When the Boston Red Sox decided to designate slugging first baseman Hanley Ramirez for assignment, the main feeling of many throughout New England was confusion. Just over a month later, the confusion remains and we have more questions than answers.
While I wondered why a team trying to win a World Series would drop the man they had hitting third for most of the year for nothing in return, I knew there had to be an explanation. Ramirez wasn’t off to his best start, but he provided a presence in the middle of the lineup that couldn’t be duplicated by Jackie Bradley Jr., Blake Swihart, Eduardo Nunez, and Christian Vazquez combined. Would the Sox really just dump him due to faith in those guys, or worse, money? I sure hoped not.
As the weeks went by, Hanley remained unsigned. I noticed that he was just spending his time playing golf or fishing in Florida, which seems like the right thing to do when you are getting paid $15 million dollars for nothing. Still, some contending team should want to bring him in, right?
Nothing was happening and people were now taking notice. Questions were being raised about why a guy with a lot left in the tank was at home in Miami instead of mashing baseballs for the Mariners or Twins.
Last Friday, some strange news broke and Ramirez’s name was part of the story. At 5:31 p.m., local investigative journalist Michele McPhee sent out a vague, but disconcerting tweet.
— Michele McPhee (@MicheleMcPhee) June 22, 2018
Now while McPhee (the same person who broke the Aaron Hernandez murder investigation news) is a reputable source, there were still other people out there throwing things against the wall. Certain Twitter users were even alleging that Ramirez was connected to a murder. Of course, this sent the internets ablaze.
I was leaving work when I received the following text from a friend: “Hanley Ramirez murder investigation?! What is going on?!” On sports talk radio, McPhee was giving interviews but was vague about the details. It was clear that Hanley was not connected to a homicide. Instead, it seemed that he had ties to a drug ring out of Lawrence.
It was later reported that many in the local media knew of this rumor for a few weeks. Everything was pointing to Ramirez, the recently happy go-lucky teddy bear to suddenly being Boston’s version of Scarface. This surely must be why the Red Sox had let Ramirez go so abruptly. The trouble was, the team was sticking to its guns and allegedly unaware of the allegations and that the decision for release was made for “baseball reasons.” Yea, right.
Fast-forward through the weekend and Hanley’s name has been cleared in regard to committing any sort of crime although the suspect and Mass State Police did FaceTime with the former Red Sox slugger when placed under arrest. After the initial chaos on Friday night, things died down and eventually it became clear that McPhee had jumped the gun with her tweet. She did not do enough to pull the whole story together and seemed out to plug her new book. The court documents needed to confirm or deny Ramirez’ involvement weren’t even in her hands until Monday.
While McPhee still had some of the details correct (an alleged friend of Hanley did tell police that a box of the drug fentanyl belonged to the slugger), she has now acknowledged that her timeline was messed up. McPhee did herself a great disservice by not doing everything she could to confirm what she was reporting and now she’ll face some heat and lose some credibility. It’s never a great idea to get caught up in rumors and breaking news and that seems to be what happened here.
This leaves us back where we were on May 25, the day Boston cut ties with Ramirez. It’s tough not to be confused about this whole Ramirez-fentanyl connection. It’s also difficult to see why, if this is not true, Hanley was released and still is not playing for an MLB club. He’s now had his name thrown into a bad place and his character called into question. Let’s see if the big guy gets a shot at redemption on a baseball diamond sometime in the near future.