Identity and Age Fraud Keeps Cleveland Pitcher Out of the Game

Identity and Age Fraud Keeps Cleveland Pitcher Out of the Game

Cleveland pitcher Roberto Hernandez, also known as Fausto Carmona, was suspended because he lied about his age and his identity in his native country of the Dominican Republic.  This happened when he attempted to renew his visa before coming back to the United States.  Not only did his name not match but it was also found that he is three years older than the age of 31 listed on his paperwork.

Eek! Why would someone lie about such important facts when they know they must travel across country borders? It doesn’t make a lot of sense but he might have had hidden reasons that we cannot understand on the surface.

Hernadez, Fausto Carmona, was suspended for three weeks by the MLB. He then had to return to his home country to sort out his legal affairs. He’s now returned to the Indians and a million dollar contract in the States.

Many will say that this is a light sentence considering other cases of identity and age frauds have gotten players permanently suspended and even deported.

The MLB needs to have more consistency in their sentencing and perhaps have a set penalty for this type of player conduct infraction.  Miami Marlins’ Juan Carlos Oviedo, aka Leo Nunez, got eight weeks suspension for the same type of charges.

So why are players changing their identities in the first place?

Well, take a look at how much professional sports in the United States are paying and you can get a better grasp on how this sort of thing happens. Some of these players come from poor countries and have many family members to support (such as their extended families, parents and more). They see an opportunity for their talent by playing a professional sport like baseball for the Major Leagues but perhaps there are some minor details getting in the way- such as age.

So perhaps they change identities to make them appear a little younger and more desirable to the League or maybe they hope they can get a few extra prime years out of their service before they get too old. The fact is that if they are a talented player, they shouldn’t have to lie to get picked up by a professional contract.

While some of them may have good reasoning for their actions, there are still consequences to those actions. By lying, they may be pushing someone else who is properly qualified out of a position. The MLB should take a strict stance on things like identity and age fraud to stop this from happening. 3 weeks is like a slap on the wrist when some may question whether or not he should even be there since his contract was signed under false pretenses.

Hernandez is 53-66 with a 4.59 earned-run average in five wildly inconsistent seasons. His best season came in 2007, when he finished 19-8 with a 3.08 ERA.

What do you think; was the sentencing on Hernandez too lax?

Lisa Mason is a freelance writer, sports lover and founder of Sports Zone Media.