For an athlete, sometimes all it takes is an opportunity. Some falter and fumble the chance when the ball is given to them. Some, still, may never receive the golden chance. Sometimes it comes as the result of the misfortune of others. Sometimes another’s injury cracks the door open just wide enough for an understudy to squeeze through and give it a go.
*Cut to millions of New England Patriots fans nodding in unison*
Michael Brantley’s shoulder surgery may have been Jose Ramirez’ go signal. Though the season is a relatively infinitesimal ten games into the 2016 journey, it sure seems like J-Ram’s taken notice that he could really play a part in what is expected to be an October to remember for the Indians. He’s been nothing more than a pleasant surprise as he settles into his super-sub role; diligently keeping the Brantley’s left-field seat warm, while not at all embarrassing himself in the process of learning an unfamiliar position.
Or he’ll take over for a 6,000 year-old (ballparked) Juan Uribe at third, setting up a tantalizing fallback plan on the left side of the infield with the brilliant Francisco Lindor if Giovanny Urshela doesn’t pan out. Suddenly, Jose Ramirez has gone from questionable afterthought met with a dismissive shrug of the shoulders to an apparent serious cog on this team.
But what seems to be coming around most impressively is J-Ram’s bat, where he seems to be driving the ball with some serious authority almost from the first hack he took in Goodyear. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t chuckle when his helmet goes flying as if he’s got springs bolted into his scalp?
So, what does all of this mean? In the long run, probably not much. Baseball is a game that humbles quickly. But for the first two weeks, Ramirez looks like he’s exactly what the Indians have needed to keep them afloat as they wait for their best hitter to suit up.
Just a bit of an FYI coming from my adopted backyard of Toronto:
Are you curious about how former Tribe executive Mark Shapiro is adjusting to his new career and life in the Great White North? Well, truthfully, it isn’t that much different other than the exchange rate and he has a deadly lineup that rivals what the Indians had in the mid-90s. Stephen Brunt of SportsNet.ca sits down with the ever-affable Shapiro as he discusses the move (and, somewhat surprisingly, Shapiro’s serious doubts afterwards) and what he feels the new fanbase should expect. Pretty interesting stuff from a man who probably did better for us than we’d want to admit. Check it out.