Since oil prices are on the rise, I decided to check on the latest antics of Hugo Chavez. Like the big, bad wolf, he’s always huffing and puffing. The challenge is in picking which three gaffes to cite rather than trying to find them.
Let’s start with that president for life thing. He’s not the only one, but he’s probably the most dangerous one. Remember, the Soviet Constitution guaranteed free and fair elections, too. And Idi Amin also styled himself president for life. While not a specific instance, a significant Chavez strike is his ongoing repression of the Venezuelan people. Chavez’ questionably legal consolidation of power bears an uncanny similarity to Hitler’s seizure of power.* Just like a leopard can’t change his spots, Chavez continues to insult the US President. Funny how Chavez has so quickly decided Obama’s not so different from Bush.
As for the Tigers? The connection to Chavez is Venezuelan-born Magglio Ordonez. The star right-fielder is certainly entitled to his political views and to express them. He’s set up a charitable foundation that annually provides a $2,500 scholarship to a southwest Detroit high school grad and he participates in other Tigers-sponsored charitable events. But a $2,500 scholarship pales in comparison to Ordonez’ $75 million 5-year contract (if the Tigers exercise the two one-year options). The problem is, Ordonez actively supports Chavez. But, Ordonez neither lives in Venezuela nor is he subject to Chavez’ oppressive regime.
Now for the second strike. It came on a foul ball to right field in 2000 when they replaced Tiger Stadium. Besides being a fan of the venerable stadium, including its location at Michigan and Trumbull, the insult to injury was naming the new venue Comerica Park. Ten years after buying the naming rights for 30 years, Comerica Bank moved its headquarters from Detroit to Dallas. Take the naming rights with you! I realize Comerica Park is fan friendly, but I used to buy tickets to Tiger Stadium for under 10 bucks and park for $5. Comerica’s a pricier venture. The straw that broke the camel’s back, though, was the Tigers’ pathetic 2003 season. That year, they lost more games than any team in American League history and came within one game of tieing the 1962 Mets’ record for most losses in modern Major League Baseball history. Finishing the season at 43-119, the Tigers were 47 games out of first that year. Baseball used to be the one sport I followed. Not any more.
*A point of historical clarification regarding this link: Hitler was not elected to office nor did his party enjoy a majority in the Reichstag. The NSDAP had formed a coalition, however, and following a series of Chancellors unable to govern, Germany’s president finally acquiesced to appointing Hitler as Chancellor.