by Dave Zirin
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is pitching a
(literal) shutout to Major League Baseball owners that scour his country in
search of "talent on the cheap." Baseball employers "sign children for pennies,
treat them like trash when they're finished, and face contact lens-thin
regulations for their troubles." Over the past two decades, "200 Venezuelans
have played in the Major Leagues with more than 1,000 in the minors," while fully
"30 percent of all minor league players are from the Dominican Republic."
President Chavez is demanding MLB regulation and fair play for his athletes,
anathema to the Baltimore Orioles,
Boston Red Sox, and San Diego Padres. The teams have "cut and run" in order to, in the
words of one executive, "avoid some of the hassle of having to deal with some
of the legislation that Chávez passes down there in hiring coaches, worrying
about severance pay, and just getting in and out of the country."