In one incident, Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was caught admiring his own hit against the Yankees on Tuesday. When the ball didn’t leave the yard, he ended up being thrown out at second base, drawing criticism for not hustling out of the batter’s box.
In a far different story, Florida Marlins star Hanley Ramirez booted a ball on Monday, and was slow to chase it down. Two runs scored on the play, and Ramirez was not only pulled from the game, but was benched the following day as well after he ripped his manager and teammates.
In both instances, players were accused of dogging it. But these are entirely different circumstances. Let’s examine the differences.
Don't stop and watch
In Ortiz’s case, he was guilty of failing to hustle out of the box. This is not a good thing, but there is a fine line — and an important distinction — between failing to hustle and dogging it.
Ortiz simply made a mistake, misjudging his own fly ball. He thought the ball was gone and he took awhile to get going. He’s not the quickest guy on Earth anyway, and you can tell by the way he runs that he’s hurting. That stuff just happens. I know David Ortiz, and he’s not a dog in any way, shape or form.
Was it wrong? Yes. But I’ve seen it happen many times, even to great players. Barry Bonds did it all the time, and I even saw Harmon Killebrew do it once. So I think we can cut Papi some slack.
Give it your all
The Hanley Ramirez situation was different, as he failed to hurry after a ball he kicked into the outfield.
But there might be some wiggle room in his case as well. Ramirez had fouled a ball off his shin earlier in the game and may have been hurting.
Ramirez took positive steps Wednesday as Ramirez and manager Fredi Gonzalez cleared the air.
Some might ask: “Well if he was hurt, why was he in the game?” But players want to be tough and play through their injuries, and most guys do. You’re always going to have aches and pains, especially the everyday players. What is 100 percent? It’s all relative. No one is really ever in perfect condition. In fact, I heard a saying that goes “if you’re 80 percent, you have to give 100 percent of your 80.”
Whether Ramirez was hurt or not is up for question. Was he hustling, but unable to go hard because of an injury, or was he completely dogging it? Only he truly knows the answer to that, but it seems as though the team thought he was dogging it, and so manager Fredi Gonzalez benched him.
It’s possible there was more going on behind the scenes than we know, but it seems unlikely to me that this happened over just one incident. It could be that Gonzalez noticed a pattern in his young star and thought he needed to put a stop to it.
These players contribute in ways big and small
It’s also possible that there was something bigger going on in the Marlins clubhouse. Perhaps other guys were dogging it, too, and Gonzalez decided to send a message. After all, if he’ll bench his star, he’ll bench anybody.
Ramirez seemed to hint at that himself when he said he didn’t see why he should apologize: “We got a lot of people dogging it after ground balls,” he said. “They don’t apologize.”
The big mistake with this whole incident is that the argument came out from behind closed doors and into the press.
In fact, I think it is far worse that Ramirez ripped his manager and teammates in the media than the fact he dogged it. That is a poor way to respond to his benching. Ramirez said that Gonzalez didn’t understand how hard it is to play in the big leagues because he never played on that level, essentially questioning his credibility.
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