Washington should be commended for his honesty
Rangers' winningest skipper deserves another chance to manage team
If folks around corporate America aren't paying attention to the guy with the always blunt tongue in Arlington, they should. The same goes for those in politics.
Come to think of it, are you studying Ron Washington? When it comes to crisis management, he is an accomplished master at responding the right way more often than not. That's because, as a longtime manager of the Rangers after years as a Major League player and coach, Washington has discovered the secret for handling these situations, and it isn't hidden deep somewhere at the bottom of a file cabinet on the far side of a basement.
It's called honesty. It's called admitting that you've been dealing with a personal soap opera before somebody else beats you to the juicy stuff. It's called digging inside of your soul to mention before cameras, microphones and those with notepads that you've made an awful mistake, and then you ask everybody for forgiveness as you move on with the rest of your life.
Drugs. Conflicts with players. Good games, bad ones. Now, infidelity.
"I made a mistake, and I'm embarrassed more than I've ever been in my life," Washington told those gathered at a news conference this week at a hotel meeting room in Irving, Texas. With his wife, Gerry, nearby, along with an attorney, Washington said the reason he abruptly resigned as Rangers manager in early September wasn't because of the team's sorry 53-87 record at the time, or because of a possible drug relapse, or because of whatever other Washington-related rumors might be circulating around the game.
As those in the room leaned forward, Washington added, "I was not true to my wife after 42 years. I broke our trust. I'm here today to own that mistake and to apologize to her, and to those I disappointed, and those who have trusted in me, and I let them down.
"Today, I'm at a very low time in my life. I'm sorry for breaking the trust that I had with my wife and for disappointing my players, for disappointing my coaches, disappointing Major League Baseball, and for disappointing the Texas Rangers. All I ask for is your forgiveness and your understanding."
This was powerful, because Washington took personal responsibility for his actions, and then he threw himself at the mercy of public opinion. He also did so in 2009 as Rangers manager when he tested positive for cocaine. He begged for forgiveness, and he even offered to resign. Instead, Texas gave Washington a two-year contract extension, and he proceeded to lead the Rangers to consecutive American League pennants after they previously hadn't captured any.
One thing about America: If you confess, and if you are sincere while doing so, your drama will become yesterday's news.
Take Washington's latest controversy, for instance. Courtesy of his news conference of three-and-a half minutes, it isn't a controversy anymore. The rest of this story mostly will involve Washington and his wife. From the public's perspective, he is just another human being trying to work through personal issues, because he did what he always does. Washington always delivers his feelings straight from the depth of his heart, and he does so quickly, without regard for how others may perceive him. His players love this approach -- and they should.
Derek Holland was among the most visibly shaken. In addition to calling the 62-year-old Washington a "father figure," he keeps a picture of Washington at his locker.
Washington wants to return, by the way ... if not to the Rangers as manager, then to the game in general.
"I was born to be a baseball player. I'm a baseball lifer," Washington said, delivering more truth from his gut.
Just like those who run the Rangers should keep Washington in the dugout for a ninth consecutive season.
The Rangers aren't saying they'll rehire Washington for sure. In fact, they aren't saying much of anything these days. They didn't want to overshadow his announcement this week. That said, even if the Rangers don't close the managerial door on Washington, they'll likely keep it open for others, too. Media reports are surfacing that interim Rangers manager Tim Bogar will get a chance to interview for full-time duty with the team after this season, and so will pitching coach Mike Maddux.