On Aug. 23, with the Cubs in town, Ramirez outdid himself. A ball skidded past him and he barely moved to go get it.
He might as well have thumbed his nose at all the plumbers and teachers and gardeners who paid hard-earned money to get into the park. For once, the adoring fans booed, a rare show of disapproval, while the Cubs rallied and won the game.
That did it for me. I still went to a couple of games after that, but the fun had gone out of it, even though I still like Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and a lot of the other players.
Major League Baseball did virtually nothing for years about players who were obviously juiced, and the reason was greed. Now here I was paying good money to see a rich player loaf, and I felt as if I was part of the corruption for being there in the stands.
My World Series tickets cost $500 for the pair. I signed the check, then felt like a fool.
Ramirez was supposed to earn $25 million this year. The suspension cost him $7.7 million of that, but he's still hauling in $17.3 million for roughly two-thirds of a season. Shouldn't someone making roughly $170,000 a game be grateful enough to go all-out on every play?
"I can't control that," Ramirez said of the booing during that Cubs game.
Years ago, when I was a Little Leaguer, my dad used to take me to see the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's. I got to watch some of the greatest stars who ever played, including Willie Mays and Reggie Jackson.
The A's Rickey Henderson was a great player too, but he slipped into funks and lollygagged now and then. One night, he pulled one of those stunts while my dad and I were in the park, and my old man looked like he wanted to run onto the field and throttle Henderson.
My dad was a working guy who didn't ask much of a player except a little class and a lot of hustle.
It was a simple matter of fairness, honesty and respect, and there was some kind of social and moral decay at work if a player could act like a spoiled child and still be marketed and idolized.
Maybe I'll be in a more forgiving mood next year and return to the ballpark, I just don't know. But I'm giving my World Series tickets this year to the person who writes my favorite 50-word sermon to Ramirez.
Go ahead, let him have it. I'm ticked off that I might have to miss the World Series because of him.
I'll give you the tickets and they're yours to use. But if you can't find anyone to go with you, I might just. . . .
I mean, shouldn't at least one person be there to boo when Manny comes to bat?
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