The Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional (LVBP) season is about to start next week, and fans will be hearing “play ball” for the first time in a year, but this time it comes with new passions that have nothing to do with playing ball and a lot to do with the state of our nation and how polarized it is.

Add to that the fact that PDVSA is going to bankroll the operation, and you can imagine the tone of the debate: How can there be baseball in a country where 93% of people can’t afford enough food? How is it possible that they gave 10 million dollars to the LVBP while people starve?

For some, “there can’t be a fiesta de béisbol when there’s no medicine for the ill,” and fans of all eight teams are firmly opposing the 2017–2018 season.

Not Just a Game

While many think of baseball as “a game,” the LVBP is one of the most solid and profitable businesses in the country. Asking for no baseball, from an offended fan’s perspective, is one thing, but asking to deprive hundreds of Venezuelans of the opportunity to work is a whole different game.

How can there be baseball in a country where 93% of people can’t afford enough food?

When you demand that there’d be no baseball, not only the players lose their jobs, it’s also coaches, vendors, referees, transportation companies, field maintenance people, doctors and professionals on every team, sports anchors, cheerleaders and a long long list of folks who would suffer from this crisis and have no backup plan.

More than noble, it’s our duty to think of the less fortunate at times like these, and by “prohibiting” the season, we might be pushing others to dire economic scenarios, while really fixing nothing.

But fans may be justifiably mad.

What About the 10 Million?

This is where the plot thickens. The Venezuelan oil juggernaut is expected to be an official sponsor for this season, as makeup for the PR dólares-preferenciales debacle the LVBP has been struggling with. This has no reason to be. That’s why we have a Venezuelan Baseball Federation, a public entity whose sole existence is to promote and develop Venezuelan talent.

If last season left any lessons at all, it might be that, unless prices for tickets magically plummet, Venezuelan ballparks will be deserted, giving us a clue into this conundrum’s raison d’etre. It’s not profit, or talent (since it’s mostly imported), nor is it harakiri in the name of the fans.

It’s keeping business as usual.

Those ten million dollars are life and death for literally hundreds, if not thousands.

Every swing of the bat, every toss to first base, every single pitch, is being paid by you, at the expense of those who have the next Caracas-Magallanes on their priority list, for buying food is hard enough as it is.

It’s true the MLB never stopped playing during the World Wars or Vietnam, nor were the Olympics suspended, and we still have weddings, quinceaños, bachelor parties and baptisms. Celebrations are necessary in times of crisis and the juego de pelota has been a tool in uniting the country for years. But, then again, the US never starved and for as many wars as they have taken part in, none were on home soil or waged during an economic tragedy.

Those ten million dollars are life and death for literally hundreds, if not thousands. Feeling guilty while watching a game might be the only sane answer to this, another of our things tainted by mismanagement.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.