MIAMI -- They showed up in huge numbers to support their country.
They showed up in huge numbers to boo Magglio Ordonez.
To the thousands of Venezuelan fans who came to Dolphin Stadium for the World Baseball Classic, this all made perfect sense.
For them, it was simple. Ordonez supports Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. They don't.
But for many of the Venezuelans players, and even for a very few of the fans, this made no sense at all.
"That really stunk," said Jonathan Ballantyne, who came to the game wearing a Venezuela jersey with Ordonez's name and number on the back. "I don't see why they do that. It's a really, really bad thing. I'm very proud to wear his jersey, and I always will.
"Politics are different from sports. He's playing for us, and we're winning. So why (boo)?"
But they did boo, loudly, every time Ordonez came to the plate. They even booed when Ordonez's picture appeared on the video board in a World Baseball Classic promo.
Ordonez went 0-for-3, as the Venezuelans beat the Netherlands 3-1 in the opening game of the tournament's second round. He struck out in the fourth inning, just after Miguel Cabrera's long home run had given the Venezuelan team the lead.
The strikeout set off celebrations almost as wild as the ones that followed Cabrera's home run. It also brought Cabrera out of the first-base dugout, gesturing to the fans in "What the heck are you doing?" kind of way.
"I don't like that, you know," Cabrera said later. "We're Venezuelan, and we represent Venezuela. I don't like what I heard. But what can you do?"
Venezuelan fans also booed Ordonez during the first round of the tournament in Toronto, but people who were there said the booing was louder today.
"Here in Miami, you have a whole host of Venezuelans who live here and they're against the government, and I support the government," Ordonez said. "So that's why they boo me, they heckle me, they criticize me, because I made a personal decision.
"I am not really hurting anyone. I'm just here to help my team win and take that championship banner to Venezuela. But that's not the reality in my country."
Ordonez, who is more politically aware than more major-league players, has appeared with Chavez at political rallies, and has spoken out in favor of the controversial president.
"They may have their own reasons for booing me," Ordonez said. "I am not Venezuela. Venezuela is the entire team, and when they boo me, they're booing everybody. Actually, during the game, some players got upset. Hopefully, we'll turn the page, and things are going to be different the next game.
"We came over here to win and bring the championship to Venezuela, which really needs it."
The Venezuelan team has dealt with controversy before. Last summer, many Venezuelan major leaguers threatened to boycott this year's WBC, after feeling that the Venezuelan federation didn't treat the team right during the 2006 tournament. During the first round of this year's tournament, the Venezuelan players and manager Luis Sojo complained about the way the Venezuelan press covered the team.
Venezuela lost in the second round of the 2006 tournament. Ordonez nearly didn't play in that tournament, agreeing to join the team at the last minute after feeling strong pressure to play from fans, friends and family members back home. He went 2-for-20 that year.
Ordonez is 3-for-16 in this year's WBC.
Ordonez said he believes that many people in Venezuela love him. Ballantyne, a Venezuelan native who now lives in Vero Beach, Fla., agreed.
"He's a very good guy, and he's like an idol to me," Ballantyne said.