The Grieving Process of Michael Young Playing Everyday

**ORIGINAL POSTED DATE 9/04/12**

There has been plenty of discussion in 2012 concerning Michael Young and his role on the Texas Rangers. I have contributed my fair share of it. Now that the season is drawing near to an end, and the dead horse of “what to do with Michael Young?” has been beaten to an uncomfortable state, I have gained some perspective. That perspective came in the form of a revelation – the entire saga of following and attempting to solve this Michael Young dilemma has mirrored the five stages of grief from the Kübler-Ross model.

You are likely aware of the five stages of grief. You either learned about them in school, or saw a network sit-com use them as the storyline for a 22 minute show, but you have likely heard of them. It’s entirely possible that my experience through this particular storyline is my own, but I have a suspicion that all Rangers fans have gone through a similar cycle this year, albeit at different paces. Just like with the grieving process, you can’t force someone to the next stage; they need to move through each step at their own pace. This is how that progression has moved for me. 

Denial

Michael Young is a great hitter, coming off of one of the best years of his career. Sure, he isn’t a good fielder anymore, but his bat is still really useful, and that’s all the Rangers need him to do anyway. This slump he’s in during the month of May is just a slump. He’ll pull out of it like the professional he is, just give him time.

Anger

Why is Michael Young still in the lineup every day? He’s been terrible at the plate – perhaps even worse than he has been in the field, and that’s saying something. Even more than being in the lineup every day, why does he continue to hit fifth? How can his clubhouse presence be so valuable that it is worth putting a lineup out there every day with its worst hitter planted smack dab in the middle of it. I like Ron Washington a lot, but this is indefensible. He keeps playing a player that is probably going to set some kind of modern day record in negative WAR.

Bargaining

This is fixable! All that Washington has to do is stop playing Young against right-handers. He doesn’t have any power against them anymore, and just rolls over on the ball on groundouts to the shortstop or third baseman. However, against left-handed pitchers, Young is essentially the same hitter he has always been. The Rangers could give his bats against right-handers to Craig Gentry, or Mike Olt, or really anyone, because it wouldn’t take much to improve on what Young is providing.

Depression

Wow. Young is really just going to keep playing every day come hell or high water, isn’t he? He’s on pace for 650 plate appearances…650 plate appearances of bad hitting. This same issue is going to happen again next year, probably. I’m now considering the possibility that it may be a good thing if Young were to be sidelined with an injury. That can’t be healthy. This whole fiasco is causing me to slowly slip into madness.

Acceptance

There is nothing I can do about it. Young is going to be in the lineup more than I want him to be, and more than I think he should. That is just a fact of life that I’m going to live with, and I’ll move on to worrying about something else. There may be days when he looks like the Michael Young of the good old days. I’ll try to enjoy those moments, knowing that they will be fewer and farther between than ever. The rest of the time, I’ll just continue on with basement-level expectations and hope to be pleasantly surprised.

That’s it, I’m done. I’ve reached Acceptance. I have come through this trying process on the other side, with a new outlook and can now get off to a fresh start. Michael Young is going to be a part of this Rangers team, and I can be okay with that, because there is nothing I can do to change it. I’ll hope for the day when that’s not the case, but I’m at peace with it for now. In my book, anything that he does that is a positive on the field will be all gravy, because I have no expectations of him playing like the Michael Young that myself and so many know and love.

I hope that you too, can find Acceptance in this whole thing. If you’re stuck in one of the other stages, or are moving through them slowly, it’s okay, you’re not alone. We’re all there together, but we’ll make it. Thank you for coming today. Enjoy baseball, and enjoy life. 

Peter Ellwood is a Senior Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can email him at Peter.Ellwood@shutdowninning.com or reach him on Twitter @FutureGM
Peter Ellwood

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