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Rangers manager Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine last year

Mar 17, 2010, 1:52 PM EDT

Ron Washington.jpgWow:

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine during the 2009 season, SI.com has learned. Washington, 57, has been subject to increased drug testing since his
failed test, which was administered by Major League Baseball last July,
and he has passed all of his subsequent tests. In deciding to support
Washington and retain him as manager, the Rangers accepted his apology
as heartfelt and also his explanation that this was a one-time
transgression.

I just finished reading a book called The Pittsburgh Cocaine Seven by Aaron Skirboll. It won’t be released for several months, but when it comes out you’ll definitely want to read it.  It details the Pittsburgh cocaine trials of 1985 and the crazy, coke-filled years Major League Baseball experienced leading up to them.

Ron Washington played during the years chronicled in that book. Between the time frame of his heyday and that of the book, my first impression of this news it to be skeptical of the “one-time transgression” language of the team’s statement.  How many people try
coke for the first time at age 57?  Especially those who worked in an environment absolutely lousy with cocaine for so many years of their youth?

That said, I like Ron Washington as much as the next guy, and I’m happy to see that he has passed subsequent testing.  I’m also pleased to see the Rangers give him another shot rather than do the easy thing, which would be to cut him loose. By all accounts he’s been a loyal guy and his players are said to like him. People deserve second chances.    

  1. Craig Calcaterra - Mar 17, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    On the one hand, the anti-drug sanctimony of most of these comments disappoints me. On the other hand, I’m somewhat happy to see that the people who are so adamantly against steroids are consistent with their “it’s TEH ILLEGAL DOOD!” rhetoric when it comes to coke.
    Consistency is my drug of choice: gets me higher than a kite.
    “badmouth works”

  2. glenn - Mar 17, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    anyone that tries cocaine at age 57 has been doing it in the past and deserves to be fired and jailed. smoking tobacco is totally different then the word cocaine. you need to get a life. I know, you are coach Washington some crack together in his office after each home game.

  3. Mickey.the.Mac - Mar 17, 2010 at 2:58 PM

    If this burned out hippie, Ron Washington, can inhale coke and keep his job or better yet not be BANNED from MLB. Then Pete Rose can be allowed in the HOF! Gambling, and Drug Use are both ILLEGAL, you can’t condemn one without the other! Reinstate Rose!!!!!!!

  4. glenn - Mar 17, 2010 at 2:58 PM

    anyone that tries cocaine at age 57 has been doing it in the past and deserves to be fired and jailed. smoking tobacco is totally different then the word cocaine. you need to get a life. I know, you are coach Washington some crack together in his office after each home game.

  5. Mark - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    A one-time trangression doesn’t mean he never used before. It can mean he hasn’t used in a long time and this was a transgression from the new life he adobpted since he previous use. Or he could be a regular user. No one knows.
    The self-righteousness of some of these posts is amazing. He shouldn’t be fired if he’s an addict he should be helped. Maybe that means he can’t manage (again if he even has a problem which none of us know) but can we show a little compassion? If every person in a position of leadership was required to step down because of such trangressions we would run out of people in positions of leadership pretty quickly. Get off your high horse and join the rest of us flawed humans in reality.

  6. adam - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    when I read the headline, I was hoping it was the NY Rangers…

  7. Jonny5 - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    This is true. I’m sure the guy doesn’t party with him. I doubt this was a first time deal, but hey, he got his smack on the wrist and I’m sure he’s learned his lesson. The funny thing is, this is a tough drug to test for since it leaves the body in 24 hours or so. So I’m sure this is one drug that’s pretty well used in MLB because of the effect vs. chance of getting caught ratio is like way, way in the users favor. It’s like greenies i’m guessing. It’ll keep you from yawning, that’s for sure.

