The video of Yordano Ventura’s grieving mother is readily available on Facebook, and I pray that every major league team shows it to its players this spring. Marisol Ventura’s plea must be heard from the big league roster all the way down through the farm system.
She delivered a powerful and important message to his friends and Royals teammates a day before the hard-throwing righthander was laid to rest in the Dominican Republic.
It’s way too early to know what led to the car accident that claimed Ventura’s life this weekend in his native Dominican Republic, so it’s unfair to speculate.
But as they say throughout Latin America, “Ya basta!”
Ventura is the latest baseball star to die way too young, less than four months after Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in Miami.
Ventura went to his grave a little more than two years after his good friend Oscar Taveras, the former Cardinals outfielder, died in a car accident in the Dominican.
Until you visit the Dominican Republic, it’s impossible to truly understand the poverty that many ballplayers there overcome on their road to the majors.
Young, strong men often forget how fragile life is. It’s easy for elite athletes to forget that they’re not invincible, especially when they are worshiped merely because they can throw a sphere harder than most mortals.
With so many folks trying to get a piece of them, major leaguers often find themselves surrounded by sycophants.
That story is not specific to the Dominican Republic, though. You can find it in the NFL, NBA, NHL and throughout the majors. You’ll also find it at local high schools and colleges, where there’s always somebody trying to cash in on another person’s talents.
Folks on the gravy train rarely tell you when you’re on the wrong path.
Ventura, 25, was set for life when he signed a five-year, $23 million extension with the Royals in 2015. He had made it.
Now he’s gone. Only grief, sadness and questions remain.
We cannot and should not assume that Ventura was under the influence of alcohol just because Taveras was at the time of his car accident.
It’s important to remember that the roads in the Dominican Republic are treacherous.
Nonetheless, let us all listen to the plea Ventura’s mother made to his friends and teammates Monday at her home.
“No matter how much advice you give them, they want to do what they please,” she said. “And when they want to do what they please, disaster arrives. We never want disaster for our sons or any other family.
“So my sons, take care of yourself. Don’t be carried away by beverages. That destroys. It destroys the body, destroys the soul and destroys the family. And the family is the most important thing.”
In the video, which was posted to the “La Guerra de la MLB” Facebook page, Ventura’s mother lectured the players without raising her voice.
She warned them against the so-called friends who can often be seen hanging around professional athletes.
The players respectfully listened as she continued to preach.
“There are no friends,” she said. “There is no friend. Your only friend is Jesus. When you are alone, you only call on Jesus, not even your mother who gave birth to you.
“You call on Jesus because he’s the only one who is in every place, at every moment and everywhere. Take care of yourself. Take care of yourself.”
As she pleaded for them to take care of themselves, she made a fist with her left hand and motioned back and forth for emphasis, pointing her index finger upward at times.
She calmly and sternly tried to make her message sink in so that other mothers won’t feel her grief one day. She wants to save mothers from the sorrow that Fernandez’s mother felt last September and Taveras’ family felt Oct. 26, 2014.
“Now you know that advice that I give all of you,” she said while pointing at each player. “And to everybody that has come here, that’s the advice I give them. Because I know what I’ve gone through with (Yordano).”
The players listened attentively, bowing their heads as she looked into their eyes and pointed her index finger at them.
She wanted them to learn from his death and to listen to the advice that he dismissed on more than a few occasions.
She then recited the names of each grieving family member Ventura left behind.
“We gave him a lot of advice,” she told the players. “We talked to him a lot. But I know that he told me one day, ‘To me, no matter how much advice you give me, if I say I’m going somewhere, I’m going there even if I break my neck.’ And I don’t tell you that because you can go by that.
“No, no, no, no. You cannot say that because you aren’t elders. You are children still. You still don’t know how life turns.”
She implored the players to learn from what she has seen in the world. She wished God’s blessings on them, asked them to take care of themselves one last time and then walked away as they dabbed at their eyes.
You are never too successful, too powerful or too strong to learn from a grieving mother’s advice. This time it was the Royals. In September it was the Marlins. The Cardinals felt this grief in 2014 with Taveras and in 2007 when Josh Hancock died in an accident while driving drunk.
None of us is indestructible. Listen to the people who truly love you, the ones who were there at the start and will be there for you whether you make it or not.