One of the last remaining clips holding my love for sports together is the enthusiasm and emotion, although more rare with the passing of time, professional athletes display while playing their respective sport.
Looking past the money-filled briefcases and Kardashian-sized egos, it’s refreshing to see Mike Trout turning for third at 100 miles per hour and popping up dirty when he gets there; Rafa Nadal’s tormented expression and pump of the fist after securing an important point; Manu Ginobili’s half twirl of the right arm and look of determination after drilling a three-pointer.
Hanley Ramirez, traded early yesterday morning in a blockbuster four-player swap with the Dodgers has never showed any of that—unless you count his half-hearted rub of the eyes during Wednesday’s press conference in Miami—and never will. At least not as a Marlin.
The one thing my father always pointed out to me, whether we were at the stadium or sitting on the sofa, was how hard Latin players went on the diamond. Tony Perez. Tony Oliva. Roberto Clemente. Bert Campanaris. Those guys played each game as if it would be their last.
Ramirez, for some reason, has never shown that.
No drive. No desire. No hunger.
Wasn’t that Hanley Ramirez in a sports drink commercial answering his critics by inking names on his bat and promising to return all the negative messages with venom?
He answered with venom alright, only in producing little offense, acting childish and flipping his nose at the authority up until the very end. Well, if hitting .246 with 14 homers and 47 RBIs is franchise player-material than the Marlins got a bargain. And one batting title doesn’t make a career.
For a player of his supposed status Ramirez did little, if anything, to make his teammates better, including in the clubhouse where he rarely stood up.
Perhaps not accustomed to producing a lot of them, Ramirez celebrated game-winning hits as if they were going out of style, but the rest of the time played the game as if he was being asked to paint a wall in white.
It’s clear by now Hanley Ramirez, who for so long has played the role of gifted child with little interest of burying his face in the textbook , proved to be a classic underachiever with serious attitude issues, and an expensive one with the Marlins. I’m not very good at reading body language, but Ramirez just never looked engaged, even when things were going well.
Remember all the hype before the season about how this star-laden team would take the National League by storm? Ramirez, considered the clog of the franchise since coming over from Boston, was again supposed to lead the way for a young, but emerging team with a bright future.
Even manager Ozzie Guillen went out of his way to stroke Ramirez’s ego by saying how the team was definitely still building around him. He pleaded with the media that Ramirez would be fine at third base, while Hanley whined throughout the winter. But $37 million in the hole for a player that has shown a steady decline the past three years was enough to send him packing, if not his immaturity.
How else to explain his removal of a hand bandage and refusal to take antibiotics after coming down with a hand infection? Oh, and the only reason he had the hand infection was because he cut his hand shoving a dugout fan. Like my two most recent girlfriends, Ramirez is 28 going on 12.
But that’s not to bury Ramirez forever. He needed to get away from Miami not only for his sake, but for the Marlins as well. Perhaps a team built around Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Reyes can run circles around the rest of the league, unlike the 2012 version.
Who knows? Ramirez in between Matt Kemp and Andre Either just might be what the Dodgers need to run down the Giants.
Fun times for baseball fans in Hollywood, but not so much fun for those in South Beach.
Wasn’t this the ‘Showtime’ squad with the new digs in Little Havana and potential dynasty with the signings of Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell during the off-season? But after two major trades this week this smells a bit fishy and so much like 1997 and 2003 when the Marlins dismantled those respective teams.
Ramirez is off to Hollywood where perhaps a new home address will spark a light—or two —under a tremendously gifted player.
For those of us baseball fans staying in Miami, I think we’ve seen this movie before.