Tuesday, May 18, 2010

If You Kids Don't Knock It Off, We Will Pull This Team Over and Go Home

Remember when Bob Brenly and Dave Kaplan wanted to yank Alfonso Soriano out of the lineup for not hustling on a double that should have been a triple (in their opinion)?

Fredi Gonzalez must get WGN-TV in his cable package, or one of the MLB packages that brings the sights and sounds of Chicago Cubs baseball to his computer because he took a page out of the book about how to deal with a loafing superstar co-authored by the pair. 

According to ESPN, Gonzalez pulled the Marlins' star shortstop, Hanley Ramirez, out of the game last night after an error where he accidentally kicked a ball into the outfield and then did not hustle after it, allowing a couple of runners to score.

Ramirez did not react well to the disciplinary action handed down by his manager.

"It's his team. He can do whatever he [expletive] wants," Ramirez, referring to his benching, told reporters Tuesday....

Ramirez said he didn't see the need to apologize to the team.

"We got a lot of people dogging it after ground balls. They don't apologize," Ramirez told reporters, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Maybe Bob and Kap don't understand that these guys making millions of dollars and being told how great and wonderful they are by an entourage of sycophants don't really react well when being treated like a Little Leaguer.  Maybe they don't care.
As fans, we want the players to care more about the team than themselves and to have the maturity and level-headedness to handle an authority figure handing out consequences for their actions that are detrimental to the team, but that just isn't a reasonable expectation after years of coddling.  Most parents will tell you that pacifying a child for years just to keep them happy will not prepare that child for criticism or discipline later in life.  Te kids will probably just blame someone else for making too big a deal out of their mistakes.
Ramirez took a shot at his manager on Tuesday for removing him from the game.

"That's OK. He doesn't understand that. He never played in the big leagues," Ramirez said, according to the Post.

If we want players playing the "right" way, then the education has to start early on.  So if anyone has any ideas about how to prevent Little League, high school, and college coaches from having different standards for the highest performing players as they grow up, now's the time.  Otherwise, pro players aren't going to change and their major league managers will be left with a largely undisciplined group of athletes who don't like to listen to anybody tell them how to play better or harder.
Fredi Gonzalez was asked if there would be any more punishment handed down to Ramirez after the benching:
"You mean more embarrassment than being taken out of a major league game?"

He could always demote him to mop-up duty in the bullpen.  It would take a virtual super-human amount of self-discipline to keep a highly-paid star from complaining about a slap in the face like that.  In fact, if one were to encounter such a star player, in this day and age, who could take an insult to their ego without completely exploding and destroying such a valuable commodity as clubhouse chemistry, one would think someone might be apt to laud said individual as an example of how we want our athletes to behave, instead of piling on insults.
Or not.


If Hanley Ramirez doesn't want to listen to Fredi Gonzalez because he never played the game, then maybe he will listen to a couple of guys who not only played the game, but played it well enough to earn their way into the Hall of Fame.

Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post, reported that Andre Dawson and Tony Perez had a little closed-door meeting with Ramirez about his reaction to Gonzalez benching him.:

For 15 minutes, Ramirez sat and listened as the two Hall of Famers, who also work as Marlins assistants, tried to assess for Ramirez exactly the damage he had done to himself by ripping into his manager for pulling him off the field Monday night because he didn't hustle.

Dawson said he did most of the talking in this intervention, which took place about an hour before Tuesday's game. Dawson today recounted it like this:

"Look, I'm going to level with you,' he told Ramirez. "You either hear me or you don't. For one, you're not bigger than the game. You don't show a manager up. The way you're going about this is literally the wrong way. It's an immature act … and this could come back to bite you in the rear end in the worst way.'

Ramirez didn't say a word. His eyes darted from Dawson's to Perez's and then he looked away.

"You really have stepped across the line,' Dawson said. "You owe that manager a sincere apology. And if you think your teammates have your back with this, you've got another thing coming because the mind-set, and this is from me to you, the mind-set is these guys are laughing at you."

Capozzi also tweeted this afternoon that Hanley will be apologizing to his teammates prior to Wednesday's game in St. Louis "in his own way."  Given how he has reacted so far, his way may very well involve an extended middle finger.  Maybe Dawson and Perez got through to the youngster.

Dawson wasn't sure their advice sunk in.

"He just sat there. He looked kind of aloof, out in space,' Dawson said. "I could see maybe a little disappointment on his face. I think he probably had, to a degree, regretted it but he didn't really say anything. Just at the end he said, 'Thank you.' "

The next escalation will probably involve the Marlins' owner, Jeffrey Loria, hauling Ramirez across his lap and giving him a good whuppin' with his belt.


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