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Josh Hamilton, Ron Washington draw blame for the Rangers’ early exit

Oct 6, 2012, 12:12 AM EDT

Josh Hamilton AP

I maintain that the Rangers are baseball’s most talented team. That they’re done after one wild card game falls mostly on the shoulders of Josh Hamilton and the shortcomings of manager Ron Washington.

Hamilton’s struggles are well chronicled. In the Rangers’ final nine games — seven of which proved to be losses — he went 10-for-39 with no homers, 16 strikeouts and no walks. He also made a big error in Wednesday’s defeat that gave the AL West to the A’s and relegated the Rangers to the wild card.

Tonight’s performance didn’t come with any defensive miscues, but it may have been the ugliest of the bunch. Hamilton grounded into a double play on the very first pitch he saw. He made another first-pitch out later, and he twice struck out on three pitches. Four at-bats, five outs, eight pitches.

Washington’s in-game management leaves much to be desired — Tony La Russa ran circles around him in the World Series last year — but one can live with that if his players respect and play hard for him. The way Hamilton mailed it in at the end and laughed off Washington in the dugout after Wednesday’s error doesn’t speak well for him and doesn’t speak well for Washington’s leadership. Perhaps it’s just one player. Perhaps it isn’t.

Still, Washington has blind spots. It’s one thing that Washington thinks Michael Young can still hit. After all, Young did bat .338 last season. It’s another thing that Washington has somehow been fooled into thinking he’s worth playing in the infield.

Washington also believes Elvis Andrus is good enough to bat second in the AL’s best lineup, yet he constantly has him put down sacrifice bunts ahead of two of the game’s best hitters. Andrus led the league in the category this year.

Now tonight’s loss was a team effort. Washington shouldn’t have gone to Derek Holland in the seventh, but it only cost Texas one run at the most in what ended up being a 5-1 game. Hamilton’s 0-for-4 still looms large, particularly since the two guys ahead of him both had two hits, but cleanup man Adrian Beltre had the same line. Unless Washington was the one who told Rangers hitters to go up hacking against Joe Saunders, he’s not responsible for the futile effort.

But the Rangers have come up short with a very talented roster three straight years now. I imagine the early exit makes it a whole lot less likely that Hamilton will be brought back after he hits free agency this winter. Washington almost surely will return, but it might be for the best if he’s set free, too.

  1. ninjasports - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:17 AM

    ALDS Preview –>

    • Gardenhire's Cat - Oct 6, 2012 at 9:16 AM

      Go away.

  2. pike573 - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:18 AM

    Needs some editing.

  3. dalucks - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:19 AM

    Typical media. Overreacting and second guessing after every lose. How about the pitching staff let the team down? Honestly, we do not want to read your whinning. I regret wasting my time reading this article but I thought there might be some quality information in this article but I was wrong. Thanks for nothing.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:26 AM

      And now you have wasted all of ours, so that’s pretty much even steven. Except it’s Matthews job to write his post. What’s your excuse?

    • abbeyleeishot - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:04 AM

      Take your epic fail like a man…

    • trollintrollintrollin - Oct 6, 2012 at 3:56 AM

      it’s God’s punishment for chewing tobacco. Read the Bible. Geez.

    • proudlycanadian - Oct 6, 2012 at 7:05 AM

      Arlington! We have a problem! We need a new manager.

    • rarson - Oct 6, 2012 at 10:52 AM

      Overreacting? So I take it you didn’t read the article at all.

  4. ezthinking - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:20 AM

    But the Rangers had a higher WAR than the Orioles. How could this happen?

    • thefalcon123 - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:34 AM

      But the Nationals had a higher batting average, more home runs, more runs scored, more wins and a lower ERA than the Houston Astros, but still lost to them on April 19th. Did I just disprove all of those statistics too?

      • ezthinking - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:42 AM

        No. But you do know WAR is made up, right?

      • crabcakesfootball - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:17 AM

        So your saying WAR what is it good for?

      • ezthinking - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:29 AM

      • proudlycanadian - Oct 6, 2012 at 7:04 AM

        Edwin Star had the definitive statement on WAR!

      • paperlions - Oct 6, 2012 at 8:51 AM

        ez, all statistics are just made up. Every one. There is no such thing as a naturally occurring baseball statistic.

    • trollintrollintrollin - Oct 6, 2012 at 3:57 AM

      WAR is for the fat kids who could never make the team.

      • wlschneider09 - Oct 6, 2012 at 10:03 AM

        Has it really come to this? Sabers are just as troll able as phitins and ants fans?

      • wlschneider09 - Oct 6, 2012 at 10:07 AM

        Or nats fans. I really hate typing on iPads.

        Although, I suspect ant fans are pretty trollabe too. “Six legs and you still can’t make it to first, lol.”

      • indaburg - Oct 6, 2012 at 11:22 AM

        Leave the ants alone! They’re pretty fast relative to their size. If your legs were only half a centimeter long, how fast would you run, huh, buddy?

