Friday, January 20, 2012

Formerly known as Fausto Carmona

There's a great story about Giants shortstop Jose Uribe, who first played under the name Jose Gonzalez, then asked to be known as Uribe Gonzalez, and finally decided that Jose Uribe was perfect for him.

He was, as one wag put it, the player to be named later.

Jose's real name was Jose Altagracia Gonzalez Uribe.

Cleveland Indians pitcher Fausto Carmona's real name is not, as it turns out, Fausto Carmona.  According to la policia en la Republica Dominicana, it's really Roberto Hernandez Heredia.  Also, he's 31, not 28.

Apparently, he is still right-handed.

The first thing, clearly, is to get visa issues sorted out.  But there are most definitely larger ramifications here:  If you're the Indians, you feel scammed, and I can't say I blame you.  A 31-year-old pitcher is viewed (and paid) in a very different way than a 28-year-old pitcher.

Meanwhile, if you're a Dominican player right now, you don't think people are going to give you second looks?  I have some friends from the Dominican on teams that I've broadcasted for, and now I really do want to ask them, man to man, "Am I calling you by your real name?" and "Do you know any guys who aren't going by their real name?"

It's an old joke in baseball when an older player has a birthday (I first heard it with Tim Raines), they'll say, "Yes, I'm 38 -- but I'm 28 in Dominican years."

So it would seem to me that if you're Dominican -- heck, maybe if you're any Latino player, because G-d knows that we Americans don't care a lick about different ethnicities and nations of origin -- you're humiliated by the ex-Fausto Carmona today and you're dreading that a ton of people, even well-meaning folks like me, will question whether your identity is a lie.

There's a Yiddish phrase, "shanda for the goyim," which refers to a Jewish person who shames us in front of non-Jews, particularly by conforming to a negative Jewish stereotype.  Bernie Madoff was a shanda for the goyim.

Ex-Fausto Carmona is the Dominican version of a shanda for the goyim.

What's worse to people in baseball, to be caught abusing PEDs or to be caught lying about your name and age?

I'd argue it's the latter.

If a teammate can't be trusted to tell you his real name, what else can't you trust him about?  It's a clubhouse betrayal.

1 comment:

Jeffyhash said...

Jesse, I get where you are going with this, and I agree that I don't advocate lying simply because it comes back to bite you really hard (like it clearly has in this situation).

At the same time, I think Tim Brown over at Yahoo did well in nailing the mood- if I'm somebody in a pretty down and out situation and all of a sudden I get told 'hey, you want to get rich and get out of here'... I'm not saying I would do it, but I understand. Yes, it is disappointing, but there tends to be a lot of deceit about the system in the first place (or at least is heavily viewed as deceitful). When it is known that age will eliminate you out of sight regardless of the rest, you better believe that's going to be known and truth is going to be thrown out the door.

Should the Indians feel scammed? Yes. What should they do? The Indians (and everybody involved) needs to stop playing the 'Oh the outrage' card when this stuff happens and go 'how do we fix this ?' Otherwise, we're going to read the same story 10 or 20 years from now, and it'll be the same tragedy over and over again.