Wash(ing) Away the Doubt
While the rest of the world is discussing telephones – for the first time since their invention I might add – and LaRussa’s mistakes, I want to talk about Ron Washington’s performance as a manager. I’m not going to delve into every shift, steal, bunt, or walk. I’ll leave that for all those doing the same with LaRussa right now. I’d rather look at how Washington got to where he is and how his team plays under him.
Washington makes some interesting moves, there’s no question about that. Napoli eighth anyone? And a lot of them work out. Again, Napoli eighth anyone? But to credit simple changes to the lineup as the source of the Rangers success would be narrow-minded. The truth lies with the combination of player attitude, skill, coaching attitudes, and managerial decisions.
You see it while he’s dancing/running in place like a six year old on a sugar high. You see it with each and every player lining the top of the dugout steps. You see it in the heartfelt speeches and the playful slaps. You see it on the monstrous home runs and deadened bunts. The Rangers are a little different.
Ron Washington has helped develop a loose, playful, energetic, and determined team. His combination of reliance on good ‘ol fashion American League power and classic National League strategy can really only be compared to Mike Scioscia’s Angels. But for his succes, Wash is a man who’s also faced his fair share of struggles.
A slip-up. A simple mistake. A one time mistake by Washington’s account. That’s all it took to threaten his job and his life. Washington knew nothing besides baseball. If a failed drug test, a positive result for cocaine he had used at a party, were to take his job, what would Washington do? Well, it didn’t. He admitted the mistake, faced the music, was destroyed in the media, and supported by his team. That’s who he is – a man who makes mistakes but does right by people. In turn, they do right by him.
With his job still firmly in his grasp, Wash led the Rangers to the World Series in 2010 and again here in 2011. He has done so not by abiding by sabermetric formulas or statistics. He has done it his way. Through hunches, motivation, and support. He’s the biggest cheerleader in the dugout, un-afraid to show emotion like most managers are. He’ll tell you what you did wrong with some inspirational words and a pat on the rear end. He manages with passion.
And he is often criticized still. But that doesn’t matter. Ron Washington can continue to manage the way he wants. His success speaks for itself.