I know that I went on a rant about this topic during the Rangers run-up to the playoffs ad the World Series last season. But as I have read the various message boards and have heard the pundits spew their nonsense out on the interweb, I can’t help but to address my frustration with Rangers’ “fans” again. However, it just seems that no matter what Ron Washington does or how well his team performs, there will always be some people that will find a reason to criticize him.
Since the day he arrived, people have hated on the man because they clamored for a big name ignoring the fact that a big name had just been here and Buck Showalter had done absolutely nothing but make the club house an uncomfortable place for everyone. He micromanaged the team so much that players dreaded playing for him and he wore out his welcome just as he had done in his two previous stops and as he will do during his tenure in Baltimore.
Fans wanted a hire that would make a splash yet in the club’s forty year history they've had the likes of Valentine, Martin and Williams and none of them did anything with this team. They kept up the status quo of power hitting without the emphasis on pitching and defense. And when we finally get a guy in here that places the onus where it has been neglected for so long, the "fans" trash the guy regardless of the success.
Another idea I find laughable is all the credit Nolan Ryan gets for "changing the culture." But have you critics actually paid attention to the time line?
Ryan came after the plan had been put in place by John Daniels and Wash and approved by Tom Hicks. Wash's knowledge and philosophy is what sold Daniels and Hicks on him. The decision had already been made to make pitchers work harder, improve the team defense and become aggressive to a fault. But Ryan comes in and suggests the pitchers go a little longer and all of a sudden he becomes the franchises' saving grace? Give me a break.
The credit should go to Daniels and Washington, with the residual oozing to Ryan like the end of a drunken sexual escapade.
You didn't go to the Cardinals or Dodgers and talk to Walt Jocketty or Frank McChord when the team is successful. You went Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre. They managed the game, good or bad. Yet when the Rangers do anything of significance we see the same tired assed face of Nolan Ryan and hear the accolades that he undeservingly gets.
The "fans" here can't seem to accept the fact that these guys play hard for their manager and each other. He is not some bus driver as some fans and media would like you to believe. So he makes mistakes--who among us hasn't? So he doesn't pull a pitcher when you want him to. Do you know what he and his staff are looking for in a player and if so what makes you so sure?
Something else I find peculiar about Rangers fans. When we hear about Bonds, McGwire, Clemens, Sosa and others using steroids, we consider them cheaters and want their records altered or removed from the game. We look at managers and ask ourselves "how could they not know what was going on?" And that is a valid question. When you have 25 guys immediately in your trust and you spend between 180-225 days together, as a manager you can’t help but stumble upon illegal activity in your clubhouse if there is any (see LaRussa and the Bash Bros). And unless Ryan left the stadium immediately after starts and headed back to Alvin only to reappear when it was his time in the rotation, he knew what was going on to.
Yet many people will, regardless of Washington does and has done, say that Oates is the best manager in the organizations, history even though under his watch, Arlington was ground zero for steroid use. He had at least five of the best hitters in the 90s on his teams and he didn't know anything? But fans and Rangers' brass will turn a blind eye and point to the three division banners blowing in the wind that will always be overshadowed by #38's ALCS crown.
I know many may not agree with this assessment and that is your prerogative. To some of you it won't matter what he does. I just wish we could cut the guy some slack and let him manage. No manager is perfect and you must have talent to win anything. It's not like Bobby Cox, Torre, LaRussa and Joe Girardi did it all from scratch. He could win a WS and you would still say it was all Ryan. But if Clint Hurdle had taken over the team and they still went to the WS and lost, who would have gotten the credit—Hurdle or Ryan?
Our skipper has improved every year since taking over and this year has gotten over his biggest stumbling block which has been the teams’ notoriously slow starts. He's gotten them to a point where they are relevant. Let's enjoy him and our team because I guarantee we’ll miss him when he’s gone.