Hanley Ramirez and the Florida Marlins: A Debacle in the Making

Kyle W. BrownContributor IIMay 18, 2010

WASHINGTON - MAY 07:  Hanley Ramirez #2 of the Florida Marlins throws the ball to first base during the game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on May 7, 2010 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The Marlins are playing without Hanley Ramirez, the face of their franchise, this afternoon. The reason for his not playing is unclear; whether he is injured or whether the decision was made by manager Fredi Gonzalez.

Ramirez was benched during Monday's game after booting a ball into left field and then nonchalantly chasing it down; allowing two runners to score and enabling batter Tony Abreu to reach third.

Following the inning, Gonzalez sat Ramirez down to speak to him and then benched him for the remainder of the game.

Ramirez was upset about being benched, stating that he had been injured in the first inning following his fouling a ball off of his left leg.

Speaking to reporters following the game, Gonzalez spoke out on the issue.

"Whether he was hurt or not, we felt that the effort wasn't there," Gonzalez told reporters following Monday's game. "There are twenty-five guys who are busting their butts. There are some injuries there, but we expect an effort from twenty-five guys on this team and when that doesn't happen, we have to do something."

Also following the game, Gonzalez reportedly asked Hanley to apologize to his teammates for his lack of play. Ramirez refused to do so, saying that he was injured and was playing his hardest.

Regardless, Gonzalez feels that Ramirez's lack of effort was enough to have him benched today, which Hanley was unhappy about.

"It's his team, he can do whatever he ****ing wants," Ramirez said to reporters. "We've got a lot of guys dogging it on ground balls. They don't apologize."

He went on to fire a direct shot into his manager's heart, saying of his removal in Monday's game, "That's ok. He doesn't understand that. He never played in the big leagues."

The battle between Ramirez and Gonzalez has clearly taken on an ugly face, with fans turning sour on Ramirez for both his actions and his speaking out on the topic.

One Sun-Sentinel article compared the instance to a similar one by Jimmy Rollins in 2008, when Rollins didn't run out a fly ball that landed. Following Rollins' mishap and lack of effort, he was very apologetic and seemed genuinely sorry.

"It's my fault," Rollins said to reports on being pulled from that game. "That's like breaking the law and getting mad when the police show up."

After he was benched, Rollins remained on the bench and cheered on his teammates, taking the role as a supporter for the end of the game.

"We're a team, I'm not going to be a distraction that way," Rollins told reporters on his remaining on the bench. "I did what I did, ok, but I still have to pull for my team. It's not their fault. They shouldn't have to worry about that being a distraction."

Apparently, Ramirez doesn't feel the same way, as he is very much making it a distraction and calling out other players on the team

Gonzalez stuck up for his players and compared Hanley's injury to that of Cody Ross, who was hit with a fastball in the game.

Gonzalez said to reporters, "[Ross] got hit with a ball at 95 mph, it wasn't hit or thrown any slower and he stayed in the game making diving plays and battling, got two hits and an RBI."

The future of this debate is unknown, but the near future in the Marlins clubhouse looks ugly. Fans disappointed with their All-Star player, the media having headlines like "Why Can't Hanley Ramirez Be More Like Jimmy Rollins," and a star player criticizing the talent and hustle of his teammates.

Ramirez has since (somewhat, maybe) tried to downplay his criticism of teammates, saying to reporters, "I respect everybody, but I don't know if I get the same respect back."

Asked when fans can expect to see Ramirez back in the lineup, Gonzalez stated that he did not yet know.

"I think he needs to talk to his teammates a little bit," Gonzalez said to reporters. "Whatever feelings he has for me are fine and dandy. We don't have to get along, but I think he needs to get along with the other 24 guys on his team and when that happens, we'll run him back out there. If he sets his ego aside, I think he'll be good."

Well, battle lines have definitely been drawn in Florida. Many questions are already being drawn up, such as if someone has to go, will it be Hanley or Gonzalez? What do his teammates think about being called out? Who are the fans siding with?

So far this season, Ramirez, the 2006 NL Rookie of the Year and two-time All-Star, is batting .293 with seven homers and 20 RBI through 39 games.