No moment of silence for Hugo Chavez at Team Venezuela’s exhibition game vs. the Marlins

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You’ve probably heard that Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez died this evening at the age of 58.

If you didn’t think we would try to find a baseball angle in this, you’re probably not a very frequent reader of HardballTalk. And shame on you for that.

Craig Davis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel describes the scene before Tuesday night’s 2013 World Baseball Classic warmup game between the Marlins and Team Venezuela in Jupiter, Florida:

The death of the controversial Venezuelan leader after a battle with cancer was announced a couple hours before the nation’s entry in the World Baseball Classic faced the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium.

A Marlins spokesman said all parties involved in the exhibition, including Major League Baseball, agreed to not have the moment of silence for Chavez.

The Venezuelan flag in the stadium was lowered to half staff for a few minutes, then raised again.

Hector Rodriguez, Venezuela’s minister of sports, called the team and told them to “concentrate on sports and leave political stuff out.”

“He was a man of baseball,” Team Venezuela manager Luis Sojo said of Chavez. “He was always aware of the team and who was on it. He was the first call I got in the morning during the tournaments in 2006 and 2009. He lived for baseball.” Perhaps there will be some kind of tribute once actual WBC games get underway.

Venezuela faces the Dominican Republic on Thursday night, Puerto Rico on Saturday evening and Spain on Sunday afternoon. Those are the teams in Pool C. Their games are being played in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Marlins made an empty threat. Giancarlo Stanton made an empty promise.

Associated Press
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I covered the main press conference about Giancarlo Stanton earlier, but afterward he and his agents fanned out to various TV shows, radio shows and reporter scrums from which some new, fun things have spun out. Part of what they’ve talked about is silly and meaningless, part of it just meaningless.

Here’s the silly and meaningless, from a Marlins official, apparently, trying to bully Stanton into accepting either the Giants or the Cardinals trades despite the fact that he told them beforehand that he was not willing to go to either of those teams:

This is silly because it comes off like a threat. Like the worst possible thing that can happen to a guy is to stay with the very team that is making the threat. It’s like telling your wife that if she does not leave you, she’s stuck with you forever.

It’s meaningless too, in that Stanton has an opt-out clause after 2020. If the Marlins could not make a trade Stanton would approve, he’d simply collect close to $90 million and then leave at age 30. Oooh, don’t throw me into that briar patch, Mr. Jeter!

Not that Stanton’s people are offering statements of serious gravitas. His agent was asked about Stanton’s opt-out rights, which he retains even though he’s now with the Yankees:

That may very well be true! He just got here and everything is going great so far. It’s totally empty, of course, because anything can happen between now and the fall of 2020. If the big time free agents of the next two years sign for the sort of money that makes Stanton look underpaid, he’ll certainly opt-out, even if he wants to stay with the Yankees. Ask Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia how that works. The opt-out clause is pure, unadulterated leverage for a player and unless he totally craters over the next three seasons he’ll most certainly use it, regardless of present desires.

Which, hey, that’s how things work when a big trade or free agent signing happens. Everyone who has lost looks bad and everyone who won sounds happy. Then, later, the baseball happens.