So Ron Washington failed a drug test for cocaine. Shame on him. But since the story broke, I’ve witnessed a man take responsibility and hone up to his mistakes better than any other sports figure of this generation. While most of these guys deny accusations for months, sometimes years, until their glass house of lies comes crumbling down, only THEN to make apologies and fess up to their misdeeds, Ron Washington submitted a dug test, notified the administrators he would likely fail it, and then proceeded to communicate with each party of interest what was going on. Wash has always been a mastermind on the field, but he showed me that he is one off of it too. This news surely would’ve outraged the media in most scenarios, but Wash has been one step ahead of the game the entire time. He’s an unproven, black manager of a non-contending team. Major League Baseball and/or the owners could have easily made an example of him, but Wash is a guy who earns respect, and I think it’s obvious that all parties involved respected the way he took responsibility for his lapse in judgment. I always suspected Wash of being a closet pothead, but now we know that third base wasn’t the only line he was handling all these years.
Here’s where I think Ron Washington is not just one, but two steps ahead of the game. He’s long been heralded a player’s coach. Guys seem to play harder for Wash – Chappy alluded to it a few months back, how the A’s demise over the last few years may very well be a direct correlation of Washington’s departure. The manager said he used cocaine once last season, and that’s what caused him to fail the test. He ran the risk of alienating himself from the owners and his ballclub. Instead, you see players like Michael Young coming to his defense. But there’s one player in that clubhouse who suddenly can relate to Wash more than anyone. That player also happens to be the team’s best player. Josh Hamilton, as everyone knows, has had his own battles with cocaine. While Washington’s incident is nothing compared to Hamilton’s years of addiction, when Rangers fans think of drug use, they won’t be zeroing in on him anymore. Wash took the heat, for lack of a better word, off of Hamilton – not that there was much, but still. The best player on the team and the manager just got that much closer on a personal level. Any time the best player on the team and the coach are on the same page, it’s a recipe for success on the field. We’ll see how it plays out, but Washington’s blunder off the field may very well be the best move he makes all season in terms of his teams’ performance on it.