On Wednesday night, Wilson Ramos, catcher for the Washington Nationals, was kidnapped from outside his family's home in Valencia, Venezuela. Ramos had just arrived in his homeland to play winter ball for the Aragua Tigers.
As troubling as it is, it might be more distressing that this isn't entirely unusual. Kevin Goldstein wrote a brief but worthwhile post about the situation:
In October, we had Rafael Rojas, a Venezuelan baseball writer on the podcast. We talked plenty of baseball, but as I like to steer the show frequently into foreign affairs, we also talked about the state of the nation, and Rojas lamented the rapidly surging crime rate in his home country. One of the biggest issues there is the crime of kidnapping, as Venezeula now has the highest rate in the world. That crime and baseball combined in a disturbing way this evening, as reports have confirmed that Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, who had just arrived home to join his winter league team, was abducted by gunmen this evening.
Kidnapping and baseball have crossed paths before in Venezeula. Two years ago, Yorvit Torrealba and his family paid a ransom for the return of his son. Also that year, Victor Zambrano's mother was rescued by a raid following her kidnapping, while in the biggest tragedy, the brother of Henry Blanco was kidnapped in December of 2008, with his body found the next day. He had been shot 15 times.
If you're on Twitter and want to keep track of this story, follow @RafaelRojasC. He shared that the Venezuelan League will meet with MLB officials to discuss player safety, but he's also very familiar with the territory:
Venezuelans regardless of age, race, social status, etc are victims of kidnappings every day. Stats are impossible to get ... The Venezuelan Gov't refuses to disclose felony figures. They blame the media for creating a "sensation of lack of safety" ... Who could, in his/her right mind, talk about a so-called "sensation" when news like these breaks
When Ozzie Guillen blasted Sean Penn multiple times for his support of Hugo Chavez over the years, this is what Guillen was talking about. Guillen has yet to comment on the matter, but Ozzie Jr. expressed his concern on Twitter.
The White Sox organization has seven players in its organization playing in the Venezuelan Winter League: Eduardo Escobar, Jose Martinez, Justin Cassel, Jean Duque, Duente Heath, Gregory Infante and Leopoldo Sanchez.