Stealing Lives: the Globalization of Baseball and the Tragic Story of Alexis Quiroz

While I was goofing off a few months ago on Amazon.com, I decided to check my Amazon recommends page to see if anything interesting popped up (up until the recent change to the recommend page where you can not tell Amazon not to use certain books for its recommendations, I had kinda avoided it because books I had bought when I was younger were the only things it was using) a book caught my eye: Stealing Lives: the Globalization of Baseball and the Tragic Story of Alexis Quiroz.

Recently I bought the book and couldn’t put it down, the numbers and the story were horrific. Yes, I understand that the quality of life in Latin America is much lower than in the US  or other “developed” nations, but one “working” toiliet for at least fifteen teenage boys, athletes without access to clean water or a real trainer, people stealing money from the boys left and right, etc. Those kind of conditions would never happen to an American or an Asian baseball player, but it’s okay if it happens to a Latino.

The authors made an interesting point, that I naively thought would never happen, the contracts are made in English and pretty much almost never are translated into Spanish for the Latino prospects, most of whom really don’t have an education to begin with, just dreams of making it to Major League Baseball and helping out their families. But the American players who play Winter Ball in Latin America, get their contracts that are originally written in Spanish, written in English, it’s a requirement.

In a sense I do understand that in the business sense of baseball, you can’t afford to only have North American prospects, they’re expensive, a player that you draft, you have to pay at least $1 million signing bonus and that’s just the beginning. You can’t also afford to go after the Asian players, because in a sense it’s like the draft but with dollars instead of last year’s finishing order. So to fill the rest of your development teams, you have to find cheaper players somewhere in the world.

But to deny a person their basic rights as a person and treat them simply as cattle to move from one disgusting area to another is just plain wrong.  And then not to care about how you’ve treated another human being is fine just as long as it’s not happening to one of your own countrymen (relatively speaking) is simply adding insult to injury, I think.

After reading this book, a part of me doesn’t want to watch baseball ever again so that I’m not a part of the problem encouraging Major League Baseball teams to abuse teens in Latin America, because if there isn’t an audience/demand, there’s no need for supply, but of course that’s assuming that more people care about the immoral practices happening down in Latin America and stop watching specifically for that reason.

On a greedy bright side, supposedly the ‘stros are well behaved…Go Houston!

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