The effects of current events in Venezuela are being felt in the Baltimore Orioles minor league system.
Today marks the first Spring Training game for the Baltimore Orioles; the team is playing the Atlanta Braves in CoolToday Park in Venice, Florida. Baseball is back and it is exciting.
For some players, especially several minor league players in the Orioles system, the excitement is overshadowed by events back at home. Instability in Valenzuela weighs heavy on the minds of P Victor Romero, C Daniel Fajardo, C Alfredo Gonzalez, P Cristian Alvarado and non-roster invitee Jose Rondon.
Simply put, the crisis centers on the fact that two men, Juan Guaido and Nicolas Maduro, both claim that they are the legitimate president. Maduro has the support of the military and the state apparatus while Guaido controls the National Assembly and has a higher approval rating among Venezuelans. Caught in the middle of this stand-off are the citizens of Venezuela.
The current situation is considered a humanitarian crisis; corruption and an economic meltdown rule the day. Everyday essentials, food and water, are either outrageously expensive or hard to obtain.
#Caracas, the water supply barely reaches homes: only 50 hours out of the 168 per week are supplied. We Venezuelans are not camels, the drinking water crisis is one of the most serious in the country. #EverybodyDeservesWater” – VP of the National Assembly pic.twitter.com/QiiZBUoQ95
— Michael Welling (@WellingMichael) February 12, 2020
Venezuelans are fleeing the country in massive numbers as the country suffers from an unstable currency, rampant disease, violence and hyperinflation. Many who remain are suffering from starvation and malnutrition. The once wealthy nation sees 90% of its population living in poverty.
Knowing this is occurring back home while being over 1,700 miles away from loved ones cannot be easy for the Orioles Venezuelan farmhands. Breaking into the major leagues is difficult enough under “normal” conditions; it has to be exponentially more difficult when your mind wanders to your loved ones who may be suffering. The situation is so bad that the players really can’t go home during the off season, adding additional pressures to them.
I am certain that this piece is an over-simplification of the Venezuelan crisis and lacks political perspective (sports are my forte after all); it is meant to draw attention to the situation and point out what it could be doing to some of our minor league players, however. My intent is to shine a light on the issue while informing fans of what goes on with some of the Orioles prospects. Should you interact with any of these players during the season, keep in mind what they are going through and simply offer them support and compassion.