As someone who writes about baseball, I understand how hard it can be to come up with fresh angles, exciting stories, and nuanced interpretations of our beloved sport. Or, alternatively, how tempting it is to sell out, to resort to rote pieces and formulaic, write-by-numbers columns just to meet their deadlines.* [For more on selling out, please see my forthcoming book, How To Be a Sportswriter For Dummies: Becuz Smaht Peopel Become Doctorz.] Nevertheless, even my vaunted patience can be tested by pieces of such demerit as this.
Long ago (2008), our ancestors would have invoked their pagan gods to sit in judgment of such drek. However, with the Pantheon of FireJoeMorgan.com (FJM) having deserted us for more fulfilling work, like writing for hit sit-coms, today it is up to humble individuals like myself^ to take up their divine mission. So let's wade right in, shall we?
If it's not one Ramirez, it's another
(Tony Massarrotti, Boston Globe, May 21, 2010)
In Florida, where the episodes with the star player are as familiar as bad television reruns, maybe they are chalking it all up to just Hanley being Hanley. He plays like a man. He acts like a child.
I'm sorry but why are we talking about Hanley Ramirez? For a Red Sox beat writer like Mazz, has the season become so boring, so devoid of storylines, that we must discuss players on other teams in other leagues. Maybe it's just me, but there seems to be a surplus of contentious and interesting stories on the 2010 Red Sox: their shaky start, Ortiz's fall and resurgence, players hating the platoon, injuries, bad pitching all around. Surely this piece isn't a stretch to indulge the writer's obsession with a player as long-gone as FJM. Surely not.
[skims ahead to see if this is a labored attempt to equate Hanley Ramirez with Manny Ramirez] ... All of it cannot help but make you wonder if he shares more than a surname with a guy named Manny.
Oh... snap... He just played the surname card. In real life~, I happen to have the same surname as Morgan Freeman - does that make me God? Or a scholarly detective days away from retirement? Is my partner Randy Booth going to have his girlfriend Gwynneth Paltrow's head FedExed to him?` Will he gun down sadistic genius RevHalofan in a uncontrollable rage? I hope this column will answer these questions.
"Hanley has a tendency to think he’s great and he is great – he’s a great hitter, right? -- but I think he overdoes it a little bit," said Dan Duquette, who was the general manager of the Red Sox when the team signed Hanley Ramirez in 2000.
Nope, no answer as to whether surname is predestination, just a quote from Dan Duquette, the guy who drafted Hanley Ramirez. Now, the Duke is a real authority on him; I mean, how much could a person have changed in [checks calendar] 10 years, right? [CLICK CONTINUE READING FOR MORE.]
And then came the worst part: Ramirez opened his mouth. Rightfully pulled from the game and then benched by Florida Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, Ramirez publicly criticized his skipper, attempting to destroy his own manager’s credibility by pointing out that Gonzalez never played in the big leagues.
You know, pulling and benching your star hitter in the 2nd inning sounds pretty bad to me, when you're trying to win the game, but maybe that's just me. Especially when Ramirez's botched play may have been due to an injury. [For more on the incident, see ESPN's coverage here, or SBNation's here.] That sort of reaction might lead to a dispute between manager and player, it might lead to harsh words. Now, Hanley has apologized to all the players and people involved, something that I can't recall Manny ever doing, so why is this even worth discussing?
All of that brings us to today’s topic for discussion in Boston, where Hanley’s professional career effectively was born and bred: would you ever really want a guy like that on your team?
I'm sorry, but I'd rather discuss whether Hanley Ramirez is a human pinball machine that will help my fantasy team. Is that okay?
And is Hanley Ramirez a winning player or merely a human pinball machine that puts up big numbers in this fantasy-driven age of professional sports?
Actually, I think he's a pinball wizard, which incidentally makes him great for my fantasy team of rock icons (I drafted Led Zeppelin early on, and am in Heaven at the moment, with Morgan Freeman, no less). But I think there's a false dichotomy here between a 'winning player' and a great player. A winning player could be a scrub who plays on a team that happens to win (ex. Alex Cora on 2007 Red Sox). A great player actually CONTRIBUTES to his team's victory by, yes, putting up big numbers. Anyone who'd rather have a 'winning player' than a great player is probably a sportswriter.
Even those of us who usually put talent above all else can’t be so sure in this case, particularly when Ramirez seems to go against everything that Theo Epstein has preached during his tenure as general manager of the Red Sox.
Yeah, things like On-Base-Percentage (career .386), or WAR (7.2 last year), or value (his production was worth an estimated $32.5 million last year, salary only $5.5 million). Very un-Theo-like, if you ask me. Not that it matters, because the Marlins have made it clear that he's not available for less a package of our very best prospects / young players.
I'd say that's the biggest problem with Hanley coming to Boston, not his ego or character: he's just too costly to acquire.
Here’s the problem: Ramirez is also a colossal pain in the pillows whose immaturity is downright exhausting.
Allow me to issue a correction: per Mazz, the biggest problem is that Hanley so immature he puts Mazz to sleep. Though apparently he's not soporific enough to keep Mazz from writing a long column about him, when nobody is seriously discussing a Hanley Ramirez trade.
With all these problems, I guess Mazz doesn't want Hanley to come to Boston, ever.
Because of that, people like yours truly would eagerly bring someone like Hanley to Boston.
Wait, WHAT? Mazz, you laid into him for a whole column, questioned his character and fit on the Red Sox, even called him 'exhausting,' and then you want him here?
But here’s the question:
Yes! ... Oh, now I get it, Mazz. Because he seems like Manny, and you lost your favorite whipping-boy, you want Hanley to come to Boston. Then you can write more lazy pieces like this. And I can mock them. And the Sox can win some more World Series. Everyone wins!
Hear that, Theo? That's the roaring groundswell for Hanley Ramirez. Make it happen - for Massarrotti's sake, if not for ours.
Other Takes / Links:
Fangraphs' Jack Moore writes about the folly of benching the best player on a team.
Hanley Ramirez has his own website.
* How'm I doing Randy, did I get this up in time?
^ To book me for book readings, speaking engagements, promotional appearances, commencement speeches, birthday parties and Bar / Bat Mitzvahs, please contact my agent, Mr. Randy Booth, at email@example.com.
~ This is funny: How Se7en should have ended.
` I'm trying to get Randy to ditch that chick Taylor Swift, as Gwynneth is much more demure and classy. Also, my bro Kanye would approve.