Major League players are fleeing Venezuela

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This, from a couple of days ago, is sad. The situation in Venezuela has deteriorated precipitously in recent years –both in terms of politics and in terms of basic public safety — to the point where baseball players don’t feel safe there anymore and are leaving their home country and moving to the United States full time:

Uncomfortable with the rampant crime in the country with the second-highest homicide rate in the world last year, [Miguel] Montero renewed his passport in his native Caracas and hurried back to the USA, feeling terrible for the family members and countrymen he left behind.

“I would go from the place where I was trying to get my passport to the house and back. That’s it,” Montero said. “You want to go to your country to relax and have a good time, not to be shut inside your house because you’re afraid to go out. … There are safety concerns anywhere in the world, but you watch the news about Venezuela and more people have been killed there than in Afghanistan.”

We’ve long noted the kidnappings, with Wilson Ramos’ kidnapping chief among them. But simply walking down the street in Venezuela has gotten dangerous. It’s a sad, sad situation.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.