Viva Magglio! Baseball and Politics Collide

Bennett Baumer Mar 16, 2009

As Venezuela rolls on in the World Baseball Classic, defeating the Netherlands 3-1 in Miami, Venezuelan nationals let their voices known on politics. The Venezuelan crowd booed slugger Magglio Ordonez when he came up to bat during the game for his unabashed support of leftist President Hugo Chavez.

From the Associated Press (“Magglio Ordonez booed by Venezuelan crowd” by Ricardo Zuniga):

The catcalls started from the moment Magglio Ordonez was introduced, a nasty serenade by a mostly Venezuelan crowd at the World Baseball Classic on Saturday.

One of Venezuela’s biggest baseball stars, Ordonez was booed because of his political views in favor of President Hugo Chavez. The Major League Baseball All-Star outfielder recently appeared in a television ad supporting a Venezuela referendum to eliminate term limits for the president and other elected officials.

“I knew this was going to happen before coming to this tournament,” Ordonez said. “We are used to these things. I was prepared.”

He said he felt “ashamed” by the way his countrymen reacted every time he stepped to the plate. He went 0-for-3 as Venezuela opened the second round with a 3-1 win over the Netherlands, and fans cheered loudly when he struck out in the fourth inning.

Venezuela manager Luis Sojo took Ordonez out of the game after the seventh, and the crowd applauded his exit.

“I don’t like it. We’re all part of the same country. We’re Venezuela,” said slugger Miguel Cabrera, Ordonez’s teammate with Venezuela and the Detroit Tigers. “We told him, ‘You don’t worry about this.’ One can’t mix politics with sports.”

Tell that to the crowd.

“He should be expelled!” shouted Simon Azlak, a Venezuelan national and resident of Miami who attended with several friends.

“We don’t want to see him ever again,” his friend Juan Rangel added.

President Chavez issued this statement:

“Everyone has the right to think about politics,” Chavez said after reading an article about the incident from The Associated Press. “This is shameful.

“Viva Magglio, and all our patriots!” Chavez added.

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