The Greatest Manager in Rangers History – Ron Washington

NS_18rangersN
In an announcement as shocking as Hulk Hogan turning on Hulkamaniacs everywhere and forming the nWo, Ron Washington has resigned his position as Manager of your Texas Rangers effective immediately.

The announcement has not only taken the Rangers organization by surprise, but also the media, the fan base, and the entire baseball community. No one expected this. Not even in a season like the one we are enduring now. We all know the disaster that is 2014 is far from his doing.

Washington was hired on November 6th, 2006 replacing Buck Showalter. Wash, as referred to by many around the DFW metroplex, immediately made an impact on the team despite having a losing record his first two seasons.

It was in 2007 that Washington made it clear that he was going to give it to you straight. He was going to tell you what he wanted you to do, and you were going to do it or he was going to let you know about it. In that 2007 season there was some tension with star player Mark Teixiera over the way Teixiera was, or wasn’t for that matter, working the counts during his at bats in certain parts of the game. When asked about the issue, Washington made it clear who was boss:

A lot of times we make three outs on four or five pitches… I just can’t see that late in the game when you’re four or five runs down. You’re at the point where the starter is out of the game, you’re in the middle (of the bullpen), these are the guys you want to get to. I’ve never asked him (Teixeira) to do it when the closer is in the game. But the middle guys, you want to make ’em throw… He feels like he’s going to only get one pitch in that type of situation to do something with. He wants to take advantage of it. I’ve got no problem with that. But can you guarantee with that one pitch that you’re going to do something with it? I don’t think any ballplayer on earth can guarantee that. You might pop it up, miss it, roll over it, jam yourself. Then you make one out on one pitch. I want to see him get a pitchers’ strike right there.”

Tex was traded later that season for a boat load of players including Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, and Neftali Feliz. It wasn’t long after that that Wash became known as a “players manager.”

Wash quickly became a player and organizational favorite. Everything from his one-liners in postgame press conferences to his dancing and virtual help to making runners run faster around the bases. Everyone seemed to love him. His smile was as big as Texas and was as contagious as the fall season flu bug.

Ron Washington was an avid Cadillac enthusiast.  A New Orleans native, Washington lost everything in Hurricane Katrina in 2005, including his 1985 Cadillac Biarritz. During the mid-winter awards banquet back in January 2011, the Rangers organization and players gave Washington a surprise and told him that they were replacing his Caddy with an exact replica.

It wasn’t until an off day in late May of that season that Wash finally received his Cadillac. Complete with white interior and a sun roof, just like his original. The team even put a brand new motor in it. At that point, it was clear the impact that Ron Washington had on this team and organization. He made enough of an impact for the entire organization to find, purchase, and replicate his prized Cadillac that meant so much to him.

The Rangers got better every year under Washington, improving his win totals each of his first five season culminating with a 96-66 record in 2011 and the second of what was back-to-back AL Pennants and World Series appearances. Washington’s time hasn’t been all glitz and glamour, however.

In 2009, Washington failed a drug test after testing positive for cocaine. Washington immediately offered his resignation knowing his just threw everything away. General Manager Jon Daniels and team President Nolan Ryan had other ideas however. They refused his resignation and worked with Washington to repair his reputation. They believed in Washington so much that they stuck their necks out there to help him through a difficult situation.

Washington was quoted as saying that he had a lapse in judgment and tried it only the one time while he was back home in New Orleans during the 2009 All Star Break. The fact that the Rangers brass had enough in them to forgive him and stick with him says more about Ron Washington than it does about the Rangers front office.

The bigger story, however, was in the clubhouse. Every single one of his players, led by team leader and face of the franchise Michael Young, stood right by Washington’s side. They never once waivered, never once second guessed him or the front office. The players loved playing for him, and if there was every any doubt, this put it all rest.

The very next year, the Rangers won 90 games for the first time since 1999 and just the third time in franchise history. This started a string of many ‘firsts’ in franchise history for Ron Washington and the Texas Rangers.

Washington led the Rangers to their first playoff series win by beating the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS. He also led the Rangers to their first home playoff win by beating the Yankees in game two of the ALCS that same season.

The Rangers, and Ron Washington, eventually beat the New York Yankees in six games in the ALCS to clinch their very first American League Pennant and first ever birth to the World Series.

Now Hall of Fame broadcaster Eric Nadel had a very emotional and exciting call when Neftaliz Feliz got the final out in the clincher.

The Rangers went on to lose the World Series four games to one to the San Francisco Giants. How could things get any better than that? Well, winning the World Series obviously.

Washington again led the team to new heights in 2011, setting a franchise record with 96 wins and again winning the American League Pennant in dominating fashion over the Detroit Tigers.

PictureWashingon (middle) holds up the second ALCS
Trophy in Rangers history while Nelson Cruz (left)
looks on.

That ALCS was one of the most exciting series’ to watch that year. Nelson Cruz hit a walk off grand slam in the 11th inning of Game Two, he then hit a three run homer in the 11th inning in Game Four, and the Rangers won Game Six in blowout fashion 15-5. The Rangers were by far and away the best offensive team in baseball and were arguably the best all-around team in the big leagues that year.

The Rangers were then involved in one of the most epic World Series ever played. I won’t recap it, we all know what happened. Many people believe that 2011 is the greatest World Series ever, and some even believe that Game Six of that series was the greatest game in baseball history.

Even though my team came out on the wrong end of the deal, it was in fact one of the top five greatest games in the history of the sport. In terms of drama and overall excitement, I put it top two along withGame 7 of the 1991 World Series.

Washington’s tenure with Texas didn’t come without second guessing, criticism, and fans calling for his head. Washington was often criticized his in game management skills, or lack thereof depending on who’s side you are on.

I remember a specific time back in 2008 or 2009 when I emailed Tim Cowlishaw, then of the Dallas Morning News, calling for the team to fire Ron Washington and fire him now! All fans are going to be arm chair GM’s. It’s okay—that’s what fans do. We second guess everything the manager does if it doesn’t work out the way we want it to. That’s why we are at home and they are at the ballpark.

With social media nowadays, the second guessing has been at an unsurpassed high. People question his lineup choices, his willingness to give players the green light to bunt or steal whenever they want to, his management of the bullpen arms, pulling starters too early, leaving starters in too long, and even question his competence when it comes to strategy.

The fact is that Ron Washington doesn’t spend 40 years in Major League Baseball without knowing what he’s doing. The man is smart. The man knows baseball. The man knows how to get his players up and get them to play for him.

Washington stuck to his guns and never changed the way he managed. He believed in his philosophy and never wavered from him stance despite constant criticism of his style of managing.

Washington leaves the Texas Rangers as perhaps the greatest manager in the franchise’s history. He is the Rangers’ winningest manager and stakes claim to two AL Pennants and two World Series appearances, and four straight seasons of 90+ wins.

Whatever the reason is that Ron Washington decided to leave the Texas Rangers, it will not take away the heights that he has helped excel this ball club to. We don’t know the reason, so let’s not speculate. We all have our ideas and want to play the guessing game. Until we know for 100% certainty, let’s just revel in his accomplishments.

After all, “that’s how baseball go.”

Billy Casey on sabtwitterBilly Casey on sablinkedinBilly Casey on sabfacebookBilly Casey on sabemail
Billy Casey
Billy is a baseball fanatic and has been around the game since he was four years old. The first ever game he attended was in September of '89 and Pete Incaviglia denied him an autograph after he had a bad batting practice session. Billy has held a grudge since. Billy is also a baseball coach who is known to dance around the dugout like Ron Washington during big plays in the game.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.