Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dominican Pitcher Alfredo Simon Suspect in Shooting Death

The recent news that Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon is the main suspect in the shooting death of a man in his native Dominican Republic hearkens to the situation of Angel Villalona a year ago.  While both were involved in a shooting death, on further inspection the situations are quite different.

Villalona is accused of shooting a man in a night club after a disagreement.  The Dominican Baseball Guy added a couple updates on the Villalona situation which you can see here.  There are plenty of links to all the relevant stories from a year ago within these two blog posts.  Villalona is still awaiting trial, but according to this article, he is back playing baseball again, so may be able to make it back to the states some day.  Villalona is from La Romana, DR.

The case of Simon seems to be different.  While Villalona was a minor league player yet to reach the big leagues, Simon debuted 3 years ago for the Orioles and played in 49 games last year.  The other difference is that the shooting Simon was involved in seems to be accidental.  According to the latest AP story, Simon is being charged with involuntary manslaughter, as he either fired a gun in the air to celebrate New Year's Eve or had a gun go off accidentally while breaking up a fight between two women.  Simon's lawyer is saying he merely shot his gun in the air to celebrate the new year.  The saddest part is that the dead man was his cousin.  Alfredo is from Santiago, DR.
This brings up the inevitable "why is a multi-million dollar athlete carrying a pistol?"  Well in the states the Dominican Baseball Guy agrees, but the fact is the Dominican Republic is a very rough place and lots of people carry weapons.  Security in the country is sparse, especially in smaller cities, and Dominicans grow up in an atmosphere where fighting and weapons are widespread.  So, it is hard for professional baseball players to forget their upbringing in that environment.

The Dominican Baseball Guy thinks the best thing for these guys is to just stay away from the country, if they feel they will be tempted to visit their old stomping grounds.  But that would mean never seeing their family and friends again in many cases.  So, as you can see it is a vicious cycle.  Simon is just 29 and has a promising career ahead of him, so if it was an accident, hopefully he can make an arrangement with the family and  get back to the big leagues at some point.

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