A reader on one of the bajillion stories about this week's Hanley Ramirez Loafing Horror noted that the lollygagging shortstop's questionable play Monday night would have passed for playoff intensity in Cleveland.
It's one of the world's great mysteries, then, that his hustle wasn't good enough for the Florida Marlins, but there you have it: it wasn't. And it isn't. But of the two fueding sides, Ramirez and manager Fredi Gonzalez, there's only one expendable party -- and it's the one that handled the situation mostly right.
Sure, Gonzalez could have waited until after the game, handled Ramirez' six-second jog to a kicked ball internally (for the record, it takes me less time to run to the door for pizza delivery.) And yes, managing the game means managing the egos -- but Gonzalez did wait until the inning was over, declining to "Billy Martin" Ramirez as bloodthirsty announcers wanted. He did first check to see if Ramirez was still hurt before he sent him to the showers.
Ramirez, video clearly showed, indicated otherwise. And then what's left to do? It was, very arguably, the most lackadaisical play in several decades of a sport with slow, fat people.
We're not going Skip Bayless on Hanley Ramirez here. We all have a day where we get frustrated and dog it on the job, Hanley Ramirez didn't rob our grandmas, and it's likely two runs were going to be scored either way. But it's hardly the first (or tenth) time Ramirez has been called out for a lack of hustle, which forced the point. For every feud with Wes Helms or Dan Uggla we know about, there's likely five more we don't -- and no one's asking Hanley to do any more than run.
In other words, Ramirez had to either shape up or things were coming to a head in the clubhouse. That Gonzalez had the stones to do something about it even as his job dangles by a thread is pretty admirable -- and as they say about moments of intensity, it showed what each man was made of.
For Ramirez, that's "excuses, with a side of douchebaggery." He said he had no idea what he'd apologize for, noted no one else on the team can play like he does, referred to Gonzalez with a choice f-word, and said his manager doesn't understand how hard it is to play with pain, because "he never played in the big leagues."
Fredi merely replied with a simple, "He's right. But I know how to play the game" -- again handling it as a guy with a team of upstarts, has-beens, and youngsters ought. It's not personal, he was saying: it's about the team, and it's about effort, and one guy isn't going to ruin it for everyone.
Problem is, the Marlins are probably the same Marlins without Gonzalez. But the Marlins without Hanley Ramirez are the Pirates. If, in the end, the situation comes down to one of two options, well, don't go scarring your faces or putting out an eye in an act of tribute to the home team.
Janie Campbell is a Florida native who believes in the pro-set and ballpark hot dogs. Her work has appeared in irreverent sports sites around the internet.