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What they're saying about Ron Washington

Mar 18, 2010, 8:30 AM EST

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.

  1. willmose - Mar 18, 2010 at 8:45 AM

    Boy, I’m just glad he didn’t take PEDs. The thought of the manager hitting all those HRs would be too much to bear. The response I’ll interested in is Keith Hernandez’s. As a guy who used to snort the foul line on occassion his insight would be truely useful.

  2. Patrick - Mar 18, 2010 at 8:46 AM

    I agree quite strongly Craig, with one thought that isn’t really even a quibble…
    I’m bothered about the blackmailing and the handling of it.
    What are your thoughts on it? Principle says that perhaps they should’ve simply come clean and not submitted to the blackmailers demands. But that seems a bit nieve.
    Still, it’s a nasty, and interesting, wrinkle in all of this.

  3. Jonny5 - Mar 18, 2010 at 8:57 AM

    Well ,I know you’ll hate the whole comparison I’m ready to do but here goes anyway. Of course you feel this way, as do I. If you feel McGuire should be allowed to move on as a manager that this guy really deserves to as well. Mark was part of a whole larger issue where he not only took illegal drugs, but he also sytematically cheated on a constant basis. He cheated fans(not so much it is entertainment), record holders, and opposing teams by taking drugs that obviously put the ball over the wall more often than when he wasn’t using. Did it make him a better batter? Absolutely. Was it cheating? absolutely. What Washington has done doesn’t even compare, yet Mark is off the hook for it. Not in the public opinion sense of course. But by MLB? Absolutely off the hook, as he has pretty good job in MLB.

  4. Robert - Mar 18, 2010 at 8:57 AM

    Interesting that nobody brings up how this will affect his relationship with Josh Hamilton.

  5. OsandRoyals - Mar 18, 2010 at 9:02 AM

    Thinking about it I think they had to keep Washington as long as he agreed to intense drug testing and counseling. The Rangers have Josh Hamilton who was addicted. As long as Washington isn’t really using the organization has to send the message that they will help their employees. I suspect that most firms have a drug policy where if you come forward you will get help, which the Rangers have done.

  6. Jamie - Mar 18, 2010 at 9:04 AM

    I think Josh Hamilton’s comments are the most valuable. A lot of people have the distorted notion (I blame D.A.R.E. programs and after-school specials) that anyone who ever uses drugs is an addict in need of rehabilitation. Josh Hamilton has a chronic medical condition; Ron Washington had a fun weekend. Huge difference.

  7. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Mar 18, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    What Washington has done doesn’t even compare, yet Mark is off the hook for it. Not in the public opinion sense of course. But by MLB? Absolutely off the hook, as he has pretty good job in MLB.

    To quibble just a bit, but isn’t Washington off the hook as well? I haven’t read anything about him being disciplined and/or suspended by MLB (shouldn’t he be?). So they only punishment he’s received, so far, is humiliation via the public.
    [note: I’m not too familiar with MLB’s drug rules, but do they treat illicit drugs the same as PEDs? The NFL suspends people for either usage, is MLB the same?]

  8. (Not That) Tom - Mar 18, 2010 at 9:38 AM

    Neyer’s spot-on: the sanctimoniousness we have towards alcoholism is nowhere close to the sanctimoniousness we have towards drug users. It’s amazing that Billy Martin, an unabashed alcoholic jackass that probably ruined more clubhouses than he fostered, is considered by some to be a Hall of Fame manager yet a guy like Washington, who by all accounts is a great guy that admitted to a one-time transgression, is castigated and treated like a social pariah.

  9. Joey B - Mar 18, 2010 at 9:52 AM

    Of course, it should be noted that alcohol is legal, and that there is a drug war in Mexico that is killing thousands and undermining the government. American use of drugs is funding that war.

  10. Joey B - Mar 18, 2010 at 9:56 AM

    1-I think a suspension is due. I think whatever the penalty for the players is should likewise be applied to Washington.
    2-Past that, I don’t think anything else is warranted, except ongoing testing. I’d prefer not to live in a society where every transgression results in a catastrophic punishment.

