The recent scandals involving the Dominican Republic have become so bad that the ever-decisive Bud Selig has given MLB’s security division the all-clear to carry out damage control. The most disturbing thing about it all is the lack of outrage and general interest from the American public.
Problems with scouting and signing players from the DR can be traced back over a year, including the shady exit of Jim Bowden, the former GM of the Washington Nationals. The allegations against Bowden and the Nationals covered everything from kickbacks to false birth records. Two Bowden henchmen, Jose Rijo and Jose Baez, were also kicked to the curb for less-than-savory activities.
Of course, the spin masters in Major League Baseball promised swift retribution for the scandals. The trouble with this is that they let the problem become so wide-spread and sophisticated that it is nearly impossible to stop.
Instead of going to school, these kids in the Dominican Republic are taught to live and breathe baseball. They are guided along by street agents known as “buscones” and led to believe that it is fine to lie, cheat and steal their way into the majors.
Despite the huge impact this is having in America’s pastime, there is little press coverage to be found over the scandals. There are some huge names involved here (the Yankees, Red Sox and White Sox have all been scrutinized closely), but the general public prefers to be spoon-fed A-Rod story after A-Rod story.
ESPN.com reports that officials are smuggling in money and are even sneaking performance-enhancing drugs into the United States. Dozens of players, some of them high-profile prospects, are being detained in the DR and other countries. The buscones are allowed to run wild, developing a thousand more Miguel Tejadas in the making.
Major League Baseball started this mess when they began scouting foreign countries and wowing the destitute locals with promises of million-dollar contracts. These actions have gone on long enough, and now baseball must purge itself from yet another scandal.