Saturday, July 11, 2015

Jeers: Where Everybody Knows Your Trainer's Name

A week ago, the Mets embarked on a West Coast road trip after being swept by the Chicago Cubs at home.  The trip began with the Mets sitting a season-high 4½ games out of first place in the National League East.  However, after a 4-2 sojourn in Los Angeles and San Francisco, coupled with Friday night's "welcome home" win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Mets now find themselves just two games behind the first place Washington Nationals with two games to play before the All-Star Break.

Normally, that would be enough to cause even the most pessimistic Mets fans to crack a smile, or at the very least show off their best Lucas Duda grin.  But no.  The Mets just had to mess up Steven Matz's first month in the big leagues by allowing him to pitch last Sunday at Dodger Stadium after he complained of stiffness near his left armpit following his masterful debut appearance on June 28.

That's the left one.  The armpit he pitches with.  (Well, you know what I mean.)

Some of the blame for the injury could be placed on Terry Collins, who allowed Matz to throw 110 pitches in his debut and 101 more in his second start, after Matz had yet to surpass 100 pitches in any of his 15 starts with AAA-Las Vegas earlier this year.  But that would be the easy person to blame.  It's a lot more fun to blame Mets trainer Ray Ramirez.

See that press release up there?  That snippet was at the very bottom of the formal announcement made by the Mets when Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph decided on the team's coaching staff shortly after both men were hired to be the club's general manager and manager, respectively.  It was just an afterthought.  And look at some of the pertinent information on it.

  • Ramirez earned a Master's Degree in Sports Medicine.
  • Ramirez was certified by the National Athletic Trainers Association three decades ago.

Ramirez got a Master's Degree to do what he's doing for a living.  And he's been certified to put Mets players on the disabled list since a time when most of his current Mets victims weren't even alive.  No wonder this was all listed at the bottom of the press release.  The Mets didn't want us to know they were bringing in Dr. Death himself.

Dr. Death (as he's been called on Twitter by many trainer-phobic Mets fans) has never been liked by the masses since the team moved to Citi Field in 2009.  Anyone who has attended the Mets' home opener each year can vouch for that, as the most thunderous boos are usually reserved for Ramirez during the pre-game introductions.

But even if the plethora of injuries or the misdiagnosis of other maladies have nothing to do with Ramirez (let's just say they do), it's obvious that there's something wrong with the team's strength and conditioning practices when they lead to so many trips to the disabled list for those unfortunate souls who wear a Mets uniform for a living.

Let's just say this about Ray Ramirez.  People know his name.  And if you're doing your job correctly as a team trainer, no one should know who you are by name, even if you have your own baseball card that says your name is "Ray Ramirez, Trainer".

Dr. Death before receiving his PhD in deathdom.

When Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo wrote "Where Everybody Knows Your Name", the song that became the classic theme to the long-running television show, "Cheers", they had no idea that the song could also be applied to Ray Ramirez.

The song's co-writers began the catchy ditty with the following lyric:

"Making your way in the world today
takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries
sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?"

Ramirez took everything he had to make his way in the world today.  The problem is that now he's adding to Mets fans' worries by breaking Mets players.  To be honest, it would sure help a lot if Ray Ramirez just got away.

Mets fans know Ray Ramirez's name even though he's just the team's head trainer.  Fans shouldn't know his name.  And unlike the song, those fans are not always glad he came.  When Ramirez tends to a fallen Met, the troubles are all the same.  We just want to go back to a time when no one knew the trainer's name.  (For the record, the trainer prior to Ramirez was Scott Lawrenson.  I'll bet you had forgotten his name.  It's probably because he did his job properly.)

Like many other players who have been knocked to the mat and stayed down, Steven Matz won't be coming off the 15-day disabled list in 15 days.  As a result, there will be no cheers for Matz at Citi Field anytime soon.  But there will continue to be jeers directed at the Mets and Ray Ramirez in particular for the way the team conditions its players.

Sometimes it seems as if Dr. Death is the only person on the team who never gets injured.


On a related and sad note, Roger Rees, who played Robin Colcord on "Cheers", passed away last night at the age of 71.  The late actor gained fame as the title character in "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby", a role that earned him the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play in 1983.  Everybody will always remember Roger Rees's name.  May he rest in peace.


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