The politics of it all.
Minor league baseball players are preparing for winter baseball whether it is with Major League Baseball backed instructional league teams or in the Caribbean. One place that players who have a connection with Major League Baseball will not be able to play ball is in Venezuela. The Trump Administration has hit the country with sanctions and one of those economic penalties is not allowing MLB signed players to play winter ball in the country. It is not the first time that the Trump Administration has gotten involved with Major League Baseball business. Earlier this year, the administration banned Major League Baseball teams from directly signing Cuban players. Sports may provide an escape from reality for a few hours a day for some who watch games but sports has been an important plank in propaganda and public policy for a long, long time.
The International Olympic Committee can attest to that. The 1936 Berlin Olympics, the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and the Thommie Smith, John Carlos protests. The 1976 African countries Montreal Olympics boycott. The American-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games because of the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan. The Soviet Union-led boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. In football, the American Football League players boycott of the 1964 All-Star Game in New Orleans because of Jim Crow practices after the 1964 Civil Rights Act was signed. The present-day NFL players protests during the national anthem and athlete protests during an awards ceremony at the Pan American Games in Peru. Some protests such as the Philadelphia 76ers Wali Jones not appearing on an NBA court for the national anthem in the 1960s went unnoticed. Others that included Muhammad Ali refusal to enter the United States military in 1967 as a protest against the Vietnam War were noticed. Sports is not immune to world affairs.