Saturday, September 6, 2014

My Favorite Wash Moment

It's hot in Texas and 2008 was no outlier.  Sports talk always broke away to football sometime around the All-Star break, which signaled the beginning of Training Camp for the more popular Dallas Cowboys.  Following a dismal 2007 with lackluster performance and the trading of one of the team's best players, the second season of Ron Washington's tenure as manager of the Texas Rangers started fairly well.  Michael Young was doing Michael Young things --Mr. Reliable.  Ian Kinsler was in the second season of his blossoming career, newcomer Josh Hamilton was lighting up the air above The Ballpark with monstrous homeruns, not to mention the All-Star Game Homerun Derby that would've made Babe Ruth smile, and Milton Bradley, not the board game, had a very solid All-Star year.  Sometime after the All-Star break, however, it started to unravel.  Kevin Millwood tried his best to be an ace, but it just wasn't to be.  Vicente Padilla, bless him, was partially retired from his Beanball incidents (but would later return to full form with another club), and neither was he the pitching savior the Rangers needed.

CJ Wilson was drafted in 2001 out of California, his home state, as an amateur pitcher.  In 2005 he made his Major League debut, made 6 starts and appeared in 24 games.  From 2006 through the 2009 season, CJ was exclusively a relief pitcher.  One of those seasons, 2008, ended abruptly for him, however.  On August 6, 2008 CJ came into a game against the Yankees and promptly loaded the bases and surrendered a grand slam.  Now, I can understand being mad, I would be, too.  But there are things that you can't do, and CJ tried to do one of those things when Washington came to the mound to make a pitching change.  Before Wash got to the mound, CJ tossed him the ball.  To the layman, it may seem like a simple exchange.  That's not the case.  In this situation, the manager will extend his arm, and the pitcher should hand him the ball.  Washington, in only his second season, having not endeared himself to the fans just yet, and definitely not the press, made a move.

CJ, having just tossed the ball to Wash, began to walk off the mound and past his manager.  Washington grabbed him by the arm and allowed him another chance to do the right thing.

Wash didn't have time to plan his move.  Instincts told Wash to stop CJ in his tracks.  It became a teachable moment for CJ, and became the reason I love Ron Washington.  A lot of Texas Rangers fans do not remember that, because, let's face it, their fandom doesn't predate the 2010 Playoffs.  CJ's year ended that night because he went onto the Disabled List and had to have elbow surgery to remove bone spurs.

Following the 2009 season CJ convinced Rangers management to allow him to train and compete for a starting job.  He bet on himself, it paid off, and for that I respect him.  He can be a bit mouthy, but so can I.  Washington went on to have multiple years of success with the Rangers and is beloved by the fan base and some of the media.  

It wasn't the times he tried to propel runners around third with his running motions from the dugout, it wasn't his "Wash-isms," and it wasn't his superior ability to teach fielding to young players.  It was when he taught "Ceej" to show a little respect.  I am really sad that Wash won't be the manager of my team anymore.

As the great Fall Out Boy once sang, "Thx fr th Mmrs."

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