Should that fail, they bring in the big guns.
In the case of the Florida Marlins and Hanley Ramirez, that means Andre Dawson and Tony Perez, both of whom serve as special assistants to the club.
According to the Miami Herald, Dawson, an eight-time All Star and the NL MVP in 1987, began by telling Ramirez that “it’s time to get your act together,” calling him “immature” and adding that the player owes his teammates an apology.”
Perez, a Hall of Famer, followed with a similar message, this time in Spanish.
In the clubhouse before the team’s game in St. Louis, Ramirez circulated among the players and offered apologies both for the play that got him into hot water in the first place, and his follow-up comments, which were less than kind to both teammates and manager Fredi Gonzalez.
In this case, an apology—about which Wes Helms said in the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, “He felt bad and you could tell”—is not so different than a retaliatory fastball. The latter is a tool used to settle an on-field score, allowing both teams to close the book on a bad situation and move forward, fresh. The former is its verbal equivalent, albeit from a conciliatory perspective.
For an example of what can happen should an apology fail to arrive after such a situation, look back to the Yankees in 1977, when Reggie Jackson announced his arrival in New York by proclaiming in Sport magazine that “I’m the straw that stirs the drink,” and that team captain Thurman Munson “can only stir it bad.”
“I don’t think some of the guys have forgiven him for that to this day,” wrote reliever Sparky Lyle in The Bronx Zoo. “Why did he have to do it? . . . If he had kept his mouth shut, he could have done everything he had wanted to do. . . . When he tried to nail Thurman, that was going too far.”
Jackson never apologized—not publicly, anyway—and it ended up costing him in myriad ways. “It was every moment of every day,” he told Sports Illustrated in 1980. “It was a coldness in the clubhouse, a coldness on the field, a coldness from the stands. Every day. Every day. I don’t want it on my mind; I don’t want those scars.”
With a single step, Ramirez was able to avoid all that.
“It means a lot to do what he did, because now we can lay it down,” said Helms. “That’s always going to be on your mind unless it’s taken care of. He did the right thing.”