Washington Appreciation

Read Twitter after a Rangers loss where Ron Washington pinch-hit Craig Gentry for Leonys Martin earlier than the 9th inning, or when Jason Frasor pitches three innings. It is definitely not a pretty sight, and everyone is calling for Wash’s head. I can’t really blame them here. Ron Washington is not known for his in-game managing abilities, but so few managers are. I can pick out several things I do not enjoy about his managing skills on the field, but there is one thing I know for sure: the players on the Texas Rangers would run through a wall for that man.
There are two jobs a manager has, essentially. He must make game decisions like who to put in the lineup and when to take out a starting pitcher, and he has to motivate his players. I’m no stranger to Ron Washington’s hiccups and mistakes in his managing style on the field. There are plenty of times when I’m ready to pull my hair out because I absolutely think he’s made the wrong decision. I can also tell you that most of the time, the Rangers have gone ahead and won the ballgame anyway.

A lot goes on in a baseball clubhouse that fans and most media do not see. I’m certainly no expert on the clubhouse on goings, but for the Rangers past few seasons, it’s seemed like a tight-knit group of guys with high energy. Whenever free agents or trade acquisitions come to the clubhouse, they comment on how great it is. Just Tuesday, Alex Rios was on 105.3 The Fan’s The Ben & Skin Show discussing how electric and focused this team is. “When you get to play in an environment like this, it’s something you should be proud of,” Rios said after he was asked about his tweet mentioning the energy of his new teammates. He also mentioned that he likes Ron Washington’s style and that he “lets you play the game the way you do.” A few years ago, Yorvit Torrealba was quoted saying he’s “never been on a team like this where everybody gets along and has fun.” Winning does bring clubhouse unity, but a good manager can do the same.

This Texas Rangers team has guys like AJ Pierzynski and Ian Kinsler, who are talked about throughout the league as hated players with bad attitudes. This team has Adrian Beltre, who was loudly grumbled about as “not a team player” when he signed his contract here. If you look at the dugout at any given moment, one or all of these players is usually having a conversation with others. If you see a walk-off celebration, these players are some of the most ecstatic on the team. Ron Washington could be a reason. Is he the only reason? Of course not, but some dugouts didn’t look near as happy to have these guys.

In July, the Rangers were bad. They went through a pretty tough slump, and got swept by the Cleveland Indians. Ron Washington knew when the right time to push some buttons on his team was. After the last game against Cleveland, on July 28th, the Rangers manager closed the doors of his clubhouse and spoke to his team. They needed to be spoken to. They needed their manager’s support and more-than-likely tough love. Since that day, the Rangers have gone 18-4. They haven’t lost more than one game in a row, and have only lost one series. Some may argue it’s an easier schedule now, so they are taking advantage of it. While that has truth to it, of course, the timing couldn’t line up any more perfectly.

For as much as Ron Washington gets criticized, he doesn’t get enough appreciation. There’s something to be said about a manager who holds the respect of all 25 of the grown men he oversees every day. The players speak out frequently on how well he runs his club. They would rob a bank for this guy, and if you took him out of the clubhouse, the team would certainly be affected. Calling for Ron Washington’s job is futile. He took this team to three straight playoff seasons (one short-lived, sadly). He’s not perfect, but there’s only one other manager I’d rather have sitting near the entrance of the dugout. If Ron Washington leaves the Rangers, it better be because Joe Maddon has replaced him. Otherwise, win with Wash.

Emily Cates is a Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can reach her at Emily.Cates@ShutDownInning.com or  on Twitter at @EmLikesBaseball.
Emily Cates

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