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Also in this section:
Melia Panama Canal Atlantic Cup cayuco race results
Panama's World Baseball Classic team loses manager, key players

Panama's World Baseball Classic team in disarray
by Eric Jackson

Let us first consider with whom we deal.

Franz Wever is the president of FEDEBEIS, Panama's national baseball federation. He is also a member of the National Assembly, a PRD deputy from a Panama City circuit. He's a cholo who rose to prominence through the taxi syndicates, in which he distinguished himself by pulling his gun on adversaries at a union meeting. His 2004 re-election was unsuccessfully impugned: although it was definitively shown that the number of votes cast and the number of votes counted did not jibe, and although Electoral Prosecutor Gerardo Solís sought to have Wever's immunity lifted so that he could face criminal proceedings for buying votes, fellow PRD candidate Maribel Coco, who challenged the result, could not conclusively prove without an investigation that irregularities made the difference between whether she or Wever got that seat from the multi-member circuit. (We don't have recounts in Panama. In our-corruption-friendly election system, the ballots are burned and only the acta, the election officials' tally sheet, remains as evidence of what the voters did.) Wever's colleagues in the current legislature, in keeping with their perfect record of rejecting all attempts to investigate or prosecute political corruption, rejected Solís's petition to lift Wever's immunity.

Roberto Kelly is a manager in the San Francisco Giants minor league farm system. He was an outfielder for 14 seasons in Major League Baseball --- never a superstar, but a solid player for several teams. A black man from Colon, he was chosen by FEDEBEIS to manage Panama's team for the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Kelly has faced a number of problems in putting together the team, starting with the decision by this country's only active player who is reasonably sure to be elected to the Hall of Fame, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, not to play. (Although Yankees owner George Steinbrenner has pressured a number of his expensive players not to risk injury by playing in the World Baseball Classic, Rivera says that his decision is based upon a rest and training schedule that would leave him not in proper shape to pitch during the March tournament.) Also dropping off the squad for various reasons were infielders José Macías and Ángel Chávez, and pitcher Ramiro Mendoza. Kelly and several of the players who will play for Panama in the classic have had to arrange their schedules around spring training in the United States. For when he was to be away in Arizona working with the Giants organization during the last days of February, Kelly put together a training schedule with his coaches, for the players who would be remaining in Panama to train. Meanwhile, he had to deal with player discontent about FEDEBEIS being late in paying the expenses stipends promised to members of the team.

And then FEDEBEIS did two things:

1) Pursuant to the advice of pitching coach Johnny Córdoba, Kelly had added catcher Claudino Hernández to the team. FEDEBEIS overruled Kelly and excluded Hernández from the team.

2) Kelly had arranged for those players still in Panama to continue their training schedule under the coaching staff for the rest of the month, rather than playing in the national men's tournament. FEDEBEIS overruled Kelly and pressed for the team members to interrupt their training to play for provincial teams in the tournament.

According to El Panama America, the acrimony inherent in these power plays was enhanced by racist comments directed by FEDEBEIS leaders against Kelly.

So Kelly, maintaining that he's a professional manager who can't work under such conditions, quit the team.

It's all a misunderstanding, Wever told the TV stations and daily newspapers.

That it might very well be: a thuggish political boss's failure to understand that there are people who are not beholden to him and are unimpressed by whatever threats or offers he might make; an established baseball professional's failure to take cognizance of the pecking order promoted by the PRD government and social milieu.

And in the world of baseball outside of Panama, people aren't going to understand either.


Also in this section:
Melia Panama Canal Atlantic Cup cayuco race results
Panama's World Baseball Classic team loses manager, key players

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