What they're saying about Ron Washington

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Ron Washington headshot.jpgSome assorted Internet, newspaper and Texas Ranger player reaction to the Ron Washington cocaine news:

  • Jeff Passan: “By treating Washington’s incident as a slip-up and allowing MLB to
    investigate whether he had any sort of a drug problem, the Rangers did
    a disservice to their players, fans and anyone else with a vested
    interest in the franchise. Texas allowed a third party to chart the
    course for its discipline . . . Rehabilitation does not, however, necessitate employment, no matter how
    compromised the Rangers organization finds itself. Though the backlash
    of changing managers would have been severe, the tone sent by the
    message – drug use of any kind will not be tolerated – would resonate
    for much longer.”
  • Jean-Jacques Taylor: “The Rangers should’ve fired Ron Washington the day he admitted using cocaine during last year’s All-Star break. No questions asked.”
  • Rob Neyer: “I won’t begin to argue that Ron Washington is a bad guy. Baseball
    managers have been self-medicating for a long time, usually with
    alcohol but occasionally with other things. Is an occasional (or
    “one-time”) cocaine user more ethically or morally deficient than a
    functioning alcoholic?”
  • Lookout Landing: “Ron Washington has a lot going on. More, I imagine, than we could ever
    know. This, of course, is all speculation on my part, and I could be
    totally off-base, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Washington got to the
    All-Star Break, recognized a limited window of opportunity to unwind a
    little bit, and seized it by the balls. That he was so up-front about
    it before results came back suggests that he was aware he made a
    mistake and doesn’t do this all the time. And, in the end, that renders
    this sort of an insignificant story. The only lesson to be learned here
    is that maybe next time Washington should smoke weed like everybody
    else.”
  • Babes Love Baseball: “Ron Washington wins the 2010 Shocker Award. Already. Seriously, who saw this one coming?
  • Ken Rosenthal: “To be sure, people have come back from more trying circumstances, but
    as Ryan said, the news of Washington’s drug use only increases the
    pressure that he is under. That pressure existed before, exists every
    day for every major-league manager. But a revelation of cocaine use
    takes it to another level. Now more than ever, Ron Washington needs to win.”
  • Jim Reeves: “Yes, the Texas Rangers should have fired Ron Washington on the spot in July. That, I suspect,
    is what most teams or companies would have done. You or I probably
    would not have survived such a transparently self-serving confession of
    “one time” cocaine use. I’m glad they didn’t, but that’s personal; that’s because I know and
    like Washington and have grown to appreciate his managerial style more
    than I did in 2007, his first year in Texas. That doesn’t excuse his behavior. This goes beyond stupid. This begs
    the question: How can Washington manage others when he can’t manage
    himself?”
  • Michael Young: “Going forward, I don’t see it being a big issue at all. He made a mistake. He admitted it. He talked to the team about it.
    Guys were able to say their piece. He gave an open-door policy for guys
    to answer whatever question they wanted. You can’t ask for much more
    than that. It won’t be a distraction for the guys. We’ll get ready for
    the season.”
  • Darren Oliver: “If you’re on the outside looking in, it looks really bad if you don’t
    know Washington as a person. But we all know him. He’s a
    good man. I haven’t heard anything bad about him. You could tell it
    hurt him. He was sincere.”
  • Josh Hamilton: “I was an addict. All I cared about was getting more and using more
    drugs. I didn’t care who I hurt. He made a mistake one time.
    Our stories are nothing alike. He came forward. He took it like a man.
    I think Wash handled it well. It’s a privilege to be a spokesman for
    him. I feel nothing less about Wash. He’s learned from this.”

Just to reiterate my opinion, which I’ve now had a chance to sleep on and with which I remain comfortable:  The Rangers moment of truth was last summer. If, at the time, their conversations and intuition with respect to Washington gave them a bad vibe, yes, they would have been OK to fire him. I’ve worked with drug users before, and it can be a really bad scene. And while giving second chances is always something that should be strongly considered, you’re under no obligation to give one if you don’t think it will be used properly and if you think doing so will be detrimental to the organization as a whole.

But if you trust Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels to run your team — and there is absolutely no reason to doubt their judgment based on anything they’ve done with the Rangers — you have to trust their judgment not to fire Washington. They talked to him. They considered the situation. And based on everything they knew about both the situation and the man, they decided to stick with him. I think that decision should be respected and that Washington should be allowed to do what every other manager gets to do: get fired for losing ballgames one day.

Kirk Gibson home run happened 30 years ago

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With the Dodgers trying to make it back to the World Series for the second year in a row — and trying to win it for the first time in 30 years — it’s worth looking back at the last time they won it. More specifically, it’s worth looking back at the signature moment from the last time they won it. Which, really, was one of baseball’s all-time signature moments.

Yep, I’m talking about Kirk Gibson’s famous game-winning home run off of Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, which happened 30 years ago tonight.

All playoff magic for anyone too young to remember Bill Mazeroski’s homer in 1960 is measured against Gibson taking Dennis Eckersley downtown to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 win. Heck, even if you were around in 1960, it’s far less likely that you saw Mazeroski’s homer than it was for you to have seen Gibson’s. Nationally broadcast in prime time to a nation of millions who had not yet fragmented into viewers of hundreds of obscure cable channels and various forms of streaming entertainments, it was a moment that sent shockwaves through the world of sports.

For my part, I was fifteen years-old, sitting in my living room in Beckley, West Virginia watching it as it happened. Like most of the rest of the country, I was convinced that the Dodgers had no chance to beat the mighty Bash Brothers and the 104-win Oakland A’s. Especially given that the Dodgers’ leader, MVP-to-be Gibson, was hobbled and not starting. Even when he was called on to pinch hit, I had no faith that he’d be able to touch Eckersley, the best relief pitcher on the planet, let alone hit the ball with any kind of authority.

But, as Vin said when he called it, the Dodgers’ year was so improbable that, in hindsight, it made perfect sense for Gibson to have done the impossible: