Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Yankees have some explaining to do about the signing of Latino boys

MLB's system of signing 16-year-old Latinos is one of the ugliest examples of child exploitation in sports. Of course, we only hear about kids who are banking huge checks - $2 million dollars, sometimes - providing a convenient sense that these Latin cut-throats are gouging and holding MLB teams for ransom. But vast numbers of families chase the lie and get nothing but dirty hands. And there is something deeply disturbing about a system that tracks kids through pubescence and secretly herds them into contracts, sometimes even before their 15th birthday.

Here is a story about a kid the Yankees apparently were close to signing, then chucked overboard. The boy's "trainer" - (Let's not even imagine the dimensions of that job title, other than to say prostitutes must have "trainers," too, right?) - has complained to the Bud Selig Justice League of America. On the subject of young Latinos, that's like yelling insults at a cactus.

I'd like to believe the Yankees are not at fault here (though, let's be honest: Our fan love of the Yankees and our sense of morality parted companies long ago.) Still, parts of this story sound not only fishy, but creepy - most notably, the notion that young boys often live with team employees. WTF are the Yankees running down there? Youth hotels?

For all of Rug Selig's self-righteous bluster on the evil of steroids, he whiffed on the Latino system. Apparently, it wasn't his priority. Maybe a few stories like this will jog somebody's conscience. Or maybe not. When a capitalistic system is successfully exploiting a community, there is seldom interest in changing it. (For further reference, See Sports, NCAA.)

Sadly, the Yankees have become the leaders in signing adolescent Latinos. The fan in me wants to think we'll snag the next Miguel Cabrera. In fact, we'll probably see a new train of Jackson Melians and Ricardo Aramboleses. Can a 16-year-old millionaire keep his head screwed on straight? Whenever I think of big name Latin propects, I ponder Jose Tabata - the former Yankee future hall of famer - whose wife was old enough to be his mom. These boys who make millions by age 16: To a hot, fully-mature and experienced woman, they must be like eating Cherry Twizzlers. What kid would even have a chance?

I hope Baseball America follows up on this story. This boy's "trainer" might be full of crap. But if parts of the tale are true, somebody's got some 'splainin' to do.


Anonymous said...

Youngsters take steroids for simply a signing bonus, it buys them a house, car and wife. Many girl friends too, it's crazy. He be oozing milk out the breast, a father once explained to me. It's out of control among the amateurs looking to win a lotto.

Mister D said...

I want to be fair here. Obviously I'm a Yankees fan and kneejerk response is to defend them (unless I'm bashing them, which I'm allowed to do because I'm a fan, dammit).

On the other hand, its easy to root for the underdog, and a weepy 16 year old screwed out of millions, or at least thousands, by the Evil Empire is pretty compelling.

I find the whole way that business is done in the Latin countries more than a little skeevy and exploitative. I believe in giving these kids a shot and letting them grab every dollar they can (I'd like the same for the draft eligible kids). The degree to which these insanely wealthy teams conspire to screw over the talented boys who fill their coffers is unseemly.

I have no idea who is telling the truth here, or which version is closest to the truth, and I won't pretend otherwise. But this ought to be a big honking red flag to our outgoing commissioner that the system stinks and needs to be fixed (and probably fumigated).

Anonymous said...

I'm anonymous up above, and that's the truth. Living in the Caribbean has given me this view. Teams and kids are both the victims of the dealer. This the Caribbean, imagine the Philippines and when Pac Man turned down the riches fight to be with Mayweather because a dislike to Olympic style testing. A rooster doesn't sing more clearly than that.