by Garret Kramer
By now, most of us interested in the sports world have seen the video of Florida Marlin Hanley Ramirez, loafing after a ball that he had inadvertently kicked the other night, and we have formed an opinion on the incident and its ensuing events. What I have heard from most baseball folks is that manager Fredi Gonzalez was right to bench Ramirez, for he must convey the lesson that a lack of effort will not be tolerated. Gonzalez even stated- “… a player can’t necessarily control how things turn out, but he can always control his effort.”
When a coach holds players accountable for exerting effort, they commonly manifest the opposite effect.
Well, I hate to disagree but Gonzalez is absolutely incorrect in his analysis. Oh, don’t get me wrong I believe benching Ramirez was the right move. However, holding a player accountable for his behavior (hustle) and asking him to control it, will never help him grow as an individual or as an athlete. Believe me, Hanley Ramirez doesn’t want to be lazy, and in judging his antics all Gonzalez is doing is feeding into the errant thinking that caused this whole mess in the first place.
Let me explain: quite simply, no athlete (or anyone for that matter) likes to be told what to do. When a coach dictates or preaches, players become angry and resistant, and negative behavior is reinforced. That is, Gonzalez is correct in looking for effort from his team, yet in holding players accountable for always exerting it or controlling it, coaches like Gonzalez commonly manifest the opposite effect.
When a player is held accountable for the understanding that external circumstances can’t regulate his passion or effort, he commonly prospers.
Instead, when a coach holds a player accountable for the understanding that external circumstances- a bruised shin, being tired, an umpire’s call, have zero ability to regulate the player’s level of engagement or passion; he takes judgment off the table, imparts respect, and allows a player’s own inner wisdom to rule. Here, an athlete will commonly prosper.
Moreover, a major leaguer must understand that at times during an arduous 162 game schedule he might not be feeling his best. So, during these moments he must be extremely careful not to buy into the errant thoughts and feelings (such as “I just don’t feel like busting my butt today”) that are bound to arise. In other words, when an individual exists at a low level of functioning, he will not see life clearly and if he acts (loafs) from this perspective, he will stumble- 100% of the time.
Lastly, I want to be clear that I firmly believe in hustle. As a matter of fact I love to hustle and I am not giving Ramirez a pass for not giving his all. My bet however, is that Hanley Ramirez is no different than me and all he truly lacked the other night was the insightful realization of what was going on in his own mind. Thus, if a player fails to understand the temporary nature of a low level of well being, and its erroneous emotions; he has no choice but to be bound by the thoughts that pop into his head at that low moment. Sadly, if a coach fails to hold a player accountable for this understanding, and in turn like Fredi Gonzalez, dictates behavior, the opportunity to learn and ultimately prosper from this type of situation will be lost forever.