As the local chapter chairman of the “Leave Ron Washington Alone” fraternity, I was watching with interest — watching even from some faraway vacation locales — as my man and his baseball team had a rocky, rutty month of July.
From a public standpoint, and also from certain elements within the Texas Rangers’ organization, the blame for all this fell on familiar shoulders.
When anything goes wrong in Arlington, it all comes out in the Wash.
At the lowest point in late July, even Brother Engel in this newspaper was wondering in print if the blame game directed at the manager could eventually lead to a firing at the end of the season.
What followed, however, was a run of Rangers wins last week at the ballpark, and it was all better for the time being, but, of course, there will be another crisis, and, as usual, it will all come out in the Wash again.
Meanwhile, I’m here to tell you that regardless of how this season ends, Ron Washington will not be fired. Actually, based on overall developments with the Rangers since April, the case can be made he deserves a contract extension with a fat raise attached.
No manager in the game has done a better job of managing a negative situation. That doesn’t make Washington the best manager, but there’s a short list among the 30 in MLB who have done an equal job of crisis management.
And if we include the big-picture hierarchy chart for the Rangers, Washington has certainly far outperformed the team’s ownership, the team’s newly minted president of baseball operations and the team’s newly minted, but already departed, president of baseball business.
But here’s the main reason that no matter what, Washington won’t be fired:
The owners aren’t that stupid. Or maybe it’s more like the owners learned a good baseball lesson after being real stupid last November. Bob? Ray? I’m assuming, right, that you did learn?
After the 2012 season, the rich guys decided to stir around in corporate crap. The decision came down to fix what wasn’t broke.
Nolan Ryan being in charge wasn’t that important anymore.
So Jon Daniels went from general manager to president of baseball operations. Jon became the big baseball cheese.
Rick George went from some executive title to president of baseball business. Rick became the business department big cheese.
Nolan, obviously with wounded pride, became simply a detached observer.
My, how things have changed in a mere seven months.
It’s funny how, once July went badly for the team on the field, everybody at the ballpark, including the owners, now want to be Nolan’s new best friend.
Daniels, meanwhile, finally broke out of a prolonged slump by making the Matt Garza trade — an excellent move — and it was a deal that came just when you had to wonder if Jon still had a baseball pulse.
He had the new title of baseball god, but he had no trigger finger. And he still hasn’t given Washington that long-awaited bat, but at least Daniels, with the Garza deal, came out of a funk that started at the winter meetings in December.
When the deep slump hit, the blame went to Washington. That’s point-blank wrong. The blame goes to a do-nothing Daniels, who, I repeat, redeemed some of his reputation with the Garza trade. But where’s that bat, Jon?
Word is, however, that Jon and Nolan are getting ballpark tight again. Well, good.
It was a once a diverse but productive combo. And that chemistry, although strange from a personality standpoint, should never have been altered. Right, Bob? Right, Ray?
Then there’s the business-side embarrassment for the owners.
Rick George, holding the second-most important job in the organization, departed the Rangers in July, seven months after his promotion, when he accepted less money and a job with far less prestige to become the athletic director at Colorado, a very-low-level player on the college scene.
So for the Rangers, the big organizational shake-up of November involved elevating to power a business guy who either didn’t want the job to begin with, or didn’t feel he was qualified to hold the job, or both.
If owners could be fired, then that’s who you fire in Arlington. Any owner who approved the Rick George decision should be axed. Right, Bob? Right, Ray?
Leave Ron Washington Alone.
He’s doing his job, and doing it well.
And with Nolan now coming back into power (excuse the laughter), Mr. Ryan needs to start evaluating those who haven’t done their jobs very well of late.
Oh, maybe he starts at the top. Right, Bob? Right, Ray?