Anthony Castrovince has a story up on MLB.com about Michael Young. The Michael Young who is hitting .267/.299/.350 for a team with World Series hopes but who is still an everyday player.
Why is he still an everyday player? Here’s Ron Washington:
“Intangibles,” Washington said. “He leads even when things are not right [for him personally]. That’s what leaders do. If you didn’t look at his numbers, you wouldn’t know Michael Young is struggling.”
Washington goes on to say that Young busts his butt and cheers on his teammates despite the lack of production. Which is something no one has ever denied about him. Indeed, after trafficking in just as much Michael Young hate as anyone out there, I recently made the effort to actually talk to a former teammate of his to get to the heart of the Young-love. To see what we on the outside were missing. And the player I spoke to went on at length about how much his teammates love and appreciate him and how they are all willing to overlook production blips in light of that.
But that’s his teammates. You would think, however, that the one guy who should not be putting all that much weight on the intangibles and the rah-rah is the team’s manager. He’s the one guy, it seems, who has to make the hard choices about who is actually productive and who is not. He should be the guy who plays bad cop when people who are not ultimately responsible for the team’s wins and losses like he is makes appeal to intangibles and chemistry.
And Ron Washington is not doing that.
Mark Buehrle last pitched in 2015, for the Toronto Blue Jays. He was still pretty effective and toyed with the idea of pitching last season, but he never signed anywhere and is, for all intents and purposes, retired.
Now at least his number will be retired officially. It will be done by the club for which he had the most success and with which he is, obviously, most associated:
Buehrle pitched for the White Sox for 12 years. He was the model of consistency and durability in Chicago, logging over 200 innings a season in every single season but his rookie year, when he was primarily a reliever. He was a solid defender, a multi-time All-Star, tossed a perfect game in 2009 and helped the Chisox to their first World Series title in 88 years in 2005.
He was also one of baseball’s fastest workers, so I’m going to assume that, in his honor, the number retirement ceremony will last, like, a minute 20, after which everyone can get on with their dang day.
Terry Francona just won the American League pennant, the Manager of the Year Award and his Cleveland Indians will likely be among the favorites to win it all in 2017. Between that and his 17-year track record as one of the best managers in the business, he will have a job, somewhere, for as long as he wants one.
He said yesterday, however, that his body will likely limit how long he manages:
“It gets harder and harder physically. It really does. It takes me longer to recharge every year . . . I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot of health problems. It just takes a toll on you. I love [the game of baseball]. I really do, but I can’t see myself doing something else. But there is going to come a day when I feel like I’m shortchanging the team or the organization. That’s not fair.
“Even now, during batting practice, I’ll come in and get off my feet a little bit. I think everybody understands. But when there comes a day when it gets in the way, I’m going to have to pull back, and it’s not because I don’t love managing. You have to have a certain amount of energy to do this job right.”
Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him.
With multiple World Series rings there isn’t much more in baseball that Francona can accomplish, but here’s hoping he sticks around and accomplishes a lot more before he trades in his baseball spikes for golf spikes and calls it a career.