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Lou Brown weighs in on Fausto Carmona’s arrest and the problem with Dominican baseball players and false identities.

Major League Baseball currently has an identity crisis.  It used to be a relatively isolated problem, as only the Giants, Red Sox, and Yankees don’t feature player names on their home jerseys (the Yankees don’t have names on their road jerseys either because, well, they’re the Yankees).  If you didn’t know the names of the players on your favorite team, you either needed to be a better fan or needed a better set of glasses (or binoculars if you’re sitting in the cheap seats).  But now, not even a name prominently emblazoned across one’s shoulders is enough for even the most seasoned baseball aficionado.

MLB’s identity crisis stems from the emerging trend of international (read: “Dominican”) players applying for work visas under false identities, only to be found out years later.  This past week, pitcher Fausto Carmona of the Cleveland Indians continued his roller-coaster ride of a career by finding himself in trouble with the law.  Carmona found himself under arrest when it turned out that he isn’t Fausto Carmona.  Rather, “Fausto Carmona” is actually Roberto Hernández Heredia (no word on who “Fausto Carmona” actually is).  He’s also not 28 years old, but actually 31, which is a huge difference in the shelf life of a pitcher.  I assume that he’s still right handed, but the jury’s still out on that too.  Regardless, this is the biggest scandal to hit the Tribe since we learned that Pedro “the Cuban Missile Crisis” Cerrano was actually President David Palmer embedded in a covert operation attempting to keep the Indians from relocating to Miami!

There, problem solved!

Speaking of Miami, “Fausto Carmona” is merely the latest Dominican to run into trouble with Johnny Law (or perhaps more appropriately, Juan Ley) during this off season.  Miami Marlins closer “Leo Núñez” ran into similar trouble in early December when it was revealed that he is actually Juan Carlos Oviedo. He too is not 28, but rather 29 (also still right handed until further notice).  Surely, this issue won’t begin and end with “Núñez” and “Carmona.”

Now, before we get all high and mighty, let’s not call this a “cheating” scandal.  Why?  Because it isn’t.  Cheating implies that there is some competitive advantage  gained through one’s actions (see: Ryan Braun, his MVP award, and his positive steroid test).  “Carmona’s” actions clearly didn’t help him on the field (career stats: 53-66/4.59 ERA with one winning season).  Would pitching under his legal name have altered his or “Núñez’s” performance for better or worse?  No.  Would The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn be any less enjoyable if the cover said Samuel Clemens?  Also no.  So, although it’s a moot point on the performance front, their actions remain highly unethical (see: Danny Almonte).

Last week, Jobu posted an exposé of Bud Selig’s proclivity for appearing hard of hearing in photographs that are taken out of context.  The truth is that the Commish is also visually impaired.  I mean, he’s turned a blind eye to baseball’s competitive imbalance, steroid addiction, and the significance of the All-Star Game.  Do we really think his reaction to this issue will be any different?  The fact is baseball has become a “relatively” global game (still not playing it in Burkina Faso, Lichtenstein, or Kyrgyzstan, but some day…) and MLB needs to find a way to subject everyone to the draft (a la the NBA) to prevent international prospects from breaking international law with the hopes of improving their stock.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before more players are identified as having illegal aliases.  Until then, maybe we should print the programs in pencil so we update our scorecards when needed.  No, seriously:  Who’s on first?  Really, I don’t know (Third Base!)

Arrest image courtesy of: AP Photo/Manuel Diaz
“Carmona” image courtesy of: winner711/Flickr.com, Photoshopping by Lou Brown

Lou Brown

About Lou Brown

Lou Brown was the manager of the 1989 Miracle Indians. He loves getting in front of the damn ball, specials on whitewalls, and wasting sports writers time. He dislikes diving into lockers, being given "this olé bullshit," and Roger Dorn.

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