Thursday, January 30, 2014
Young retires as an all-time Rangers great
By Richard Durrett
Michael Young might not make the Baseball Hall of Fame, although he has some impressive numbers. But his face would certainly have to be chiseled on any Texas Rangers Mount Rushmore.
Michael Young always seemed to do what was best for the Rangers, even switching positions to let youngsters like Elvis Andrus move up.
Young, who retired Thursday at 37 years old, was the face of the franchise for much of his career in Texas, leading by example. He was always there, it seemed, rarely missing a day of work. His average of 155 games played in his 12 full seasons and no trips to the disabled list -- that's right, none, in his career -- are proof of that. His locker was situated in a corner of the home clubhouse, but it might as well have been in the middle since it seemed like that's where the room gravitated.
There has been much made of Young's leadership. It didn't take long for manager Ron Washington to figure out that his team looked to Young for guidance on a host of issues. But lost in all the talk of Young's leadership is that he made sure that room wasn't just one voice in a group of leaders. Everyone felt free to speak his mind, and Young didn't necessarily speak up every time. He didn't have to.
Young was a prime example of what it meant to be a good teammate. He was asked on numerous occasions to move positions or change roles. And it wasn't as if the club was asking a fringe player to do it. Young was playing well at second base prior to 2004 when he moved to make room for Alfonso Soriano. He won a Gold Glove in 2008 and a few months later was asked to move to third base so that Elvis Andrus, who hadn't played above Double-A, could make his debut that upcoming season. And in 2011, one year after starting at third base for a team that went to the World Series, he shifted to designated hitter and a super-utility role so that Adrian Beltre could handle the hot corner.
Young was hesitant to move from shortstop to third base after the 2008 season and voiced his displeasure. But he later not only accepted the move, but became instrumental in helping Andrus make the adjustment to life in the big leagues. Upon reflection when he waived his no-trade clause and went to Philadelphia, Young said he regretted not accepting that move sooner.
Young's relationship with the front office was rocky, and Young even acknowledged after the 2012 season that he had "no relationship" with that group. But it never altered how he played on the field.
Young has plenty of terrific moments. He won a batting title in 2005. He ended a long streak without a postseason by popping corks in Oakland in September of 2010 and then got the chance to play in the playoffs for four straight seasons (2010, 2011 and 2012 with the Rangers and 2013 with the Dodgers). He was an All-Star MVP in 2006, one of seven times he was named as an AL All-Star.
All-Time Greatest Rangers
Where does Michael Young rank on the list of all-time greatest Rangers? GalleryBlog »
But I'll remember Young as the guy who was always there. It didn't matter if the club was going through a long losing streak or winning AL West titles. Young was going to face his teammates and the media.
When Washington faced his players at spring training in 2010 and told them about his failed drug test, Young didn't hesitate to stand up and back his skipper with all of his teammates watching. When the media was let in, Young fervently defended his manager. That helped the club move on quickly from what could have been a major distraction.
When you think of No. 10, you think of Young in a Rangers uniform. That's as it should be. He's one of the greatest Rangers to ever play the game.