Of Ron Washington, Rush Limbaugh and draconian measures
Actually the most astonishing thing about Wednesday’s events was that the Rangers did not fire manager Ron Washington when they had the chance.
Let’s face it, this is a manager who always seemed one five-game losing streak from taking the fall and if the Rangers had pulled the plug last summer, then it’s doubtful there would have been much anguish over the decision.
Instead, when Washington called Nolan Ryan and told him what happened, the club president responded by saying, “You’re part of our family and we’re going to help you through this.”
Personally I thought it was lousy that the Rangers had not extended Washington’s contract in the off-season after an 87-win season and were willing to let him enter this season in the final year of a contract. That seemed dead wrong and completely unappreciative for what he has done for the franchise.
You can only base opinions on what you know however and now it seems obvious that the Rangers – especially Ryan – do deeply and appropriately appreciate what Washington has done no matter how heinous one views his transgression.
And it was pretty stupid. Those of us who know the man and have a high respect for him – count me high among them – still wanted to ask him,: “What the…were you thinking.”
Actually we did ask him that and he had no excuses to offer. Only deep remorse. But really we all know why such things happen because bad things happen to good people and good people make bad decisions. Been there, done that and you have too.
But if this proves not to be a one-time thing…
It was Buck Showalter who once said that most people are remembered for the worst decision they ever made in their lives and as a parent, I might have brought that up more than once. Most survive without those decisions being brought to public light but most aren’t employed in the most scrutinized job in America.
There are those who are saying Washington should be fired, which is hardly a surprise. Only need a keyboard or a microphone to have an opinion and it’s important to have a big opinion on such a matter, playing it safe right down the middle on this one only invites scorn, ridicule and perceptions of no backbone.
In this business, it’s not whether you are right or wrong but it’s how loudly you scream that counts, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter set the standard on that score and all others have blindly followed. You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream.
The Rangers revealed their hand on Wednesday. They have chosen to stand behind their manager and let him continue.
Well, if the pitching is good, the defense is solid and the Rangers hit better than last year, then all is forgotten. The Rangers will be winning, Washington will still be the manager and maybe the turnstiles, despite the traffic cones, barriers and maddening construction, will start rolling again in a satisfactory manner.
If the reverse is true, then we are back to where we were before Wednesday and there will be only one man who will shoulder the blame regardless of what has happened in the past, good or bad.
Will this affect the clubhouse and how the players perform? You can figure that one out.
Think this changes Michael Young? Josh Hamilton? Ian Kinsler? Think 12 pitchers fighting for their professional jobs are really caught up in this. Think Frank Francisco, who is a free agent after this season, is really spending a lot of time pondering all of this. Think C.J. Wilson is going to be less fanatic about winning a spot in the rotation because of this?
Would a pennant excuse what Washington did? Of course not. But at the same time, one totally foolish, irresponsible and stupid lapse in judgment should also not destroy anybody’s career, whether they are leaders or followers.
Sorry, that seems more wrong than anything else at stake here. That seems dead wrong. Completely wrong. That seems to be what should be screamed the loudest.
It happened, it has been addressed, the Rangers handled it in the manner they deemed appropriate. They are standing by their manager.
Not the easiest thing to do and far from most popular but that seems to be most proper given all the circumstances.