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Will Venezuelan ballplayers soon have trouble getting into the U.S.?


Back in November, we talked about whether then-president-elect Trump’s immigration policies would have any impact on Major League Baseball. It was grounded in speculation, of course, because we had no idea what Trump might implement. His campaign was never firm on specifics, obviously, and no one knew what he might actually do once in office.

In the past week we’ve seen what he’s done with respect seven specific countries: suspending immigration entirely for a set period, including restricting people who were already visa or green card holders who had lived and worked in the United States. What happens after the set period is unclear, but there will no doubt be greater restrictions and scrutiny of those seeking to enter the United States.

As this is not an international affairs blog, we’ll leave that aside for a moment. But as a baseball blog, news that the Trump Administration may extend similar immigration restrictions to Latin American countries is of relevance:

According to the Colombian radio station, the US embassy in Bogota is set to announce tougher requirements that would make traveling to the United States for Colombians more difficult than it already is. While the radio station did not say which requirements would be made more difficult, Blu Radio implied that it could affect the automatic extension of visas, meaning that Colombians who already have a visa could be obligated to undergo renewed scrutiny and repeated interviews by embassy officials . . .

Many reports strongly suggest that Venezuela will be covered by similar restrictions. As you know, a lot of baseball players come from Venezuela.

A couple of observations on this:

  • When we first talked about this in November, reader sentiment tended to be “this stuff will affect new immigrants and refugees, not people with jobs and permanent residence and all of that.” Welp, that was certainly not the case with the restrictions put in place on the seven Middle East countries last week. People who have long had U.S. green cards and work visas, including people in medical, academic and engineering fields, and their families, have been caught up in it and have been unable to enter the country, even if they’ve lived here a while. As such, saying “this will not affect baseball players, who are uniquely-skilled entertainers” may be incorrect.
  • Even assuming an extension of restrictions to Latin American countries is handled less ham-handedly than last week’s restrictions and no ballplayer is simply denied entry, they will almost certainly be placed under more scrutiny when they attempt to return. That could likewise have implications, as we saw post-September 11, when a number of players were found to have lied about their ages and identities, only to have their deception revealed after security was tightened.

Major League Baseball is a sport that relies on a large number of immigrants here on temporary travel documents to function. We’re in a world right now where such folks are under fire. Maybe it doesn’t ever touch Major League Baseball, but I bet people at MLB headquarters and the MLBPA, not to mention team offices, are monitoring all of this closely. And, maybe, strongly suggesting that players who are currently in Latin America report extra early for spring training.

Joe Maddon: “I have a defensive foot fetish.”

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The Cubs’ defense — or lack thereof this year — has been a topic of conversation as it could help explain why the team hasn’t played at the elite level it played at last year.

Manager Joe Maddon tried to go into detail about that but ended up channeling his inner Rex Ryan. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.

Well then.

The Nationals have scored 62 runs during four Joe Ross starts

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If, in the future, Joe Ross ever complains about a lack of run support, point to his first four starts of the 2017 season.

Ross started on April 19 in Atlanta against the Braves, on April 25 in Colorado against the Rockies, on April 30 at home against the Mets, and on May 23 at home against the Mariners. In those games, the Nats’ offense scored 14, 15, 23, and 10 runs respectively for a total of 62 runs, or an average of 15.5 per start. Ross was the pitcher of record for seven, eight, 10, and 10 runs for a total of 35 runs (8.75 runs per start), which would still make him the major league leader in run support by that restrictive standard.

Among qualified starters — Ross did not qualify — entering Tuesday’s action, the Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela led the way according to ESPN, averaging 7.11 runs of support in nine starts. The Rockies scored double-digit runs in only three of those starts, oddly enough.

Per the Nationals, the 62 runs of support for Ross is a major league record in a pitcher’s first four starts of a season.