Playing the blame game
Now it's to the point where we take it for granted.
For instance, you can type anyone's name into Google and find out pretty much anything they've ever done. Unless their name is Jim Smith. Or Brian Williams.
And yet, it's amazing how we sometimes act like it doesn't exist. Because if anybody in the Golden Baseball League did a simple Google search for Ricky Smith, the Yuma Scorpions would, at the very least, be the first half South Division champions.
The GBL isn't the only one to blame. The Venezuelan Baseball Federation is at fault, too. But before we get too far into the blame game, here's some background as required by law.
Scorpions affiliated with Colombians in 2009, the team stinks, the GBL needs an affiliation to make the Scorpions fiscally productive, they bring in the Venezuelans, Ricky Smith is the president of the new team, the team wins a lot of games, Smith stops paying players and other bills, eventually the affiliation deal is dissolved by the league.
The night the deal was dissolved, I decided to use our friend Google to see exactly who this guy is. I typed Ricky Smith into the box. And I was amazed by what appeared.
Those results appear on the front page of this paper, the culmination of almost a month of research, phone calls, said phone calls going unanswered and some techniques that may be considered stalking. But on that night, I remember thinking what a fool I was for not googling Ricky Smith earlier. This was a man who, the first time I met him, cursed me out for something that I did not write. That happened on our second meeting as well.
But if I felt dumb for not doing sufficient research, I wonder how league officials felt?
Which brings us back to the blame game. GBL CEO Dave Kaval and commissioner Kevin Outcalt said plenty of due diligence went into researching the Venezuelan Baseball Federation. They went to Caracas, they met with officials, they set everything up.
Then what happened becomes a little hazy.
Kaval said Smith was appointed president of the Scorpions by VBF president Edwin Zerpa. Zerpa counters that he had never heard of Smith, and that Smith said he was president of the league when they first met.
Kaval's story makes sense. Zerpa's has some holes in it that couldn't be cleared up — cell phone calls to Venezuela made through an interpreter don't last very long. After hearing cell phone service down there, I'm not going to be so quick to complain about my cruddy service up here.
Even if Zerpa's story smells a little fishy, you have to wonder why the GBL never did a five-minute Internet search that would have raised questions they could have confronted Smith on.
They would have seen his history of not paying what is owed. They may have figured out he wasn't going to pay his team even the per diem. That lack of meal money resulted in a three-game sweep in Tucson, including a 20-2 loss in which all-star Daryl Arreola was rocked for eight earned runs in less than three innings. They win one of those games, i.e. if they had gotten food in their bellies, they would have won the division, which they ended up losing by percentage points.
Instead, we have a team that's struggling in the second half, not going to the playoffs and has a murky future in Yuma.
And one Google search by any number of people could have prevented that.
Edward Carifio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6882.