Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals have issued a joint statement regarding the Wilson Ramos kidnapping:
“Our foremost concern is with Wilson Ramos and his family and our thoughts are with them at this time. Major League Baseball’s Department of Investigations is working with the appropriate authorities on this matter. Both Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals have been instructed to make no further comment.”
I assume those instructions came from law enforcement. When someone is being held, it’s probably best to keep mum for fear of inspiring rash action by the kidnappers. This is all so horrifying.
Going beyond the specifics a bit, it’s inescapable that Major League Baseball is going to have to reevaluate its relationship with the Venezuelan baseball establishment. As ESPN’s Jorge Arangure tweeted a while ago, MLB has a say in the playing conditions of the Venezuelan Winter League — things like turf and infield dirt and locker rooms and stuff — to ensure player safety. What is unclear, however, is what level of involvement MLB has with respect to security, whether they should have such involvement, how much, how should it be effected and that sort of thing. Personal bodyguards?
Or, heck, maybe we’re at a point where MLB should strongly consider or outright ban its players from playing in Venezuela altogether. I don’t know. That’s probably a kneejerk reaction. Ramos is a Venezuelan native, after all, and while he was playing in the winter league, it’s just as likely that he could have been taken from his home even if he was merely resting all offseason. Any player in Venezuela is a potential target, whether he’s playing there or simply living in the town in which he was born.
But as Arangure notes, things are getting bad down there: players threatened, scouts mugged in the airport, etc. This was probably inevitable. And, absent something being done, will certainly happen again.