A long, difficult day waiting for news

A long, difficult day waiting for news
November 11, 2011, 3:13 am
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They played baseball in three Venezuelan cities tonight, participants on all teams wearing green ribbons on their jerseys, fans holding candlelight vigils outside the gates, prayers being recited by everyone in attendance.

And in the Ramos home on the outskirts of Valencia, a family and a tight-knit community sat helpless, waiting through an interminable day for any bits of information that might offer some clues about the whereabouts and status of the soft-spoken, 24-year-old catcher who has suddenly become the victim of the highest-profile kidnapping case in baseball history.

"Thanks for your prayers and support," family friend Marfa Mata posted on her Twitter account this evening. "We don't know anything about him. Still waiting..."

A flurry of reports and developments earlier in the day offered some hope that resolution to the ordeal might be forthcoming. But the afternoon and evening were eerily quiet, and the one development everyone wanted to hear -- Wilson Ramos' safe return home -- had not yet come.

Instead, confusion reigned, with more questions being raised than answered. The Venezuelan intelligence police insisted it could confirm Ramos was alive, yet offered no details. Ramos' family, meanwhile, insisted it had not been contacted by the kidnappers, even as the clock ticked past the 24-hour mark.

How were those seemingly contradictory reports possible? How could anyone know for certain Ramos was alive if his abductors had not yet contacted his family?

The truth perhaps can be found by examining the words not used by authorities. Ramos' kidnappers have not yet contacted his family, but no one has said if they've contacted anyone else.

Then there is the unsettling lack of information coming from the Washington Nationals and Major League Baseball. Aside from a three-sentence, joint statement that offered little more than their support for Ramos and his family, neither MLB nor the Nationals is saying anything. Team officials have declined comment; players have been told they cannot answer questions.

Read between the lines, and it should be clear the Nationals and MLB know a lot more than they're letting on and are actively involved in the attempt to bring Ramos home.

And that's how it should be. This pursuit of a captured teammate, relative and friend is a difficult enough task without the public knowing specific details. The best way to ensure the best possible outcome is to keep the general public (and, in this case, Ramos' abductors) out of the loop.

Make no mistake, MLB has prepared for such a situation. An active major leaguer may never have been kidnapped before, but the league and its Department of Investigations (which has officials on the ground in Venezuela) knew this might happen some day and must have had protocols in place to deal with it.

We probably won't learn all the details until this ordeal is over -- and there may be plenty of details we never learn in the interest of preventing future kidnappings -- but rest assured there are a lot of people right now working extremely hard to bring Ramos safely home.

That may or may not be consolation to everyone who has been nervously waiting more than 24 hours for good news. But for now, it's as close as we're going to get to a comforting thought.

In the meantime, they played three ballgames in Venezuela tonight, Ramos' Aragua club beating Margarita 7-3, Jesus Flores going 1-for-2 with a double for Magallanes to raise his batting average to a league-high .400.

All the while, a community gathered in Valencia and continued the interminable wait for information about its missing son.

And back in D.C., the rest of us watched from afar, hoping the news we all want to hear will be delivered sometime soon.