My shot at the big leagues

I could play shortstop for the Florida Marlins.

No, really I could.

I would probably make at least a couple of throws to within
30 feet of first base before my arm exploded. I could lean with aplomb on the
dugout railing while my teammates were at the plate, and when I batted I
wouldn’t ground into a double play, if only because I would be incapable of
making any contact with the ball. Crucially, I would give a far better
impression of having a pulse than the current incumbent, Hanley Ramirez.

The All-Star shortstop is currently suspended from his team
for showing…um… less than 100% effort during Monday’s game against the Arizona
Diamondbacks.

With the Diamondbacks at the plate nursing a 1-0 lead, there
were runners on first and second. Pitcher Volstad induced a pop fly and Ramirez
ran back into shallow center field to make the catch but could not reach the
ball. His languid swipe then missed the bouncing ball, which he inadvertently
kicked another 30 metres to the fence, far down the third base line in left
field.

Ramirez then looked round to see the baserunners sprinting
home, and slowly trotted after the ball – far slower than the speed he initially
showed trying to catch the ball. By the time he reached it, the second runner
was already almost at home plate as Ramirez then weakly through the ball into
no-man’s land, somewhere between third base and the pitcher’s mound. His
catcher just stared at him, hands on hips.

Ramirez complained that his leg was hurting after fouling a
ball off it in the previous inning, which was also his explanation for not
running at full effort to first base when he grounded into a double-play later
in that at-bat.

Maybe Ramirez had been distracted while in the field,
contemplating suing his employers for workplace injury, or for reckless
endangerment. There’s got to be something in the law that protects you against
having solid objects thrown a foot in front of your body at 90+ miles an hour,
right? And besides, having hurt himself, could he really be expected to
do…well, anything?

New+York+Mets+v+Florida+Marlins+FsqEBZemGEhl.jpg

After the misplay in the field and between innings, Marlins
manager Fredi Gonzalez sent Ramirez back into the clubhouse, removing him from
the rest of the game as punishment for his lack of effort.

Ramirez – in the third year of a six-year, $70million
contract, is not the only star to be yanked from a game for lack of hustle. Last
year, Gold Glove shortstop Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies didn’t see fit to bust
a gut running down the first base line during a routine groundout, and manager
Charlie Manuel kept him out of the following day’s game as punishment. Rollins’
response? A public show of remorse, an apology and an affirmation that his
manager had every moral right to respond in the way he did. All was forgiven
and quickly forgotten and everyone moved on, with Rollins’ reputation as a
high-energy character guy intact, possibly even enhanced.

Ramirez? Not so much.

Instead, he called out his manager: “He
doesn’t understand…He never played in the big leagues”.

And his teammates: “We got a lot of people dogging it after ground balls. They don’t
apologize”, whilst also claiming to have been going as fast as he could…

In fairness to the rest of the Marlins, you
would need hours immersed in YouTube to find a clip of a fielder showing less
interest in the ball than Ramirez did on that play. I once had a beer league
softball teammate show less effort, but he was 30 lbs overweight, badly hungover,
and twice Ramirez’s age.

But maybe those statements show that
Ramirez has a good legal case against his employers. According to Friedman,
Rodman & Frank, a law firm local to the Marlins, “A personal injury is one in which
the negligence or the irresponsible behavior of another causes you to suffer
serious physical disability, mental impairment or financial harm”.

Ramirez is
one of the least physically impaired people alive and suffers from the opposite
of financial harm. However, after being irresponsibly struck on the shin by the
ball, Ramirez became mentally impaired and was not responsible for his (in)actions
on the field or for throwing his colleagues under the bus afterwards.

And while
Hanley and the Marlins lawyer up, I am right here waiting by my phone for the
call that says I am the Marlins’ new shortstop.

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