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Hanley Ramirez and Ozzie Guillen have both called special team meetings while the Marlins have stumbled to the bottom of the NL East in June.
The Miami Marlins have not had a great June. While their fan base was distracted by the Miami Heat's run to the NBA Finals, the Marlins have fallen from first place in the NL East to the cellar, going 5-16 in the month of June.
Sensing their window of Heat-related invisibility would soon be over, the team has been trying to pick itself up for the past week. First, team owner Jeffrey Loria gave the team a clubhouse pep talk on Thursday. "I'm not quitting on you, so don't quit on yourselves," he told them.
The team went on to lose its fourth game in a row that evening, extending a losing streak that would go on for two more games.
Next, manager Ozzie Guillen prodded his charges through the media. After saying he held a team meeting a week prior to snap the Marlins out of their funk, he lamented, "I look like Obama, having a meeting every freaking day."
"I'm not that type of manager," he continued Saturday. "They never even see how I can get. That's why I've tried to be patient, talking very normal here, but what I see is terrible."
The Marlins lost Saturday, too (for the sixth time in a row). Then the unthinkable happened: Hanley Ramirez called a players-only meeting behind closed doors. The Marlins third-baseman, who in previous seasons had been the reason other teammates had called closed-door meetings, reportedly told his team to stay loose and put its recent struggles behind them. Teammates Greg Dobbs, John Buck, and Carlos Zambrano also spoke at the meeting.
"We are trying to do too much," he said. "We're putting too much pressure on ourselves. When you're young, you want to do good, instead of going out there, relaxing and playing hard. You want to produce every at-bat, every pitch. You put too much pressure on yourself, your tendons get tight. I think that's what we're going through right now."
Ramirez did not elaborate too much beyond that, saying "It's our thing, it's for the players. We're going to keep this between ourselves."
His teammates praised Ramirez' effort. "It was perfectly said at a time that we needed to hear it," said Buck. "And it happened and needed to be heard from that person." "He was right on with what he was saying," Logan Morrison added.
But Guillen reiterated the bottom line: "Leadership is not just the clubhouse. It's everywhere," he said. "You lead by example. Hanley wants to be our leader? You've got to go out there and make sure your teammates know you're for real and play the game right."
Ramirez did contribute a two-run triple in the Marlins' streak-busting win on Sunday, but his .258 average is not exactly what the Marlins were hoping for this season. Though his power numbers are good (Ramirez has already surpassed his 2011 home run total with 11), his .200 average with runners in scoring position has not been a welcome sign for the Marlins.
But if meetings could solve hitting problems, the Marlins would not have waited this long to start calling meetings. Indeed, Ramirez' meeting was the first (in at least three tries) that resulted in a win the same day.
Perhaps the Marlins' luck has turned, and the team is about to go on a winning streak. But if that happens, it probably won't be because the team talked it out while the media waited outside the clubhouse.