Long-time player Jeff Conine works as a special assistant for the Florida Marlins. It's an appropriate gig for a guy known as Mr. Marlin in those parts. Last weekend, Conine went on an area radio show, and when the subject of Hanley Ramirez came up, Conine was a little critical. Conine said that he regularly found himself frustrated with Ramirez, accused the shortstop of not always trying his hardest, and admitted that, were he in charge, he'd think about trading Ramirez.
Ramirez took his time, but on Wednesday, he fired back. Some quotes:
"I think he wants to be Mr. Marlin forever," Ramirez said..."It won't happen. I'm coming, baby. I think I'm going to be Mr. Marlin. That's my goal now. I wasn't thinking about that (before Conine's comments)."
"If he's got a problem, just come over and talk to me like a man," Ramirez said. "Don't be a chicken, talking on the (radio), because whatever you say is going to stay out there."
Asked if gets along with Conine, who is a special assistant to Marlins president David Samson, Ramirez replied: "I used to, yeah."
As for Conine, Ramirez said: "I'm still playing. I'm in the game. Where is he? I'm just happy to be in the game. I don't care what other people say."
It's a bizarre story coming out of an organization that seems to generate more bizarre stories than regular ones. A collection of thoughts on the matter:
(1) Firstly, and most importantly, Ramirez is right. Not about everything, but about one thing - Conine should not have been so candid on the radio. Conine is an employee of the team, and he volunteered criticism of another. It doesn't matter whether Conine was pressed on the issue. It doesn't matter whether Conine was speaking the truth. That just isn't how things ought to be done. Internal affairs should remain internal affairs, and while that makes for less interesting interviews, it makes for a happier and more functional organization.
(2) That last quote is weird. "I'm in the game. Where is he?" Hanley Ramirez is 27 years old. Jeff Conine is 45. What point is this trying to prove? Conine actually played until he was 41. He played in 101 games that season. That's amazing! As for "I don't care what other people say," that would've been a lot more believable were it not for everything else, which strongly suggested that Ramirez very much cares what other people say.
(3) "I used to." So sensitive! So middle school.
(4) Hanley Ramirez didn't care about being Mr. Marlin before. Now that the current Mr. Marlin has been openly critical, it's on. Hanley Ramirez cares so much about becoming the new Mr. Marlin that he didn't think about becoming the new Mr. Marlin until his sixth year with the organization.
(5) A big reason why Jeff Conine is referred to as Mr. Marlin is because he was and is popular with the fan base. Hanley Ramirez's strategy for becoming the new Mr. Marlin involves acting antagonistic to the old one. This is going to go over well, because if there's one thing Hanley Ramirez has earned, it's unconditional support and respect.
(6) Mr. Marlin might be the lamest title in baseball to fight over. It is so lame that Hanley Ramirez is fighting over it with Jeff Conine, who spent more than half his playing career not with the Marlins.
(7) Jeff Conine's middle name is Guy, which is perfect for him.
(8) After reading these quotes, I think I understand why Conine opened up on the radio instead of confronting Ramirez face-to-face in private, because talking to Ramirez seems awful.