â†µThe MLB.com headline reads "Hanley benched for lack of hustle," and if you click through to watch the video, that headline is a complete understatement. Ramirez, who had previously fouled a ball off his leg in his first at-bat, was unable to catch a flare that landed in shallow left field in the top of the second. Could he have caught the ball? Probably. But what happened after the ball hit the ground is what's causing all the fervor today. â†µ
â†µWatch the play here. â†µâ†µ
â†µRamirez inadvertently kicked the ball down the left field line, and rather than sprinting after the ball – there were two men on base with no outs at the time – he jogged. Heck, I'm not even sure you can call what Ramirez did jogging. He sauntered. He lollygagged. Whatever he did do, the one thing that's for sure is that he didn't hustle. â†µâ†µ
â†µMarlins manager Fredi Gonzalez pulled Ramirez after that inning, in which the Diamondbacks scored three runs, and replaced him with Brian Barden. After the game, Gonzalez spoke to reporters (video): â†µâ†µ
â†µâ‡¥"I told [Ramirez] that he needed to go inside," Gonzalez said. "We're going to run Barden out there, who has a sprained ankle, by the way. He battled for eight innings with a sprained ankle. Probably killing him. But that's the effort we're looking at as an organization, as a team. That's that." â†µâ‡¥â†µGonzalez was adamant that Ramirez is no different than any other player on the team and that he's expected to hustle like the other 24 players out there, some of whom have their own injuries as well. It was not surprising that Gonzalez pulled Ramirez after the inning, as to not embarrass the player in the middle of a frame, yet the manager had no problem taking time to completely undress his top player to the press after the game. In fact, when asked if there would be further disciplinary action, Gonzalez replied, "More embarrassment than being taken out of a Major League game? We'll see."
â†µâ‡¥Gonzalez praised the effort of Cody Ross, who was struck on the knee by a Jackson fastball, and he played on. Ross made a diving grab in right field to rob Stephen Drew in the fifth inning. â†µâ‡¥â†µâ‡¥
â†µâ‡¥"Cody Ross got hit with a ball, 95 mph," Gonzalez said. "It wasn't thrown any less. He stayed in the game, and he's making diving plays and dialing. There are some injuries there." â†µâ‡¥â†µ
â†µRamirez told reporters this morning, per Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post, that he has nothing to say and won't apologize: â†µ
â†µâ‡¥Hanley won't apologize. Says he lost some respect for Fredi. â†µâ†µThat lack of respect probably goes both ways right now.
â†µRob Iracane at Walkoff Walk wrote a post earlier this month that started out as a hypothesis and turned into a mission statement about the apparent racism when the term "lack of hustle" is used in a story. Iracane referenced the example of Brandon Phillips staring down what he thought was a home run ball when it turned into a long-fly double after hitting the wall. Some contended Phillips should have been on third and his lack of "hustle" cost the Reds a chance to win. Iracane used that as a launching point: â†µâ†µ
â†µâ‡¥That story led me to posit this: when we read about players who display a "lack of hustle", chances are that player is a minority. This is just a hypothesis, though, and I need some hard evidence to back it up. â†µâ‡¥â†µThat one was David Wright, on some obscure fantasy site. Iracane's search did not produce Shane Victorino (that omission was noted in their comments as well) who was chided by his manager, Charlie Manuel, for a lack of hustle a few weeks ago. That story, both in print and on radio, clearly indicated a lack of hustle, though perhaps the actual term wasn't used. Semantics, I suppose. â†µ
â†µâ‡¥Here, then, is an incomplete list of black or Latino players whose names show up in game stories, op-ed columns, and assorted player quotes when one searches Google for the phrase "lack of hustle" and the word "baseball" (takes deep breath): â†µâ‡¥â†µâ‡¥
â†µâ‡¥Elijah Dukes, Julio Lugo, B.J. Upton, Jose Reyes, Alfonso Soriano, Robinson Cano, Jimmy Rollins, Benito Santiago, Willy Taveras, Matt Kemp, Milton Bradley, Derek Bell, Albert Belle, Fernando Martinez, Alex Rios, David Ortiz, Miguel Tejada, Edwin Encarnacion, Eddie Murray, Manny Ramirez, and Andruw Jones. â†µâ‡¥â†µâ‡¥
â†µâ‡¥That's a whopping twenty-one different minority players, most of recent vintage, and all were called out for an apparent "lack of hustle". I could go on, but B.J. Upton's name showed up so many times I began to feel bad for him. â†µâ‡¥â†µâ‡¥
â†µâ‡¥So, how many white players showed up in the search results? One. That's it, just one. â†µâ‡¥â†µ
â†µIracane ends his post with the following: "I say we do away with evaluating players based on something so unmeasurable and irrelevant as 'hustle. Instead, let us look at ability, and character, and something we don't see on the playing field during game day: work ethic. Let us shed forever the phrase "lack of hustle" when talking about any player, regardless of race. It's pointless." â†µâ†µ
â†µUntil you see something as egregious as what Ramirez did, of course. Maybe Iracane was right and there has been a bit of profiling associated with the term lack of hustle in the past. Now, thanks to Ramirez, we all have an example we can agree upon. So let's compare everything in the future to this, because it's about as bad as it gets. â†µâ†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.