Commentary

Ron Washington seizes responsibility

Like a good leader, Rangers manager embraces blame for players' late collapse

Updated: October 10, 2012, 8:31 AM ET
By Jean-Jacques Taylor | ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington showed us Tuesday why his players continually rave about him.

[+] EnlargeRon Washington
Cal Sport Media/AP ImagesRon Washington said he may have played his Rangers "into the ground," but other clubs used players just as frequently.
Washington showed us why they play so hard -- except for you-know-who during the season's last three weeks -- for him and why they buy whatever the manager sells.

It's because Washington credits the players for everything that goes well and eagerly accepts the blame when things go poorly.

He did it again at the Rangers' end-of-the-season news conference.

Washington said he's spent the past few days wondering if he played his starters too much in September. The Rangers had seven players participate in 140 games or more; five played more than 150.

Of course, Michael Young was a designated hitter 72 times, Adrian Beltre did it 23 times and David Murphy either pinch hit or was the DH a total of 23 times.

"Maybe I played them into the ground," Washington said when asked if he would do anything differently this season.

"My regulars were healthy and they were able to go out there, but if I can look back now, maybe I could have done something in the middle of the season where I could have given them some time down. My everyday guys, I rode them, man."

The Rangers didn't lose because they were physically tired. It's baseball season and baseball players are supposed to play baseball.

The New York Yankees had four players play at least 140 games, and if Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira had been healthy all year they would've had six.

The Chicago White Sox had six players with 140 games. So did the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians.

The White Sox and Royals had at least four players with more than 150 games.

Prince Fielder played 162 games and hit 30 homers. His teammate, Miguel Cabrera, played 161 games and captured the first Triple Crown in 45 years. Derek Jeter played 159 games and led the American League with 216 hits.

So can we stop with the poppycock.

Washington's job is to position his players to succeed. For much of the season, they did. In September, the players failed Washington and themselves.

That said, Washington did exactly what he promised to do on the day Jon Daniels announced him as manager: He vowed to protect his players and have their back.

Washington took the hit for Josh Hamilton quitting the last three weeks. And for the inconsistent seasons from Ian Kinsler, Mike Napoli, Nelson Cruz and Young.

[+] EnlargeJosh Hamilton
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezJosh Hamilton's late performance would suggest otherwise, but Ron Washington insists his Rangers didn't quit.
Washington took responsibility for a bullpen gone awry because of injuries and inconsistency, and for a black hole in the rotation's fifth spot.

But that's what the best managers do. They accept full responsibility for their team's performance in an authentic manner.

Still, the Rangers lost nine of their last 13 games, including the last four. They had an epic collapse, blowing a four-game lead with six to play.

They choked.

And it doesn't matter whether you believe they were physically tired or bored with the monotony of the regular season.

Bottom line: They failed.

Washington, the best manager in franchise history, has led the Rangers to 90 wins each of the past three seasons. Twice, he has taken the Rangers to the World Series. Last season, as we all know, they were one strike away -- twice -- from winning a title.

He has a .574 winning percentage the past three seasons (279-207) and .535 overall in six seasons (520-452).

"Each year you learn something," Washington said. "What was the reason we weren't clicking down the stretch? Everybody tried to say, 'Well, they quit.' There's no quit in that clubhouse. That's out. We just didn't get it done. We just didn't get it done."

The Rangers will spend the next few months figuring out just how much cash to offer Hamilton, so he can turn it down. They'll get to work on improving the rotation and putting together a bullpen.

But they have right man managing the team. The way he's handled the sudden end of the season has removed any doubt.

"Wash preaches accountability, so he's taking accountability," Daniels said. "It's not on him any more than any other person. We had a very good year, but we had a bad finish. Overall, I was pleased with the job Wash did and will continue to do as our manager."

Jean-Jacques Taylor joined ESPNDallas.com in August 2011. A native of Dallas, Taylor spent the past 20 years writing for The Dallas Morning News, where he covered high schools sports, the Texas Rangers and spent 11 seasons covering the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a general columnist in 2006.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

ALSO SEE

MORE MLB HEADLINES