[Every day, stories spread throughout the sports world of another athlete or coach or team involving themselves in situations that inevitably need some PR spin. Regardless of the severity of these issues, our very own Dr. Aaron Perlut will be there to analyze the situation and offer up some free professional advice. Because if there is anything comparable to Dr. Aaron's knowledge of mustaches, it's his knowledge of public relations ]
Did you pay attention to the the flap in the Florida Marlins clubhouse between defending National league batting champion Hanley Ramirez and Manager Fredi Gonzalez? This is the same Fredi who reportedly dots the “i” on the end of his first name with a heart.
In case you’ve been on a Mickey’s Big Mouth bender and missed it: during Monday night’s game against Arizona, while trying to field a bloop hit, Ramirez booted the ball into the left field corner. He then jogged after the ball at a less-than robust pace, allowing two runners to score.
Citing Ramirez’s lack of hustle, Gonzalez benched his all-star shortstop for Tuesday’s game, and the player called out his manager.
“He can do whatever,” Ramirez said. “There’s nothing I can do about it … He doesn’t understand that. He never played in the big leagues.”
And then he was kind enough to bring his teammates into it.
“We got a lot of people dogging it after ground balls,” referring to the Marlins who are vying for first place with in the NL East—“They don’t apologize.”
Nice. Maybe Marlins stud pitcher Josh Johnson offered Ramirez a nice cup of Sanka in the clubhouse after that one.
Here’s the doctor’s PR rub.
Coaches and players get under each others’ skin on a regular basis. It’s part of the yin-and-yang of sports at any level, and most of it, surprisingly, stays behind closed doors.
In this case, Ramirez had fouled a ball off his left shin in the first inning. And according to Softball Guy , this feels something akin to having all of your pubic, nose, and eyebrow hairs simultaneously ripped off while a silver backed gorilla whips your back with a dense rubber hose. So clearly, Ramirez was hobbling from the shin-shot when he booted the ball and it inhibited his ability to run after it at full-speed.
With that in mind, how should Ramirez have handled it? Do you throw both your manager and teammates under the bus and then move on? Not if you want to stay in the good graces of your organization and the 12.7 Marlins fans who actually attend home games on a regular basis.
As this situation was unfolding, I was thinking about what a professional would say—someone in the mold of a Mike Schmidt, Tony Gwynn, Albert Pujols, Crash Davis, or Mr. T—and it would sound something like this:
“I know I took that hard ball off my shin, but I feel like I let my team down today. I’ll talk to Fredi about it, but I’m more concerned about the two runs that scored and am sorry my injury couldn’t allow me to run full speed after that ball. I just hope I can get back to 100 percent so I can field the ball to the level at which I’ve become accustomed.”
Boom! You demonstrate remorse, suggest the injury played a role in your lackadaisical effort, put the focus back on the team’s ability to win and your role in that effort, and bridge to the future.
The bottom line is that sometimes you have to swallow the bitter pill of pride. It’s part of every day life. From telling your wife Yolanda that she’s right when you really want to lay down a karate chop, to supporting your boss Tim at work, even when he or she may not be right.
It just takes a little maturity, Hanley.
In the end, late yesterday, it was clear that someone (probably his agent) got to Ramirez and talked some sense into him, because the ordeal ended with the player apologizing as he stood 12-feet-deep in the hole he had dug himself.
“I’m sorry that all this got so ugly. My intent was not to cause a distraction,” Ramirez told ESPNdeportes.com in a phone interview from St. Louis. “I’m sorry that things got this heated. The team, the fans don’t deserve it. We are all professionals here and we’re pulling for the same side. I’ll try to close this chapter and focus on playing baseball,” Ramirez added.
It was about time.