After the Rangers advanced to the World Series Friday night, Rangers manager Ron Washington celebrated like a proud father. He ran around the field and hugged his players and his coaches. He enjoyed being soaked in champagne/ginger ale.

There was no doubt he enjoyed the moment because he knows how fortunate he is to be in this situation. He could have been out of a job in March or at the end of April.

Sports Illustrated reported that the Rangers manager tested positive for cocaine last year in March. This resulted in him doing a press conference where he apologized to players and management for his actions, and he volunteered to resign.

Fortunately for him, Rangers president of baseball Nolan Ryan rejected Washington’s resignation. He decided to let his beleaguered manager manage until such time that the players gave up on him.

After a mediocre April, there’s no question Washington was up at night worrying about his job. The Rangers played better in May and from there, the team took off. The Rangers were good enough to the point they took a chance in Cliff Lee, and the rest is history.

Washington not only led his team to the playoffs, but he is now four wins away from winning a championship.

This is a good story. This is why we watch sports. We like seeing characters out of people. We like to see if a coach or athlete bounces back from adversity.

His ability to lead through distractions shouldn’t be surprising. He gained experience from it going back to his first year as the Rangers manager.

In 2007, the Rangers were off to a rough start. Washington and Mark Teixeira bickered about the Rangers hitting philosophy. The Rangers manager wanted his petulant player to take better at-bats and go play small ball.

Teixeira took exception when the Rangers manager questioned his approach, and he started pouting. He decided to have his teammates rebel against Washington, and Washington got himself into a mess.

It was either going to be Washington or Teixeira staying. There was no way Teixeira was going to coexist with Washington, and it’s hard to believe Washington would survive if Teixeira stayed on.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels traded Teixeira to the Braves. This gave Washington a chance to get his players back, and the guys played for him that year, despite a losing record.

The Rangers hired Nolan Ryan in 2008 to run the baseball operations. That means Daniels and Washington would have to do well in the 2008 season to have future employment.

Rangers got off to a rough start in April of 2008, and they were ready to fire Washington. If then-Rangers owner Tom Hicks was not out of the country to approve the firing, Washington would be looking for work now.

Washington bought himself some time when the Rangers won against the Twins the night he was supposed to be fired and from there, the team started to play better.

He received a short-term extension. There was no security. The message was Washington had to do it again in 2009.

He did just that when the Rangers had a winning record last year. Now, he will be getting a long-term extension from the Rangers after what he accomplished this year.

What helped Washington survive? His work ethic as a manager stood out. He taught his players how to play good baseball, and he molded the young players into stars.

Nelson Cruz, Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton and David Murphy are a good example of what Washington has done.

He never complained about how he was getting a bad deal from fans and several writers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He did his job, and he never worried about it.

He’s old enough to know managers and coaches come and go. Managers never have a happy ending when it’s their time to go. Joe Torre found out the hard way with the Yankees.

He did his job and players respected him for it by playing for him.

Now, everything worked out: The Rangers feel good for sticking with Washington, Washington feels good his work has paid off and the players love playing for Washington.

Is he a good strategist? Probably not. Which manager is today? All Washington can do is put his players in a position to succeed, and it has shown in the last few years.

Will he ever win over his critics? Probably not. There are always fans who love to play the role of manager after every loss. It makes them feel so important.

But no one can take away what he has accomplished as the Rangers manager. Whether he stays for a long time, who knows? If he wins a championship, this would be a great story.

Everyone is happy for him, and rightfully so. The man is a class act.

He is the type of person that anyone would love to be friends with. He is an inspiring figure when he talks.

Know what’s neat about him? He has fun at his job. Just watch his reaction throughout the postseason in the dugout. He’s intense in a fun manner. He hugs his player for every good play out there. He shows genuine reaction.

One can’t help but smile, especially after this writer watches Yankees manager Joe Girardi act smug in the dugout as if he invented the game of baseball.

Often times in sports, the bad guys come out victorious. When teams featured talented punks, they often win in sports. It’s no wonder why Leo Durocher says nice guys finish last.

In this postseason, nice guys can finish first, and Washington showed that.


This article originally appeared on The NY Sports Digest. If its off-beat and it’s about the Mets, Yankees, Knicks, Giants, Jets, Islanders, or Rangers, than The Digest is the spot to get it. Stop with the mega-sites and get a feel for the true pulse of New York at

Possibly Related Posts:

Read more MLB news on