  8. Jack Marshall - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:07 PM

    Josh: your comment is ignorant beyond belief. 1) You can’t have management in any field breaking the law. 2) Leadership positions have to be role models, and taking a stand against addictive, performance-altering drugs is essential. 3) As Manager, Washington is responsible for keeping a former addict and a key player, Josh Hamilton, grounded and focused. He can’t do that if he’s advocating the use of banned substances by his own conduct.
    Calling any the role of a leader of a team “trivial” is proof positive of delusion or separation from reality. Your comment does indicate that sensitivity to racism has filtered down to the generally clueless, however, and that’s all to the good.
    I agree that it is fair and reasonable to give Washington a second chance, noting that in my experience and observation, most people who get second chances need a whole lot more than its practical to give.

  9. Mike - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:09 PM

    Passed all recent tests? Does anybody realize the short time period that cocaine stays in one’s system? Obviously not. Cocaine can be completely flushed from one’s system within 48 hrs. He was UNLUCKY that he was tested within 2 days of snorting. If you think that was a one-time transgression, you are in la-la land. He just got caught. I’m sure he’s warned well in advance now of when he will be tested.
    They should cut him loose…..now.

  10. Steve - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    Excuse me but some of you people need to climb down off your high horse (no pun intended) and stop making judgements about issues you which you have no clue. If Ron Washington’s employer is giving him a second chance then that is between the two parties and has absolutely no bearing on you. You may sit there and complain about broken laws, and failed drug testing but the reality is, it has nothing to do with you. You take care of your house and let the Rangers and MLB take care of the players and managers. It’s been my experience in the 52 years of my life (and others) that the people with the biggest horn to blow are the ones with just as much guilt as the target

  11. Jake Ryan - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    The reason Mexico is close to collapse is because of the Drug Cartels. That supply is destined for the USA. Its almost become Patriotic NOT to do drugs. Besides the negative effect it has on your body, its just plain stupid and costly.

  12. lindav92683 - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    Are ALL of you guys crazy? Isn’t it possible that the positive was a false positive? Or maybe a mixed up sample? I think that after so many years in the business being clean, and testing clean afterwards, it is a witch hunt.

  13. Phil - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    On the one hand, the anti-drug sanctimony of most of these comments disappoints me. On the other hand, I’m somewhat happy to see that the people who are so adamantly against steroids are consistent with their “it’s TEH ILLEGAL DOOD!” rhetoric when it comes to coke.
    It’s not just disappointing, it borders on frightening. Where does the venom come from? These people do not know the individual, the circumstances, the background and, pretty obviously, the drug involved. Yet it’s like a rerun of The Ox-Bow Incident every time the subject comes up.
    The consistency isn’t comforting either. As Emerson said, “Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.” This drug, and all others, should be legal and regulated. All the “War on Drugs” (like another famous sound-bite war) is good for is wasting tax money and giving bloviating politicians something to look tough about when they are up for re-election.

  14. APBA Guy - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    Looks like I’m late to the party, but here’s my observation.
    Old Gator is right, as usual, in that Ron’s job is not like your job or mine. If we had an unusual job skill, say hedge fund manager, we could use piles of cocaine and be praised endlessly as long as we made tons of money, or continued to be extraordinarily successful, and we could buy our way out of any legal problems. Being ordinary means you can’t fail a work related drug test or you will be fired. That’s reality.
    Second, I love the comments “he’s an addict” and “he should be in jail”, etc. Here in California, our jails are so crowded with guys imprisoned for simple possession that we are under Federal court order to release early. We still throw guys in jail for doing what Ron did, if they’re caught by the police, despite also having ample evidence that jail for first time drug offenders is less curative than intervention programs, is far, far more expensive, and leads to things like federal oversight of the prison system.
    Third, the comment that Ron won’t make it to 60 if he’s using coke at 57 is interesting. Before it was an illegal narcotic, cocaine was legally dispensed primarily to the elderly because it gave them energy. What do you think the Coca in Coca-Cola was originally? The legislative groundswell that led to cocaine being declared an illegal substance was largely the “offensive” sight of so many old ladies stumbling around outside their homes after the coke had worn off. True facts. I’d say look it up but many of you come from places where history books have deleted all references to troubling facts or people, like Thomas Jefferson.
    Lastly if Ron doesn’t make it to 60 it won’t be because of coke. Have you ever seen how much he smokes? Although, the combination of the two does seem to be keeping his weight down.