  11. Jonny5 - Mar 18, 2010 at 10:06 AM

    “To quibble just a bit, but isn’t Washington off the hook as well? I haven’t read anything about him being disciplined and/or suspended by MLB (shouldn’t he be?). So they only punishment he’s received, so far, is humiliation via the public.”
    Yes he is, I was kinda pointing to those freaking yesterday and some quoted above who feel he should have been canned instantly. Ahem! Taylor. I strongly feel this guy should have another shot. Mcguire? I don’t care one way or the other.

  12. JE - Mar 18, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    Forgive me, but how do we know for certain that it was just a “fun weekend” and there were no other occasions of cocaine use?

  13. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Mar 18, 2010 at 10:16 AM

    Ah, gotcha. I stayed out of that disaster of an article once I saw people playing the race card, and all sorts of ridiculous comments about how to punish drug users.
    @JE

    Forgive me, but how do we know for certain that it was just a “fun weekend” and there were no other occasions of cocaine use?

    Because he only got caught once, ergo he only did drugs once. Just like the steroid users who just did it one time to get healthy. (just kidding, sort of)

  14. Simon DelMonte - Mar 18, 2010 at 10:36 AM

    My main question is whether managers and coaches should be treated the same way as players are in this kind of case. A player would have been suspended. It seems fair at first thought that a manager would be suspended as well. I guess we could also ask how a major league team in any sport would treat a non-athlete in the same case. If a PR man or a secretary or an usher violated the law, would he or she be fired or disciplined? What rules apply to managers?
    It’s also interesting that managers and coaches are subjected to drug tests. Is this an MLB policy? If so, why? It’s not that anyone wants managers using illegal drugs, but if the chief fear these days is PEDs, why include non-players in the testing?

  15. Joey B - Mar 18, 2010 at 10:54 AM

    “It’s also interesting that managers and coaches are subjected to drug tests. Is this an MLB policy? If so, why? It’s not that anyone wants managers using illegal drugs, but if the chief fear these days is PEDs, why include non-players in the testing?”
    It could interfere with his judgement. Maybe he comes in after a long road trip feeling completely ‘energized’ and decides to hold an extra-long practice even though his players don’t have the same energy. Maybe an SP stays in for 135 pitches rather than 120 because the manager’s confidence is running high. Maybe he runs through his salary and decides he needs to supplement it. Maybe one of the players on the team figures if it’s okay for the manager, then it is okay for the players.

  16. Mike - Mar 18, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    One question I haven’t seen answered. How did the news of this get leaked? If you’re the players association, does this make you trust the owners even less(if that’s even possible?)

  17. Craig Calcaterra - Mar 18, 2010 at 11:18 AM

    According to the blackmail story, the ex-Rangers employee tipped a “national reporter.” That sounds to me like the blackmailer told Jon Heyman when his demands were not met.
    I assume Heyman wasn’t aware that the guy was blackmailing the Rangers, of course.

  18. JE - Mar 18, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    Craig,but why do you think the Rangers balked at a letter of recommendation for the blackmailer after apparently satisfying other requests? I have heard several anecdotes over the years of employers having no issue with LoRs even when an employee was getting canned.

  19. Craig Calcaterra - Mar 18, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    Good question. All of this sounds bizarre to me. Could have been one of those deals where they caught themselves after the fact and said “you know, we shouldn’t have done X, and we won’t do Y now.” Could be that the Ft. Worth reporter has it wrong at that they never did anything.
    Just a lot of unknowns here.

  20. monkeyball - Mar 18, 2010 at 12:55 PM

    Boy, yeah, calling for Wadhington to be fired — by the team whose one-time owner had an acknowledged alcohol problem and an alleged/unacknowledged-but-winked-at coke problem? Ok.

  21. Joey B - Mar 18, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    It also could be the last straw. Maybe it started off free box seats, and now maybe the guy is calling up every week, and the Rangers came to the conclusion that, rather than stopping, it was escalating.
    It might also depend on the LoR. Saying John Doe worked here without incidence for 5 years is probably okay, but the guy might’ve wanted a completely cheated-up job description. Getting an LoR to be director of training when the guy was nothing more than a weight-spotter could ruin the Rangers reputation, and could be the basis for litigation should someone get hurt.

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