From a front-page story in today’s Kansas City Star, it is clear that the strange, self-defeating outbursts we used to see on the field from Royals’ pitcher Yordano Ventura were by-products of a personal life that was at best chaotic and at worst out of control.
The writers, sports columnist Vahe Gregorian and Metro reporter Maria Torres, shed much light on elements of Ventura’s life that the public had not been privy to before he died in a one-car crash in the Dominican Republic on Jan. 22.
Consider, for example, that the 25-year-old Ventura had been estranged from his mother for nearly a year, since shortly after marrying a woman who was already married at the time she and Ventura married.
From The Star’s story, it sounds like the woman he married, Maria del Pilar Sangiovanni, was strictly bad news. The couple argued a lot, and The Star’s story suggests that Sangiovanni’s father might have choreographed two incidents — one in Surprise, Arizona, the other in Kansas City — involving threats to Ventura. After the first incident, Ventura told police he believed Sangiovanni’s father, who has connections to the ruling political party in the Dominican Republic, intended to have him killed.
The couple separated in July — six months after the wedding — in the midst of Ventura’s last baseball season, a season marked by Ventura throwing at hitters and getting into confrontations with opposing players.
The Star’s story, while it sheds much light on Ventura’s immaturity and bad judgment, leaves unanswered two very big questions. First: How did he end up where he was when he crashed his souped-up Jeep that fateful morning? Second: Was he drunk or on illegal and/or prescription drugs.
We may never get satisfactory answers to either question. Regarding what chemical elements might have been in his blood, authorities in the Dominican Republic said last week they have the results of toxicology tests but do not intend to make them public.
How should we interpret that? Well, I’d say there’s about a 99 percent chance he was impaired at the time of the crash.
I cannot fault The Star for not being able to get the toxicology report. Maybe we will learn about that some day, maybe not. But I do fault The Star for not doing more to get to the bottom of the other big question — how he ended up where he was when he crashed.
Ventura left a party in San Jose de Ocoa, in southern Dominican Republic, about 3 a.m., according to The Star, and was headed for Sangiovanni’s house in the city of Constanza. (She says the couple was attempting to reconcile.)
If Constanza was, indeed, his destination, he was taking a very strange route because Constanza is northwest of San Jose de Ocoa, while Ventura was driving northeast. What is known is that he crashed the Jeep about 5 a.m. in the city of Juan Adrian, about 28 miles northeast of his starting point. (He was averaging less than 15 miles an hour.)
Gregorian does not address the misdirection in his story, but an accompanying map offers this explanation: “The fastest route (to Constanza) is not direct and will take him through Juan Adrian.”
That cannot be right. It makes no sense. Take a look at the map (above) I got from Google. Ventura was going away from Constanza (along the blue line) on highway 201. (The blue line ends at the crash site.)
Constanza, as you can see, is just north of Parque Nacional Valle Nuevo (far left side of the map), off highway 410.
Now, maybe Ventura was lost, as The Star’s story suggests, but it appears virtually impossible that the route he was on is “the fastest route” to Constanza. According to the Google map, there are only two major highways heading north out of San Jose do Ocoa: One goes toward Juan Adrian, the other goes toward Constanza.
Ventura wasn’t a little off course; he was 45 degrees off.
After sending two reporters and two photographers to the Dominican Republic…after weeks of investigation….and after many news and feature stories, The Star, unhappily, still hasn’t unearthed a satisfactory account of what happened that fateful morning in the southern Dominican Republic.