  15. Daniel G - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    I find it funny how people see a comment and then block everything else out as they prepare their response. When someone starts off with “First, cru11: that’s racist.” That tends to mean they are responding to another comment. Followed up by the very next comment, by Craig Calcaterra stating, “I’ve deleted cru11’s comment. Dude: cut it out. I don’t want to see that kind of crap around here.” Tends to inform people that unless you saw what the first person was responding to you have absolutely no idea if the statement was racist or not. So for anyone to question his view on if the comment was racist or not needs to get off their high horse, as it was obviously bad enough to be deleted.
    Second: Who cares if the drug is illegal or legal, the bottom line is that it is the organizations responsibility to determine who they want to employ. Just because your work would fire you tells me you are not that valuable of an employee, because if you were extremely valuable they would not fire you over one incident like this. As for the drug being illegal that is for the justice system to determine a punishment not the Texas Rangers or anyone else here, unless you happen to be the DA for the area.

  16. jonesy - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:21 PM

    NOTHING WRONG WITH SOME RAILS TO GET THE PARTY STARTED!!!
    CARVE EM UP BRUTHA!!

  17. Phil - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    Man, you are way too rational for this crew.

  18. Joe L - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:24 PM

    Everyone seems to me missing the point here, which IS NOT that a guy used drugs. It’s that we’re being told, with a straight face, that a FIFTY-SEVEN YEAR OLD PROFESSIONAL IN A HIGHLY-VISIBLE AND MEDIA-SATURATED INDUSTRY apparently used a seriously-hardcore drug for the FIRST TIME EVER at age 57.
    If true, sure he deserves a second chance. I am as anti-drug as anyone (I truly loathe illegal drugs), but the drug laws in this country are nonsensical and arbitrary, and have the effect of unfairly figuratively tarring-and-feathering a drug user for the rest of his or her life. Drunk, and you’re “colorful.” Smoke a joint, you’re satan incarnate. It’s silly. So, if the Rangers are OK with Ron, then I’m OK with him too.
    But the interesting question is how in hell did he stumble into using coke for the first time at age 57? I’m sorry, but that simply cannot be true. And that is why it’s an interesting story.

  19. Alan - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    If this society treated drug use not as a moral issue but as a MEDICAL one, WHICH IS WHAT IT IS, we’d have a whole lot less sanctimony (and, probably, a whole lot less drug use).

  20. Charles Gates - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    I’d chime in, but you said it better than I would have.
    I’ll just point out, though, that OldNo7 made the remark I think you were citing, not Old Gator.

  21. james - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    Have you seen the Rangers play late in the season? I’d test positive for any drug I could get my hands on if I had to manage them!

  22. Spring - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:30 PM

    Mike it sounds like you know all about the flushing for tests … when was the last time that you did. He does not deserve to lose his job … he is doing a great job!

  23. Jaime - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    I sick and tired of hearing about people and there drug problems, If I was caught useing drugs my a.. would be in jail and if I was lucky to get out I wouldn’t be able to get a job. I guess people that make make a lot of money don’t care if they get caught. If they have money to throw away I know a few people that can use some.

  24. APBA Guy - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:33 PM

    Thanks…I think…

  25. don in dallas - Mar 17, 2010 at 3:33 PM

    Ron Washington admitted his use today in the news conference, so your defense is silly. I understand that to test positive for cocaine, you must have used it within seven days (roughly), so this is an awful coincidence if it was his “first time.”
    The real question is the viability of a manager telling his 21 year old shortstop to be responsible when he has this on his own resume. His effectiveness as a leader has been destroyed. The Rangers will be forced by circumstances to fire him (he will “resign”) before the season begins.

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