Saturday, October 9, 2010
Texas Rangers' Amazing Escape from Adversity Embellishes Nice Story
They are riding amid an improbable pursuit, defining a miraculous tale no longer bombarded by a grim crisis. The Texas Rangers began a seemingly hopeless season in bankruptcy court, and became closer as a team when the news surfaced in spring training that Ron Washington had tested positive for cocaine. They built a social connection as a potent club and emerged into contention, which is heavily embraced as an ethical rebirth in baseball for a team that struggled in recent memory.
The idea, of course, that Texas is championship-caliber isn’t such a bad suggestion, especially when the Rangers overcame adversity this season. They are fueled by powerful hitting and belief within themselves, living more than an illusion but reality, as they are darlings in this erratic postseason. With all the poisonous aspects in the prior history of baseball, the league needs a beautiful tale to forge humankind and purity.
Regardless of their helpless struggles in the past, the Rangers erased the horrid memories and finally assembled a bottomless core. The pieces of the puzzle didn’t come together until the All-Star break, bringing in catcher Bengie Molina, pitcher Cliff Lee, infielder Cristian Guzman and outfielder Jeff Francoeur, the vital elements for a sensational chase in the ALDS.
The drastic turnaround of the Rangers is because of Jon Daniels’ shrewd roster transformations, and team president Nolan Ryan’s ability to uplift the landscape with his brilliant demeanor. Even when one of the respected managers in the game broke the rules, even when the franchise faced misery over the bankruptcy scandal and even when the franchise worried about the health status of Josh Hamilton, the Rangers somehow still managed to relieve turmoil.
The front office trusted in Washington and salvaged his managerial role, but an ordinary club would have canned the 58-year-old manager following a despicable admission that he had failed a drug test.
While the Rangers excel as a pesky contender, the consensus assumption is that retaining Washington was worth a risk as much of the hyperbole and gibberish relating to the oblivious drug testing had disappeared. It isn’t often (especially when he’s almost considered a senior citizen) that a manager admits to using coke.
By definition, baseball’s wrenched era happened a long time ago as well. In an age, when Major League Baseball had a suspicion of the strong use of cocaine, the hypocrisy and the lack of reaction dented the game and integrity. Back then, similar to what we are seeing now, it took baseball a long time before finally declaring a stern rule to prevent crimes.
But now, it is fun to watch the Rangers attempt the improbable and stun the world as underdogs, despite all the adversity circling the clubhouse. This clearly can be good for baseball—a kindhearted story. This clearly can be the greatest Rangers team in generations, if not franchise history. If there’s something impressive or alarming this postseason, it’s simply Texas taking a commanding 2-0 lead against the Rays in the ALDS.
And apparently, for the time being, the Rangers are the lone franchise that has never won a postseason series, with all three series previously materializing in the late 1990s against the Yankees. And now, the Rangers aren’t ridiculed for lousy droughts or an early collapse, but are connecting on timely hits. You’ve noticed the other night that they are building a productive pitching staff. And better yet, defense is emphasized and demanded by Washington, who led the Rangers to their first postseason berth in 11 years.
“All year we’ve tried to play baseball according to the way it’s been presented to us, which means you have to win all different ways,” Washington said Friday. “But I think as we move forward and things continue to fall into place, I think people will start changing their minds and their perceptions of the Texas Rangers.”
Many people have already changed their minds and suddenly believe.
Even if the Rangers have won only one playoff game in 39 seasons in Texas and 11 as the Washington Senators before clinching two wins in Tampa this week, this season has seen the dominance of the older veteran and slugger Vladimir Guerrero. The seducing element offensively, though, is Hamilton, a former drug addict and alcoholic who recovered and salvaged his career.
Had it not been for Ryan’s strong principles in giving second chances, the Rangers wouldn’t be contending for a pennant nor would there be a modest voice of inspiration from a manager as well respected as Washington. Had it not been for Daniels’ kindness to allow a renegade player into the organization, Hamilton wouldn’t be a primary candidate for the Most Valuable Player award. Few believe his MVP hopes were smeared by his recent rib cage injury, but others believe he’ll be granted the award.
But to some extent, holding on to Washington was a risky choice. From most standpoints, he was eventually forgiven and apologized to his players and executives, realizing the circumstances of his wrongdoing and handling the issue with class and dignity. When it happened so agonizingly, he was willing to resign, but the organization opted to keep the skipper who is sharp at grooming and mentoring young players.
Turns out, it is an understatement to deny the Rangers, a team armed with ardent hitters and players disciplined at every at-bat. There is an ultimate assumption they can elevate and eventually take control with veteran Michael Young, a six-time All-Star and the longest-tenured Ranger who rallies the team offensively. At this point, the Rangers' unthinkable turnaround isn’t a mirage in a year the emergence of a young team uplifts the most noticeable franchise in baseball. Indeed, the turning points, as the Rangers surge in the divisional rounds, have been Elvis Andrus, David Murphy and Ian Kinsler.
Nonetheless, the idea not to fire Washington was risky but smart. Ever since he told on himself, he has been tested several times a week. Without the regretful overseer, the Rangers wouldn’t have gone from 79 to 87, to a staggering 90 wins.
His honesty and bravery may have saved him of the managerial role. But even greater, the Rangers benefited in some ways and vanquished adversity.