Thursday, December 05, 2019

Decay of the Venezuelan League

Alfonso Tusa writes at The Hardball Times about the Venezuelan League. He starts with the fact that MLB cut ties to the league because of sanctions, but just yesterday the U.S. government exempted the Venezuelan League.

But that doesn't detract from the story, which is about a league in decay, with or without U.S. players. He starts with a description of its storied past, with Luis Aparicio, Bob Gibson, Dave Parker, Rollie Fingers, and so many more. And then now:

Going to the ballpark is not an option for many people anymore. Public transportation is almost not available, and the few vehicles still working are extremely expensive. The league has tried to help by setting 6 p.m. as the new starting time for weekday games, earlier during weekends. The other reason for playing earlier is the rampant insecurity in the streets, which forces people to go home much earlier than they used to. The cost of the tickets is about the cost of a single meal, so many fans cannot even think about going to the stadium because they first have to try to eat. They can’t think about buying beverages and food at the stadium, which is as expensive as the tickets, or even more.
They don't even have enough balls and players cannot throw them into the stands. The play is sub-par and the stands emptier. Even many Venezuelan players prefer to play elsewhere in Latin America during the winter.
How many more times there will be a season like this? The optimistic expect this will be the only time this happens, but that implies the end of the political regime, and that needs much more than simple optimism. But perhaps it is healthier being a dreamer, expecting to leave behind all of the depressing and unhappy images of the totalitarian reality. Better than staying anchored to this dark reality that consumes all of us little by little, every day, like a frog being boiled over a slow fire.
Almost exactly a year ago I wrote about the players killed in Venezuela after being attacked on the road. I have to imagine many players will stay away even if they have the option of going. The collapse of the Venezuelan state touches everything.


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