I was on Sirius XM’s MLB Home Plate this morning and I was asked something I hadn’t considered before that moment: In light of the Rangers’ decision to give Ron Washington a second chance, will it now be harder to fire him for poor performance than it would be to fire any other manager? I took that to mean would it be harder from a PR perspective and would it be construed as caving to media pressure or something.
My answer, which now that I’ve had an hour to think on it I feel even more strongly about: Nolan Ryan is the last guy who cares about petty public relations games. My guess is that Washington will keep his job as long as the team contends and that if the team disappoints, he’ll be fired. And when he is fired, Ryan will say “I
fired him because we stink,” and that’ll be that.
I think we in the media tend to over think the PR implications of everything, and that the whole “fire Washington/don’t fire Washington” thing is an example of that. There were and there still are far more important considerations than PR in this situation: would keeping Washington last year be a bad move for the team? Would it be good or bad for him as a person? Would disciplining him last year raise employment law concerns? Same too with firing him at some undetermined point in the future, although in that case the biggest question by far is whether or not Washington maintains control of the team and puts them in a position to win baseball games.
Which is what every manager is up against. Not too many of them get to leave their jobs on their own terms. Bobby Cox will this fall. Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and probably Lou Piniella will. Maybe Ron Gardenhire. Everyone else? They get canned eventually. Unless he wins a ring or two, Ron Washington will someday as well. And when it happens, I don’t think anyone will be thinking too hard about the cocaine.
(BTW: how often do you think Nolan Ryan is asked to pose this way for pictures)