, the Caribbean Series was baseball at its most passionate level.
The series was played between the professional winter league champions from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.
Cuba dropped off in the 1960’s, and it was replaced by other countries.
My parents, and grandparents, told me lots of stories about these championships, from watching the games in Havana to catching them on the radio, and later TV in the 1950s. It was like watching the Yankees and the Red Sox play a double-header every day for two weeks.
In recent years, big contracts have discouraged many major-leaguers from playing winter ball. Nevertheless, the pressure on the local players is intense, from Minnie Minoso in pre-Castro Cuba to Ivan Rodriguez in recent years.
MLB has just advised its players to stay away from Venezuela, as we see in this report:
Major League Baseball is recommending in the “strongest terms” that players and staff not travel to Venezuela for the Caribbean Series, which is to start Feb. 2.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declared he was temporarily assuming presidential powers in a bid to unseat Nicolas Maduro.
President Donald Trump this week supported Guaido’s claim to power.
Maduro called home all Venezuelan diplomats from the U.S. and closed its embassy in Washington.
MLB says in a statement Friday the commissioner’s office is “actively seeking advice on the political, legal, and safety implications of this still-developing situation, and we will inform clubs of any effects as soon as they become clear.”
MLB adds: “In the meantime, we advise club personnel in the strongest terms to immediately cease travel to Venezuela for any reason.”
MLB’s position is understandable. Nevertheless, it’s sad to see this happen.
Once upon a time, I heard the expression that revolutions never happen during the baseball season.
Well, that was then, and this is now. It looks as though baseball is taking a back seat to what we see in the streets of Venezuela.
Let’s hope that we can play ball next year.