Ron Washington has not been blackballed from Major League Baseball, but rather he is stuck in Famous People Purgatory.
This is an elite club of individuals, including actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, politician John Edwards, rapper Chris Brown, slugger Mark McGwire, college football coach Bobby Petrino, TV pundit Keith Olbermann and others. They all blew it. They all went away. They all returned.
This week, the former Texas Rangers manager was quoted extensively in an interview with The Advocate in Baton Rouge. Washington said no teams have called with a job offer. None. Nor should they. At least not until this season is over.
“I’m hoping that the game doesn’t turn its back on me because I have a lot to offer, and I want to offer it in any capacity,” Washington told the newspaper in a heartbreaking interview.
Everyone should believe that. Wash has much to offer a baseball team. This valuable resource should not be out of the game forever.
If after this season he is not extended an opportunity to be a coach, a manager, a roving instructor or something else, then the conspiracies and race-card columns will have merit. Until then, Wash is just another guy who screwed up and is doing hard time before he returns. He does need to return. Baseball is better with Ron Washington.
This was the second time he talked to the media since he abruptly resigned from the Rangers as manager on Sept. 5. He admitted to being “not truthful” to his wife.
The Rangers wanted him to stay and fight but, in that moment, he likely panicked and felt it was best to just get out of town. Nothing against new manager Jeff Bannister, but I wish Wash had stayed. But I understand why he left.
If he is perplexed as to why no teams have called him, he has no one to blame but himself. This was the second time he put himself and this franchise in a bad spot. The admission of cocaine use and whatever exactly happened back in September put his team in a compromising position. We will never know what did happen, and ultimately it is a private matter.
Part of coming back is this — sitting in timeout at home in New Orleans. Part of re-entering MLB will be to go through the cliched process of “slowing down,” working with the “roots of the game,” spending time with family, blah blah blah. When a team does hire Wash after the season, the spin will be he learned, he is grateful, and now he knows what’s important in life, blah blah blah.
Every famous person who blows it has to sit one out, show some humility, and then return. Whether they learned anything is usually irrelevant. What matters is they did the time.
If baseball does not bring this man back after this season, it will be the height of hypocrisy. This is a league that houses, protects and grants second chances to sinners of all kinds. The common thread is they can play.
McGwire is a hitting coach for the Dodgers. Barry Bonds was hired as a roving instructor for the Giants. Jason Giambi held onto his job in the bigs for nearly 20 years. The Yankees are going to retire Andy Pettitte’s number. Hell, Alex Rodriguez is back.
If clubs want to hold Wash’s past against him as a means not to hire him as a manager, OK. It’s hypocrisy, but OK. To shut him out completely is ignorance, and will seem racist. After all, the man performed.
He has a .521 winning percentage in nearly eight seasons with the Rangers. He is the most successful manager in team history. He led them to a pair of World Series appearances and was one strike away (twice) from winning one. The man is a survivor who put his players first, and they loved him for it. He has been in the game for more than 40 years.
You may not have cared for his style — and many of you think he fell backward into this team’s success — but results are results. He gets the credit. Before Wash, this team belonged in the same paragraph as the Clippers, Bengals, Cubs and other North American pro sports jokes.
It is premature to say that Wash is a victim of racism, or that he is being blackballed by Major League Baseball.
Wash deserves to sit this one out, but he also deserves to come back.
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