As the public hand-wringing continues over the Detroit Tigers wisdom behind Miguel Cabrera’s 10 year, $292 million dollar contract, there is a thin slice of the Western Hemisphere reveling in the richest deal in American sports history. That would be in Cabrera’s home of baseball-crazed Venezuela. A nation known for pumping out a steady stream of All-Stars and Hall of Famers too numerous to name, but include Luis Aparicio, Omar Vizquel and Ozzie Guillen.
Cabrera’s lucrative windfall is a slight distraction to the real problems plaguing this country. Inflation is skyrocketing to near 60 percent, the murder rate is zooming to one of the highest on the planet and it’s all occurring in what many deem as a politically suppressed environment. Just over the past few weeks, there have been scores of showdowns between protesters and pro-government militias that highlight the daily upheaval for its occupants. So yes, Cabrera’s enormous contract provides a fleeting respite, especially in Maracay, where he is viewed as a conquering hero when he visits.
That’s right, he still visits, but with a police escort and bodyguards surrounding him because kidnapping is very much a possibility there, now more than ever with news of his contract. Cabrera is viewed as a symbol of hope for the youth toiling under more bleak conditions than the 2-time American League MVP ever experienced growing up. To give you an idea of how Cabrera’s financial numbers compare to say, a typical Venezulan earning minimum wage in this charged climate, the AP estimated that one would have to work 46,885 years! A staggering number that is wildly and comically out of reach, but well within the grasp of those Venezuelans willing to allow themselves a chance to indulge in a dream of being the next Miguel Cabrera.