To quote the man himself: That's just the way baseball go.
It goes quite well for the skipper of the Texas Rangers, as the front office recognized Ron Washington's enormous contributions to the club by rewarding him with a two-year contract extension that will keep Wash in the Texas dugout through the 2014 season.
To call this well deserved would be a bit of an understatement, because the Rangers have improved every single year under Washington's steady hand. The team won 75 games during his 'rookie' 2007 season.
The next year, they went to 79 wins, then 87, then 90 and 96, along with two American League Championships.
To take a club that had never won a playoff series before and to turn it into a powerhouse in the AL is nothing short of spectacular, and while there are plenty that deserve credit, there are few that deserve it more than Wash.
Hired away from Oakland at the end of the 2006 season to replace former manager Buck Showalter, who had more than worn out his welcome, Washington was brought in with the goal of being more of a players' manager. He was going to be a good influence in the clubhouse, someone the players loved to play for every single game of the year. He also had a plan to turn the team around from the free swinging, home run-dependent organization of the late 1990s and early 2000s to one that was stout on defense and would be a good-to-great pitching team.
During his tenure as the manager, he has done all of those things.
When the Rangers are asked about their manager, they respond with nothing but praise and respect for Wash, the latter of which grew greatly in August of 2008.
In one of the more memorable moments in his tenure as skipper, Washington went to retrieve then-relief pitcher C.J. Wilson after giving up a grand slam against the New York Yankees. In frustration, Wilson flipped the ball off the mound and began to storm off. The old-school baseball mind that he is, Washington halted him immediately and brought him back onto the mound. He handed Wilson back the ball, and in so many words told him to do things the right way.
Among players and fans both, it became a lot easier to support Ron Washington.
That's not to say the bond hasn't been tested, because during 2010 Spring Training we learned that Washington had failed a drug test in July of the previous year. He was very apologetic, and even offered to resign. However, club president Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels would not accept the resignation and elected to keep Washington.
It turned out to be a wise decision, as the club won its first-ever American League title that very year before repeating as AL champs in 2011. Washington emerged from the drug test scandal a new man, reborn in the public image as a flawed individual, but brilliant manager, who helped lead a downtrodden club to the baseball promised land two years in a row.
While this two year extension obviously shows a great deal of present faith in Washington, it could also help cement his place in all-time Rangers history.
Washington currently sits third on the list of games coached by a Rangers manager, with 843 combined regular and post-season games. This places him behind the late Johnny Oates (993 combined regular and post-season games) and Bobby Valentine (1189 games).
To tie Oates, Wash will need to coach 150 games in 2012. He is set to achieve that this coming September against the Seattle Mariners. Wash can surpass Valentine by coaching into the 2014 season, and can achieve it sooner if he takes the Ranges deep into the post-season the next two years.
Either way, the probability that he takes over as the longest tenured manager in club history is quite strong.
All offseason, Daniels said his focus was to lock up the core parts of the team to extensions in order to keep them in place for a long time. While the rumors of new deals for catcher Mike Napoli, outfielder Josh Hamilton and starting pitcher Derek Holland persisted all throughout the off season, Daniels might have secured his team's truest stabilizing force with his actions today.
No matter who is on the field for the next few years, the first face in the dugout will remain the same. That should be a comforting sight for anyone who wants to see the Rangers continue their recent success.
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