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.

Dusty Baker drops truth bombs

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Dusty Baker was fired last offseason despite leading the Nationals to 95 and 97-win seasons. This was not new for him. Cincinnati let him go after taking a miserable Reds team to back-to-back 90+ win seasons — three in the space of four years — and making it to the playoffs in his final two seasons. In both cases the team that let him go cratered as soon as he left. There are likely reasons that have nothing to do with Dusty Baker for that, but it seems like more than mere coincidence too.

I say that because every time someone gets to Dusty Baker for an interview, he drops some major truth bombs that make you wonder why anyone wouldn’t want him in charge. Sure, like any manager he has his faults and blind spots — more so in his distant past than in his recent past, I should not — but the guy is smart, has more experience than anyone going and is almost universally loved by his players.

Recently he sat down with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic to talk about life, baseball and everything, and once again the truth bombs were dropping. About the state of front offices today. About the different way black and white ex-managers and ex-players are treated. About what seems to be collusion on the free agent market. And, of course, about the state of the 2018 Nationals, who are likely to miss the playoffs despite being, more or less, the same team he led to those 97 wins last year. It’s an absolute must-read on any of those topics, but taken together it’s a “block off some time this afternoon and enjoy the hell out of it” read.

Two of my favorite passages follow. The first one is a great general point in life: always beware of people who spend more time telling you why they are successful than actually, you know, being successful.

In Cincinnati, no matter what I did or what we did — we brought them from the bottom — they were all over me, all the time, no matter what. If we won, it wasn’t winning the right way. They were like, “I don’t understand this mode of thinking.” Well, I don’t want you to understand my mode of thinking. That’s how I can beat you.

The second one is just delicious for what he does not say:

Rosenthal: Bryce Harper struggled for two-plus months. He didn’t struggle for two-plus months when you had him…

Baker: I know.

Based on the tone of the rest of the interview, in which Baker does not hesitate to say exactly what he thinks, it’s abundantly clear that he believes the Nats have messed Harper up somehow and that it wouldn’t have happened under him.

Like I said, though: there is a TON of great stuff in here. From a guy who, if you’ve listened to him talk when he does not give a crap about what people may say about him, has time and again revealed himself to  be one of the most interesting baseball figures of the past several decades.