Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Manny Ramirez's Return and the Displaced Outfielder

Lost in all of this Manny Ramirez hoopla is the sad tale of the displaced outfielder. The guy who has worked his butt off for the last 50 games, not complaining, trying to let his play on the field do the talking for him.

Sure, he may not have the star wattage of Ramirez, but shouldn't his dedication to the team and obeying the rules of the sport count for something? Shouldn't his persistence in the lineup be valued? Shouldn't the fact that he hasn't been sitting at home for the last 50 games merit more than a quick brush aside, out of left field?

Thus is the woeful tale of Luis Maza.

Maza, who was holding his own starting in left field with a .267 average, went 3-for-4 on June 21. Manny Ramirez' addition to the lineup last night unceremoniously shifted Maza to 3B, where he managed only one hit all night.

Ramirez shows up, and Maza has to move out of the way. No "thank you" from the Isotopes, unless it's a "thank you for playing, now move." And Maza isn't taking this lying down.

"What does he have that I don't," said Maza, "besides Hall-of-Fame credentials, a lifetime batting average nearly 100 points better, and almost 2100 more games of experience? Does that mean I have to move over, just for him?"

Maza continued, "You want dreadlocks from your left fielder? I can grow dreadlocks. Hell, I can put on a wig today. But once you get past the hair, you've gotta ask yourself, does this guy have what it takes to be an Isotope?"

Maza's words resonate. My guess is that Ramirez will be over and done by the weekend, and that Ramirez won't even be invited to join the team on the bus to play at Omaha. But for now, Maza is being moved over for a fly-by-night Isotope.

Where is the justice?