THE CURIOUS CASE OF RON

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – It’s been three days since Ron Washington’s sudden and shocking announcement to resign as manager of the Texas Rangers. The announcement was made by the club with a statement from Washington that indicated he has a personal problem to deal with, and the best way to do so was to resign and take care of it. He closed the statement by saying “Please respect my privacy.” In other words, “I’m not telling what the problem is and don’t ask”.

General Manager Jon Daniels along with the two largest percentage owners of the team, Ray Davis and Bob Simpson, held a press conference Friday afternoon. They indicated that they had known about the situation with Washington for “weeks” and had discussed approaches to handling the situation, including a leave of absence. They indicated that Washington chose instead to resign immediately.

A first thought was a drug related situation as Washington tested positive for cocaine years ago, which came to light in spring training of 2010. Washington did authorize the team to say that the personal problem was not drug related.

Third base coach Gary Pettis, probably Washington’s closest friend on the coaching staff, told Channel 8′s George Riba that he hope Ron recovers and can return soon, which led many to believe that the problem is health related. However, team officials have assured local media that there is not a health problem for Washington or his wife Gerry. The couple have no children.

With those doors closed, the conspiracy theorist have thrown out many possibilities including a rift between Washington and Daniels. Over the years, Daniels has for sure become more involved in duties normally left to the manager. Daniels especially has been involved in hiring almost an entire new coaching staff over the past two seasons, with apparently little input from Washington. In fact among the current coaches, Pettis is the only one in which Washington had significant input.

The team said little about their intentions for their search for a replacement. Bench Coach Tim Bogar was named interim manager for the balance of this season. Bogar was a finalist for the Astros managerial job two years ago when Bo Porter was hired. With Porter’s recent firing, Bogar has been speculated as a serious candidate for that job again.

Many in the local media make Bogar the front runner for the job on a permanent basis. He certainly has a leg up on any candidate, save and except pitching coach Mike Maddux, from the standpoint of knowing the current personnel. Bogar managed the final three games of this weekend’s series with Seattle and got his first managerial win with a 1-0 victory on Sunday.

Washington leaves as clearly the most successful manager in Ranger history, indeed franchise history including the first 12 years in Washington. He has the most wins (664) as the Rangers had won at least 90 games in each of the last four seasons, a first in team history. After taking the team to the World Series twice, he has the most post season wins and playoff series wins, as Texas had won just one playoff game before Washington took over as manager.

This was Washington’s eighth season, and perhaps it was time for him to go anyway. He has always been more comfortable with a veteran team. He had few rules for his players, and younger players often need more discipline. It was certainly questionable as to whether Washington was the right man to rebuild this team into a contender with young players.

There also does seem to be some discord between Washington and Daniels, and Daniels may not be all that unhappy about seeing Washington leave without having to fire him. After eight years, the team may just be ready for a new voice at the top, though it’s more than evident that Washington is adored by most of the players, who professed one and all to be as shocked as anyone about the announcement.

In any event, Washington’s career in baseball does not appear to be over. He’s texted various people in the media that “I’ll be back”. It seems obvious though that if Washington returns to professional baseball that it won’t be with the Texas Rangers.

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