What has gone unsaid throughout the entire Hanley Ramirez saga is the ever-thickening layer of distrust between American major leaguers and Hispanic major leaguers. It’s not thick, like a piece of paper. It’s thick, like a brick wall.
There are obviously many exceptions here. But an enormous number of American major league players believe their Hispanic teammates to be, by comparison, lazy and indifferent. They view them as merely happy to be here; and all-too-willing to half-ass plays (as Hanley did) at oft-crucial times.
Anyone surprised by this shouldn’t be. The Majors are an extremely sheltered, narrow world. Most of the white American players have been raised strictly among other white Americans. They don’t get the loudness and laughter of their Hispanic peers; don’t show any interest in dominoes or other games and endeavors that are popular in the Latin American countries. The classic example for this came three years ago, when the New York Mets were an absolute mess, and Billy Wagner actually called out some of his Hispanic teammates for ducking their responsibilites with the media after games. Wagner was far from alone in his opinions—he was just dumb (or brave?) enough to say it. Factually, a large number of white ballplayers find their Hispanic teammates to be annoying, grating dogs.
So do I agree? Absolutely not. I love Spanish as a language; love the flavors of the culture (and the zestiness of the food). As for Spanish-speaking players being dogs, well, it’s ludicrous. Look at the Yankees. Is Mariano a dog? Jorge Posada? Robinson Cano? How about some of the all-time greats? Tony Oliva? Roberto Clemente? Juan Marichal? The perception exists because of ignorance, not reality.
But, I assure you, right now in the Florida Marlins clubhouse there are players chalking up Ramirez’s inexcusable behavior not to personal flaws, but to cultural inadequacies.
PS: Personally speaking, Hanley Ramirez is my least-favorite type of professional athlete, and it has zero to do with ethnicity. He is an arrogant, dismissive punk who seems to believe his (extremely fleeting) status as a baseball star allows him to treat others like dirt.