Who's the face of the Texas Rangers?
Quiet veteran leads by example
When it comes to the face of the Texas Rangers franchise, there are some pretty good choices:
But I'm going with veteran Adrian Beltre, who is one of the Rangers' critical leaders. He doesn't constantly talk -- but when he does, everybody listens. He is a tireless worker. If he's not in the cages, he's likely out taking additional grounders in batting practice just to keep his skills sharp.
No one questions Beltre's toughness. Last season, after experiencing pain in his abdomen from scar tissue left over from a previous surgery, Beltre played through the pain, even hitting a big home run in a big late September series with the Angels.
While Darvish is must-see television when he's on the mound, Beltre is the same on the field. His defensive play at third base is a work of art and it's something too many folks around baseball take for granted. Because Beltre plays every day -- and it takes a pretty major injury to force him out of the lineup -- it's easy to forget how great he is at his position.
Beltre has won consecutive Gold Gloves at third base, one of the tougher positions in the game. His style is unorthodox, as he flings the ball across the diamond flat-footed at times, but it's productive. Few in the game are better at charging a ball trickling down the third-base line and making that off-balance throw to first to nab a speedy runner.
And Beltre's bat has proven to be a major asset for the Rangers' offense. He hits cleanup in the order and hit .296 in 2011 and .321 last season and has had 68 homers in those two seasons with 207 RBIs.
His smile and the way he plays the game with so much fun has helped make him a fan favorite. Few players command more respect than Beltre.
So with the exit of Michael Young, I'm going with Beltre as the face of the franchise.
Manager makes Rangers baseball go
Who's the face of the Texas Rangers? The candidates are everywhere.
That's why I'm going with the one who represents the spirit and the personality of the Rangers -- manager Ron Washington.
Daniels and Ryan have made the moves that turned the Rangers into a perennial contender. Beltre, Andrus and Kinsler made some of the plays that put the Rangers in back-to-back World Series. Darvish took the franchise worldwide.
Washington is the one who makes them all go.
A lot of past Rangers managers have talked pitching and defense. Washington made it happen. A lot of them have talked about consistently winning. Washington did it.
That makes him the face of the franchise.
Think about the images of the playoffs in 2010 and '11. Many of them are of Washington in the dugout, waving his arms as the Rangers scored another run. Or his beaming smile after a home run.
Washington molded the Rangers into what they are. He said they would be aggressive on the bases, and they have been. Defense. Pitching. Wash Ball.
The Rangers are playing "Wash Ball" again this season. They have been relentless on the basepaths. Their best win of the season, a 3-2 victory over the Angels in Friday's home opener, was set up by a steal of second base by Craig Gentry when everyone in the ballpark knew he was going. Gentry stole the bag, as Wash would say, and Kinsler singled home the go-ahead run.
Washington is loved by Ranger fans. But like all managers in baseball, they often question his moves. Win or lose, in the fans' eyes, Washington always makes an impact.
Josh Hamilton was the face of the franchise. Andrus and Darvish get my vote as the most likely future faces of the franchise.
The face of this golden era of Rangers baseball? That's Ron Washington.
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Rangers manager Ron Washington joins Richard Durrett and Tim MacMahon to discuss the first week of the season, if he feels guilty when his team catches a break from the umpires, Elvis Andrus and much more.