Fri Mar 27 01:26pm EDT
It's funny. Before this morning, I assumed everyone in the Marlins' organization was only operating under two main rules:
1. Make sure everything goes right with the newly-approved stadium in Miami.
2. Do NOT, under any circumstances, anger star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, the team's only real long-term investment.
Turns out I was wrong on that second account, because the franchise's golden calf has been disturbed and the Miami media believes his .091 average this spring may be a reflection of his mood.
What's the beef? Well, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez recently forced all of his long-haired players, including Ramirez, into an impromptu date with the clubhouse hairdresser. He also banned any jewelry worn onfield by Ramirez or any of his teammates.
"We want to look professional," Gonzalez told the Sun-Sentinel. "Nice and neat."
Only problem was that Ramirez, ranked first overall in Yahoo!'s fantasy baseball game, didn't take kindly to having his shortish dreads shorn off or his chain yanked off his neck. Once the media entered the Marlins' clubhouse on Thursday, Ramirez made sure he was seen sporting a strong message — "I'm sick of this ****" — written in Sharpie across his chest.
"I'm angry," he told reporters. "I want to be traded ... It's incredible. We're big leaguers."
Ramirez was said to have later calmed down after meeting with team president David Samson and general manager Larry Beinfest, but you have to wonder why Gonzalez decided to upset Ramirez in the first place. Sure, Gonzalez is known for running a tight ship — he once offered to buy his players iPods so he could quiet the clubhouse stereo — and Ramirez didn't exactly handle his counterprotest in the best manner.
But what's with Gonzalez's Steinbrenneresque thirst for a close crop? It's not like Ramirez's hair was even that long. The above picture was taken on Feb. 27 and it looks like he still means business. It looks like a normal haircut for someone who is 25 years old.
But, really, here's the bottom line: Considering the numbers Ramirez put up in '08 — 33 homers and 34 doubles with a .400 OBP — there are 29 other MLB managers who would love to have Ramirez, even if he showed up to camp looking like Larry Fitzgerald or Oscar Gamble.
Gonzalez should be no different.