      • trollintrollintrollin - Oct 6, 2012 at 5:17 PM

  5. randygnyc - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:26 AM

    The rangers have been in free fall for 3 weeks. This is good news for the rest of the playoff teams. No doubt the rangers can be dangerous. Hamilton is washed up with the rangers. He took his last weak hacks tonight. Good luck replacing his 44 homeruns next year.

  6. chill1184 - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:27 AM

    I can only imagine the Ranger blogs and local sports talk radio right now.

  7. jkb0162 - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:38 AM

    Didn’t understand a lot of Washington’s moves. Not using David Murphy until late in the game, pulling Darvish in the seventh with two outs, and going to Derek Holland. Even using Nathan in the ninth was questionable, given that he hasn’t been in that situation very often.
    As for Hamilton, well it’s been a nice run but we won’t be seeing him in a Rangers uniform next season.

  8. Marty - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:39 AM

    I don’t see how “baseball’s most talented team” chokes five games in a row because of the manager and a star player. One game yes, but real quality (the Giants for example) win with or without that LF bat.

  9. pantherpro - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:58 AM

    Nice gag you redneck tea party freaks! You get what you deserve with that moron governor of yours! Like the Cowboys you are losers! Most of America is very happy tonight!


    • Marty - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:03 AM

      Wow. Tell me you are a caricature of a dumbass.

      • nbjays - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:09 AM

        Nope… I’d say he’s the real thing.

      • verytalldad - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:13 AM

        Not many “Panther” teams in CA, but there is some in the south.

        I call troller. They didnt even spell California right.

        But it does feel good knowing George W. Bush went home disappointed tonight.

        Love this mad Nolan Ryan/W pic

    • abbeyleeishot - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:11 AM

      Why dont you leave politics out baseball and take it easy with the exclamation points ?

    • rarson - Oct 6, 2012 at 11:06 AM

      Nobody gives a crap about politics on this site. As they shouldn’t.

      As if one turd candidate is any better than any other.

  10. Francisco (FC) - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:03 AM

    Ranger’s fans we know how you feel! (Phillies in ’09, ’10, ’11). I have but one glass of good scotch and a poem from John Greenleaf Whittier to offer in commiseration:

    “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: it might have been!”

    • crabcakesfootball - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:15 AM

      I dont think Phillies fans know how they feel, the Phillies didnt make the playoffs.

      But in Philly fan style, the Rangers fans booed Josh Hamilton- classy.

      I think we learned there are some awful fans in Atlanta and Texas tonight. Beer and Booze and Bitterness.

      • Old Gator - Oct 6, 2012 at 8:26 AM

        Do we know if Craig smashed anything in his basement?

      • wlschneider09 - Oct 6, 2012 at 10:10 AM

        No word on the stuffed armadillo he brought home from spring training, but the prognosis is not good.

    • indaburg - Oct 6, 2012 at 9:13 AM

      At least you can comfort yourself with a WS win in 2008, FC. Rangers’ fans have no such comfort.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 6, 2012 at 6:36 PM

        Shhh! You’re ruining my narrative! :)

  11. nofunleague - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:16 AM

    They could have won one more game in May, or June and this game wouldn’t have been necessary. The whole team had a slump in Sept. Don’t blame Hamilton. That is just too convenient.

    • athletesfoot101 - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:32 AM

      The O’s bullied Texas tonight. Washington got out-managed, plain and simple.

      • tools17 - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:54 AM

        Washington probably needed a fix, to clam his nerves. I only used it one time, please forgive me.

  12. hardballtalkusername - Oct 6, 2012 at 2:06 AM

    I agree and have always thought that Washington was a terrible manager. I think the Rangers focus on signing Greinke (they love former Angels and need pitching) and let Hamilton walk.

  13. cur68 - Oct 6, 2012 at 2:10 AM

    “Washington’s in-game management leaves much to be desired — Tony La Russa ran circles around him in the World Series last year ” WTF? Did we watch the same series last season? I bet it was it the but where Tony had his reliever in for the intentional walk? Was that the circle? I guess so. Washington and the rest of the planet never saw that coming so I guess TLR circled us all. It was stunning last season how he out managed Washington: 4 games to none, right? Actually it wasn’t that, was it. It was 7 games they played. First time ever that’s happened, I do believe. So this “managed circles” thing…not very effective, is it?

    • APBA Guy - Oct 6, 2012 at 11:09 AM

      I agree with you, Cur, and want to add that there are many elements to being a successful manager, among them is the ability to motivate players. Despite their poor showing, there was no evidence of any hostility by the players directed at Wash or his staff. Compare the Ranger’s to last year’s Red Sox or this year’s Indians. You can always question a manager’s in game work when they lose. It’s natural and part of the fan experience.

