During his ESPN radio show, Dan Le Batard spoke about shadowing Sammy Sosa in the Dominican Republic.
While there, he witnessed the slugger being treated like royalty wherever he went. But when he went to his mansion, Le Batard noticed the heights of the gates. Juxtaposed with the majority of the country living in poverty, it made for a unforgettable sight. Le Batard spoke of locals desperate for food and water attempting to climb over the gates to Sosa’s mansion.
On Sunday, soon-to-be Hall of Fame slugger David Ortiz became another example of how worship can turn on its ear. According to ESPN, “authorities said Ortiz was ambushed by a man who got off a motorcycle and shot him in the back at nearly point-blank range around 8:50 p.m. local time at the Dial Bar and Lounge.” Arrests were made and the outpouring of love for Ortiz on social media demonstrated how much he’s beloved among baseball fans and his peers.
Ortiz’s career can be boiled down to a few things: breaking “the curse”, 500 home runs and “this is our f**kin’ city.” His peers loved him. The fans loved him. The nickname “Big Papi” says it all. That love, adulation and respect made its way to his home country. In a baseball-crazy nation, Ortiz added to the legacy of great Dominican talent.
At this time, it would be irresponsible to talk about the motivations behind the shooting. Some outlets have already posted speculation masquerading as journalism, but the real story is how desperation and adulation are a toxic mix. In America, to an extent, we’ve seen this with entertainers and athletes from underprivileged backgrounds. But baseball in the D.R. is a different monster.
Franchises have been accused of preying on children as young as 12. A recent deal between MLB and buscones’ has raised skepticism. But children desperate for a way out (and adults looking to make a dollar) create this toxic mix.
Those that make it to the majors and perform well earn admiration, adulation and millions of dollars. They carry a family, and sometimes a country, on their backs. But there’s also a target there as well. In one Latin American country, players and/or their family members have been kidnapped for ransom.
Oritz is lucky to have survived the shooting. He has family and friends that are pulling for him. However, when he comes back home to adulation, the desperation can be found right around the corner.
- Tommy Pham is absolutely right about the Tampa Bay Rays not getting enough love for the All-Star Game. But the combination of bigger baseball markets and a barely-there fan base, lead to a lot of disrespect.
- Madison Bumgarner vs. Max Muncy was one of the few batter vs. pitcher tiffs where no one comes out looking bad. It’s petty. It’s dramatic. It’s wonderful. Give me more of it, please.
- I usually don’t link to bad takes, but this column blaming Domingo German for the Yankees not signing Dallas Keuchel is a sight to behold.
- Mets fans were angry at Matt Harvey and his agent Scott Boras over pitch counts. Harvey, in his first season since Tommy John surgery decided to push ahead. The world was his. He went into the top of the 9th of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series up two runs and looking to pitch a complete game. Since that moment he charged out of the dugout and to mound to loud cheers, it’s all been downhill.
Writer. Reporter. New Yorker.
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