Big League Stew - MLB

Short of shaving points or tanking a game outright, the worst thing a professional athlete can do is fail or refuse to give his or her best effort.

Hanley Ramirez(notes), the defending National League batting champion and a two-time All-Star, did not appear to give his best effort against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night.

And that's the opinion of Ramirez's own manager, Fredi Gonzalez, who benched his star shortstop in the middle of a game for not hustling after a ball he booted in short left field.

You know what that makes Hanley? A lollygagger.

Watch the unbelievable play unfold on Yahoo! Sports Minute

Here's what happened: In the second inning, Ramirez misplayed Tony Abreu's(notes) blooper that fell in short left field. After a weak attempt to pick up the ball by swiping at it with his glove, Ramirez accidentally kicked the ball away — down the line, into foul territory, almost to the corner. Heck, if there wasn't a grandstand in the way, maybe Ramirez kicks the ball into the Gulf of Mexico.

Comical, sure. But what made the moment unforgivable was that Ramirez did not sprint after the ball. He didn't sprint, he didn't do anything that resembled running. He jogged. No, that's too fast. He trotted. He dawdled. He loafed. He dogged it.

In the first inning, Ramirez had fouled a pitch from Edwin Jackson(notes) off his left shin and was attended to by a trainer. In the photo below, you can see the trainer checking Hanley's shin. Seconds later, they also looked in vain for a heart.

Gonzalez wasn't buying the shin as a factor. After having a brief but animated word with Ramirez in the dugout, Gonzalez told him he wouldn't be needed for the rest of the game.

"Hanley left the game because we felt — he got smoked in the ankle — but we felt whether he was hurt or not hurt or whatever it was, we felt that the effort wasn't there that we wanted," Gonzalez said.

How often has a manager ever come out and said that?

We should expect better from any major leaguer, much less someone in the second year of a $70 million contract. Even if you don't root for the Marlins, watching Ramirez mosey toward the ball should make you scream, "Run! Go get it!"

Gonzalez said he's not sure if Ramirez will be in the lineup Tuesday. Why should he give any guarantees?

"There's 24 guys out there thatare busting their butts," Gonzalez said. "Cody Ross(notes) got hit with a ball 95 mph ... and he stayed in the game making diving plays and battling,got two hits and an RBI. There are some injuries there, but we expect an effort from 25 guys onthis team and when that doesn’t happen, we have got to do something."

Oh, Fredi's not done.

"You guys call him a marquee guy," Gonzalez said. "I got 25 guys allwearing the same uniform with all of the same Marlins insignia on the front andI think it's disappointing if anybody did it, not just one guy."

Making matters worse is that Ramirez didn't speak to reporters on Monday night, but showed up bright and early on Tuesday morning ready to dig himself a deeper hole. He said he wasn't planning on apologizing to his teammates — even though Wes Helms(notes) said the Marlins clubhouse was expecting a mea culpa — and that he's not the only Marlin who has loafed this season. He also took specific aim at Gonzalez, who he has rarely, if ever, gotten along with.

On Gonzalez: "It's his team He does whatever he (expetive) wants," Ramirez said. "There's nothing I can do about it. It's brutal."

Asked about his ankle, he said: "That's OK. He doesn't understand that. He never played in the big leagues."

Check out the whole transcript over at the Palm Beach Post. It's pretty incredible stuff.

Look, I always cut a guy a break if he's hurt. But Ramirez wasn't limping or hobbling after the ball; he was just shuffling. This wasn't Lastings Milledge(notes) not paying attention on a fly ball he thought was a homer. This wasn't Jim Edmonds(notes) cutting his route just right so he had to dive for a ball in the gap and show off.

This was among the laziest things I've ever seen on a baseball field. This is why they invented the word "boo."

If I'm the Chicago Cubs, I would have been terrified at the sight of rookie Starlin Castro(notes) conversing with Hanley — the kid's hero — this past week. No, no, no. You, you, you get away. Shoo!

Despite winning two World Series titles since 1997 and being semi-competitive in recent seasons, the Marlins cannot get anyone to come to watch them. Yet, somehow they persuaded politicians in Florida to build them a new stadium with a guy like Hanley Ramirez as the team's centerpiece.

What an embarrassment to the team after it placed so much faith in him. Maybe the Marlins should encourage Hanley to hop aboard with New Zealand's national cricket team, which happened to stop by the park for some pregame hijinks on Monday night.

Not that New Zealand would have Hanley right now.

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