By now, we’ve all seen The Jog, Monday’s clip of Hanley Ramirez lollygagging after a ball he’d kicked into left field as two runs scored. Joe Posnanski called it “devastating” and “nauseating.” “That’s not the way the game’s supposed to be played,” said his teammate, Wes Helms. Hanley was pulled out of the game at the end of the inning and rode the pine on Tuesday; “We all support what skipper did,” said Dan Uggla. Really, just about everyone, from Uggla to Posnanski to our own Jack Moore approved of manager Fredi Gonzalez’s austere treatment of his moody star. Hanley finally apologized and played in yesterday’s game.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. It turns out that, before Hanley’s apology, Andre Dawson took him in a room (with fellow Hall of Famer standing post) and chewed him out:
Look, I’m going to level with you. 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…
You really have stepped across the line. 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.
We know all of this because Dawson told the Palm Beach Post. Apparently, “This is from me to you” didn’t preclude Dawson sharing the conversation with the press. Perhaps Dawson calculated that making it public was best for Hanley’s development, that he deserved to be called out in the most public way possible — though, because the story paints Dawson in the most favorable possible light, it’s also easy to believe that Dawson was motivated by the desire to look good. But even in a world with mic’ed up managers, a full forty years after Jim Bouton’s Ball Four, what happens in the clubhouse usually stays in the clubhouse. In this case, it didn’t.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Hanley has had problems in the clubhouse. Last fall, he and Uggla got into a major spat when he came out of a game with cramps and Uggla thought he should have stayed in the game. Jayson Stark quotes an anonymous ex-Marlin saying,
Hanley frustrates the guys on that team, because everyone knows how much talent he has. Everyone has seen how great he can be out there. But then they also see the times where he just kind of gets nonchalant. It seems like he can turn the switch on any time he wants to. But he doesn’t always turn it on.
Hanley isn’t going anywhere. He’s signed through 2014, and he’s not just the best and most expensive player on the team, he’s the greatest player in the history of the franchise. (Sorry, Jeff Conine.) So the Marlins just have to live with his foibles, in public and in private.
But Dawson’s move may be counterproductive. Stark’s source says of Ramirez, “When something goes bad, then [Hanley] thinks everyone’s against him.” In other words, says Posnanski: Hanley Ramirez “has a persecution complex.” It’s hard to imagine that he’ll feel any better after reading his man-to-man with Dawson in the newspaper. It’s clear that Hanley isn’t completely comfortable in his own skin yet. So, was Dawson right, that going public with tough love is the only way that Ramirez will ever learn? Or did Dawson cross a line of his own?
Alex is a writer for The Hardball Times, and is an enterprise account executive for The Washington Post.