We have just turned the page on the calendar to February, and that means the beginning of baseball's spring training is just around the corner. And I'm happy to report that we'll be welcoming a new member into the house for the 2013 season. Actually, it'll be more like welcoming home a long lost friend ....... I know I've mentioned this story a couple of times before in my MLB reports, but here it is one more time just to refresh your memory.
The last time we welcomed Hanley Ramirez into the house, he didn't stay for long. Not that he wanted to leave, instead it was his employers that made him leave. That was back in 2009, when Ramirez - the star SS for the Florida (now known as Miami) Marlins - and also outfielder Cameron Maybin showed up at spring training with their hair in beginner dreads (Ramirez left photo below, Maybin on right) . After saying nothing and doing nothing for most of the preseason, all of a sudden about a week before the regular season was to start, the team's ownership announced a new team policy: no dreads allowed - or any other kind of long hair for that matter - for anyone playing for the Marlins (rules like this can exist in MLB - but not in the NFL because the basic agreement between NFL owners and players allows players to do whatever they please with their hair). I don't know what reaction Maybin had, but Ramirez was incensed at the edict, to say the least.
At first Ramirez said he wanted to be traded but then changed his mind and took his anger out on the baseball instead, pounding it to the tune of a career high .342 batting average that season. But Hanley never lost his desire to have dreads.
That was apparent in July of '09, when on the Marlins' visit to Los Angeles, a TV camera got a shot of him in the dugout before a game wearing one of those dreadlock wigs that Manny Ramirez had made so popular with Dodgers fans (photo below). And that desire no doubt only increased with Jose Reyes' dreads getting longer in New York, and with the arrival of Andrew McCutchen in Pittsburgh. So Hanley, I believe, then began to plot his escape from the Marlins. Problem was, he had just signed a 6-year contract with the Marlins in May 2008; so his only way out was going to have to be via a trade.
As soon as that happened I kind of figured it wouldn't be long before we saw Hanley with dreads again. And sure enough, seeing him for the first time since last season as he plays for the Dominican team entered in the Caribbean Baseball Series currently underway, the dreads are back! And as you can see (photos below) Hanley's not waiting around for them to grow long on their own. He's already got the extensions going , making his dreads long enough that we won't have and difficulty at all seeing them this season.
As luck would have it, the power blackout at the Super Bowl got me to looking to see what else was on TV. And much to my surprise I found that ESPN2 was televising one of the Caribbean Series games. I stayed tuned long enough to see Ramirez nearly put a dent in the center field wall with a drive that went for a 2-run double. The way I see it, the Marlins' loss is the Dodgers' gain - because a happy Hanley is capable of great things. If he can stay healthy this season, I think Dodgers fans are going to be in for a real treat.