The National League’s batting champion from last year, Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins, got his fine self yanked from a game last night against the Arizona Diamondbacks for loafing after a ball that he had unceremoniously kicked into the left field corner, allowing two runs to score.
I gotta tell you, I almost fainted when I heard the news. For years it seems, ballplayers of virtually every description have been loafing (maybe I should say loping) after balls they have misplayed and nobody ever seemed to mind one bit … except me.
You’ve seen the play; it happens probably several times a month, maybe more than that. A misjudged fly sails over a guy’s head, or an outfielder simply botches a can of corn that snakes off to the far reaches of the stadium, and the embarrassed millionaire sort of defiantly jogs after it, as if to say, “OK, there’s a certain amount of urgency here, but let’s not get carried away, since I am, after all, a millionaire.”
That’s bad enough, but the fact that the television announcers never call them on it is what really frosts my grommet. It’s as though everyone concedes that just botching the play was embarrassment enough; no further need to take note of the largely indifferent scramble to retrieve the ball and minimize the damage.
I say, Phooey! Just think how flagrantly Ramierez must have abused this wretched professional courtesy to have managed to get his manager so irked that he pulled his star player from the game. I could probably be sympathetic were he to complain that, “Gee, guys have been doing this for years and nobody picked on them.”
I guess this has its roots in a high school baseball game probably 45 years ago, when a skinny left fielder with glasses lost a towering fly ball (never actually saw it, in fact) and had to endure the humiliation of anguished teammates and fans screaming for him to remove his head from an awkward orifice and pursue the ole horsehide.
He, too, was quite rudely pulled from the game, in this instance in the middle of the inning, forced to slink into the dugout as dozens of fans not-so-politely urged him to remove himself even more profoundly, perhaps to a different Zip Code (started only two years earlier).
But at least he hustled after the damn ball when he heard it thump on the ground 100 feet behind him.