Politics at the Plate

Magglio Ordonez's pro-Chavez stance unpopular with WBC teammates

MLB superstar Magglio Ordonez is used to boos raining down on him in opposing stadiums across the country.

But during the World Baseball Classic, the heckling is not about balls and strikes and not from fans of the opposing team. It's from his own countrymen.

Ordonez, who has aligned himself with controversial Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and even appeared in a political commercial supporting Chavez, has been getting an earful from Miami crowds since the team arrived in South Florida.

The predominantly Venezuelan crowd Sunday night apparently didn't agree with Ordonez's view that Chavez should lead the country til he dies. 

With 40,000 rabid baseball fans expected to attend Monday's Venezuela-Puerto Rico showdown, the boos could get deafening. Maybe the Marlins should look to acquire Ordonez from Detroit Tigers in a trade because who knows when the next time 40,000 people will show up at Dolphin Stadium for a baseball game.

The disdain for Ordonez has even spread to teammates. Poor Endy Chavez has become the focus of a popular cheer during the WBC.

When the lead-off outfielder comes to bat, the crowd goes into a "Endy si. Chavez no" chant.

Politics in sports is nothing new, especially when a sports figure takes a stand on an international stage. But the usually quiet Ordonez may have done irreparable harm to his rep with the stateside Venezuelan fan base.

At times, it has turned nasty. Several reports said that fans who caught foul balls off of Ordonez's bat were pressured into throwing away the souvenir.

Word of the boos made it all the way back to Venezuela, where President Chavez returned the love Ordonez showed him.

"Everyone has the right to think about politics," Chavez said. "This is shameful."

He even got in a little cheer to pep up his superstar supporter.

"Viva Magglio and all our patriots," Chavez said.

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