This weekend, Hanley Ramirez returns to Miami for the first time since becoming a Dodger. The 3-game series this weekend will be the first time he has worn an opposing jersey in the state of Florida since September 20, 2005, when Ramirez was a 21-year old member of the Boston Red Sox. He only played two games that year and was traded to the Marlins in the offseason, where he flourished for a while. Of course, Ramirez was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers last month.
Take the hiring of former White Sox manager, the curiously off kilter Ozzie Guillen, and combine it with the Showtime network following the Marlins around for season 2 of their baseball reality series "The Franchise" and it becomes clear the inevitability of chaos. The first victim of that chaos was Ramirez, who was forced to switch positions to make room for free agent prize Jose Reyes. HanRam had once been the future of the Marlins but was now essentially being replaced by the former Mets star.
The July 25 trade to Los Angeles for two C+ pitching prospects rescued Ramirez from the torture of playing for a team that is trying to squeeze him out. Furthermore, he finally got to suit up for a contender.
The Dodgers are emanating the Texas Rangers from two years ago, when the Rangers went bankrupt in July of 2010 but managed to pull off the Cliff Lee deal and march toward the first pennant in franchise history. The Dodgers are indeed storied, but they have not made any significant noise in 20 years. Fresh off the Frank McCourt disaster, figurehead Magic Johnson is standing at the forefront of what will likely be a golden era for the 3rd most successful baseball team of all time (this is when I tip my hat to the Yankees and the Cardinals).
Hanley Ramirez talks like he is reborn. He smiles a whole lot more, and he is back playing shortstop. Meanwhile, the Miami Marlins are self-destructing in this inauguaral season of their re-branding effort. They are dumping players in a veritable fire sale (though they were not able to unload Josh "Fool's Gold" Johnson), and the once-enthused city of Miami is once again losing faith in their Marlins. It is amazing that a franchise can win 2 World Series championships in its first 10 years but still struggle so hard to capture the devotion of their fan base.
Ramirez does not have to play in that environment anymore. He is on a team with promise, security, history, and plays for a city that will love him. With Don Mattingly, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp, and Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers are going to be here for a while. General manager Ned Colletti was very serious about acquiring Cole Hamels from Philadelphia. Like the Atlanta Braves, they have always had a deep farm system, and are prepared to make the necessary moves for success.
This weekend, Ramirez returns to Miami as a new man. A Dodger.
You can bet he is going to want to show up the entire franchise in this weekend series, especially Jose Reyes. But, I would not expect much in the form of vindication. HanRam feels right at home in Dodger Blue, and he will likely feel that way for years to come.