      But for Wash, his greatest attributes as a manager are not the ones visible during a game, but they are the ones that get teams to play at a very high level. He was the A’s 3rd base coach for years, and the players loved him, much as they appear to in Texas also.

      That said, after a major disappointment like the Ranger’s fade this year, I expect there will be changes to the Rangers, possibly including a change at manager.

      The expectations there are very, very high, almost like the Yankees. Those high expectations often have unpleasant, unexpected consequences best illustrated by Chris Davis. Did anyone notice the way he and Michael Young were interacting last night when Davis was on first? Try to imagine those 30+ HR’s in the Rangers lineup this year, and then ask why they aren’t there. It’s because of “win now” and the conflict with that philosophy and Davis taking time to develop.

      So if Texas gives the hook to Wash and Josh and who knows who else, maybe they can replace those guys, maybe they can’t. But think about those moves in the context of Chris Davis.

    • indaburg - Oct 6, 2012 at 11:18 AM

      Rewind back to the 2010 ALDS. Rangers vs. Rays. Washington outmanaged Maddon in every aspect of the game. The Rangers killed the Rays by playing small ball. They out-Rayed the Rays. I still shake my head thinking about it. Washington won my respect. He was definitely underestimated then, and it looks like he’s being underestimated again. His team slumped. What do you do?

      • cur68 - Oct 6, 2012 at 11:39 AM

        It appears that according to Mathew, managing a ball team is being responsible for when guys who ordinarily hit & field well, don’t. What LaRussa did better than Washington was have players hit and field better. That isn’t “managing”. That’s your players producing when they need to and its among the many things that managers can’t control. A manager is supposed to, for the most part, get the talent and egos to work together, not mess with the player’s heads and decide when to send in another arm from the BP. For three seasons in a row, till mid Sept this season, the Rangers did that better than anyone, and suddenly Washington’s a bum. If Mathew paid any attention to what actually happened, and not his convenient story line, he might recall that the Cards SNUCK into the playoffs behind the collapse of the Braves last season AND players playing out of their minds, NOT Tony LaRussa doing some sort of Managerial Voodoo. If he was so effin awesome, where the hell were they for most of all last season? Washington’s taken his crew of ego driven prima donnas to the post season 3 years in a row and twice to the WS. LaRussa never did that. So, ergo, by any logic at all, Washington managed circles around Tony.

        Now, did you notice something? Showalter’s boys beat the Rangers, right? The last team to fire Buck was The Rangers. Guess who’s up next. The Empire. The team BEFORE the Rangers to fire Buck. Revenge is a dish best served Showalter.

  14. mybrunoblog - Oct 6, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    The Rangers collapse is complete. Here endeth the story.

  15. ballparkprints - Oct 6, 2012 at 8:46 AM

    First baseball is played on the field not a spread sheet (SABR Fans). Next how about giving the other team(s) credit! Everyone goes through a bad patch, for the Rangers it came at the wrong time. It happens this is why baseball is different from all other sports because any team can turn it on and win….

    • paperlions - Oct 6, 2012 at 8:59 AM

      Teams in every sport can turn it on and win. Last years SB champion Giants finished the regular season 9-7. The LA Kings were the 8th seed in the NHL playoffs and took home the cup.

      Something may make baseball different from other sports (the major difference appears to be that you only pay attention to baseball), but that sure as hell isn’t it.

      • ballparkprints - Oct 6, 2012 at 10:27 AM

        In baseball the defense controls the ball, good pitching / pitcher can take control of a game(s).

      • rarson - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:32 PM

        So the Kings weren’t the best team in the NHL at the time just because they were the 8th seed? Even though they destroyed everything in the postseason? The Giants just got lucky getting to and winning the Super Bowl?

        Yeah, teams can turn “it” on and win, but in order to do that, they have to have “it” in the first place.

  16. jayscarpa - Oct 6, 2012 at 8:52 AM

    Nolan Ryan will fire him if there are good options available.

  17. indaburg - Oct 6, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    The Rangers slumped at an inopportune time. End of story.

  18. dw3dw - Oct 6, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that his error on Wednesday “gave” the A’s the AL West–the Rangers had already blown a 5-1 lead when he made that error and the score was tied, and after the A’s took the lead on that error the game was still in reach until the 8th. Also, all the Rangers had to do was win one game of the final three in Oakland to clinch the division and they got swept–I think it is hard to put all of that on Hamilton’s shoulders.

  19. lessick - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    Both the Orioles and Rangers had a brutal July but here are their run differentials since August 1:

    Orioles +58
    Rangers +28

    The Orioles have been a much better team since plugging holes in their starting rotation and since calling up Machado to plug a big defensive hole at 3B.

    Blowing the four-game lead was the real problem; losing to the Orioles in a one-and-done is hardly the major upset that some are making it out to be.

  20. Kevin Gillman - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    The Orioles and Athletics are living proof that it doesn’t matter how much money you spend on the offseason to improve, but rather what you do on the field.

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