Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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Must-Click Link: Pat Neshek at the All-Star Game

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Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com has a must-click story about reliever Pat Neshek, who is representing the Phillies at the All-Star Game.

On the surface it’s about how an unlikely All-Star is taking it all in. We’ve read a million of these. But Neshek’s story is deeper than that. It’s about how his three children are with him in Miami, making it a true family affair. It’s also about his oldest son Gehrig, who died less than 24 hours after he was born. Neshek talks about that as best he can, but he obviously can’t talk about it too deeply, even years later.

As we said with the Cabrera post this morning: these guys are not gladiators, robots or avatars, put on a field for our amusement and nothing more. There’s often a lot more going on with them. Stuff we couldn’t imagine. Stuff, absent stories like this one, we’d never know.

Derek Jeter and . . . Michael Jordan are closing in on purchasing the Miami Marlins

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We’ve long heard that Derek Jeter and his group of investors was the lead horse in the Miami Marlins Derby. Now the New York Post says that Jeter’s group is in the home stretch, having collected $1.2 billion which should enable it to purchase the franchise.

The Post also reports that one of Jeter’s minority investors is, well, a person you’ve heard of:

Interestingly, NBA great Michael Jordan is among a group of about 15 investors in the Jeter camp, sources said — although the ex-hoopster is said to be kicking in very little cash.

Jeter sees Jordan as a role model in how to become a successful sports executive, a source who knows Jeter said.

Hey, if Jordan can help Jeter do for the Marlins what Jordan has done for the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets then . . . well, actually, that may be an improvement on the Marlins recent track record, so never mind.

 

Miguel Cabrera speaks out about threats against his family in Venezuela

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Venezuela is in crisis. It’s a complicated crisis, beyond our scope of discussion here, but it’s one that has a direct impact on baseball by virtue of so many professional baseball players coming from there and having family there.

Venezuela had already long been a dangerous place for ballplayers and their family. Rays catcher Wilson Ramos was famously kidnapped a few years ago and other players have had relatives kidnapped and held for ransom as well. The players are often largely powerless to do anything about while they’re here, thousands of miles away. Many have decided to relocate their families entirely, forcing them to leave the only country they’ve ever called home.

The recent strife, which has led to economic collapse and a nearly wholesale breakdown of order in the country, has exacerbated the situation. And baseball’s most prominent Venezuelan native is speaking out about it.

As Evan Woodbery of MLive.com reports, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera posted a series of videos to the “stories” section of his Instagram account, blasting the corruption of Venezuela’s government, voicing his support for protesters and speaking of threats against his family that require him to pay protection money:

“If I go to Venezuela ‘they’ll break me, they’ll kill me'”

“I’m tired of paying protection money so they don’t kidnap my mother”

“I protest for truth, for the end of communism, and I am not with dictators . . . To the people of the resistance, you are not alone.”

Cabrera, like most Venezuelan players, has not historically been vocal about politics in his home country. But with economic collapse and lawlessness brought on by a corrupt dictatorship, he is understandably at his breaking point.

Some have noted that Cabrera is having what is, for him anyway, a down year. Most of us think about whether he’s healthy or if, at 34, the years are catching up to him. Rarely do we stop to think, however, how hard it must be for him and other players in his situation to concentrate on a baseball game.

Here’s hoping there is an end to the crisis in Venezuela soon. Here’s hoping that Cabrera and other players with families in harm’s way are able to find peace and safety soon as well.