Hello again Gabbers. It's Wednesday and time again for a bit of deep thinking. I will be jumping around a bit today. Although it is fall and the fall classic looms; we are ankle deep in a myriad of football issues. Helmet to helmet suspensions? Bad officiating in the SEC. Boise State and TCU get screwed again? But, before I roll into football, I have to spend a few moments discussing playoff baseball.
The Texas Rangers are in the process of putting a beat down of epic proportion on the New York Yankees. In fact, except for the melt down by the Ranger bullpen in the first game; this would already be a sweep. I like Joe Girardi and think he is a good manager, but when you intentionally walk David Murphy in the top of the sixth, it was a perfect opportunity to go get AJ Burnett. He had pitched pretty well, but I just knew Molina was going to get him. The announcers even mentioned that Bengie sits dead red on first pitch fast balls. I don't want to get too deep into this game, but it was exactly what I figured. The Yankees starting pitching is just not that good. I have to give props to my son. He watched Hamilton in the last game against the Rays and he said," he is really close to going off. He is getting his front foot down early again and his timing is back.." Yeah, I guess you could say his timing has been pretty good. There is so much that I could write, but I know that Beeze is starting to drift off with so much talk of baseball...
As much as I hate to admit it, Mickey Mantle was my favorite player growing up. Josh Hamilton reminds me of the Mick in a big way. Admittedly, both have battled demons. The difference is that Hamilton battled his at the beginning of his career. Perhaps it would have been better for Mantle if he had as well? Everyone acknowledges the power stroke that Hamilton has, but he is a really gifted outfielder. Mantle was a bit faster, but he was one of the fastest players to ever play (before his knee injury).
I think the phrase that fits both of these guys is: Country Strong.
It is interesting that this dream season for the Rangers almost did not happen. It is no secret that Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine. So much of the success that the Rangers have enjoyed is because of the steady hand of their skipper. I am sure all of us shook our heads when we heard that a 57 year old baseball "lifer" had tested positive for cocaine. I am sure most of us also expected him to get the boot. It is a tribute to the Ranger brain trust that they went against the grain and allowed Ron Washington to stay on as manager of the Texas Rangers. Here is a bit of an article about Washington:
And so when on a Monday afternoon in July 2009 a team trainer rapped softly on the door and announced, ”Wash, you’re on the list for testing,” Washington thought indeed it was his time. The Lord would have to look very low that day.
Washington glanced up from his lineup card. Maybe he didn’t hear. Maybe he didn’t want to.
At 57 years old, Washington had used cocaine the previous week in Anaheim. Managers and coaches were tested randomly, usually once a year. His number had come up. The man waited outside. He invited him in.
When the door was closed again and only one person knew what the contents of that cup would reveal, Washington reached for his telephone and dialed the number for Major League Baseball. I just took a drug test, he told the person on the other end. I think I’m going to test positive. What do I do?
He was told there was a program. He was told to tell his bosses.
Later on Monday, the phone rang on the desk of the president of the Rangers. Nolan Ryan picked up. The call was from New York, from Major League Baseball. When the conversation was over, Ryan walked down the hall to the office of his general manager, Jon Daniels. Daniels wasn’t surprised to see Ryan before a game. But Ryan pulled the door closed behind him and frowned.
”Oh, this isn’t going to be good,” Daniels said. ”Whaddya got?”
”Have you spoken to Ron today?” Ryan asked.
Daniels, who’d traded for Josh Hamilton(notes), who’d endured Hamilton’s backslide, was initially shocked, then angry, then mystified.
”All right,” he said finally, ”let’s try to take a step back here. Is there a bigger issue? What are we looking at?”
Ryan and Daniels decided then to allow Washington time to come to them. They waited for a day and a half. The Rangers were playing well, contending in the AL West and in the process of sweeping a three-game series from the Boston Red Sox. Washington on Wednesday afternoon approached Daniels and assistant general manager Thad Levine. His eyes were filled with tears. The team would have the next day – Thursday – off. He needed to talk to them after the game.
”He was crushed,” Daniels said. ”So were we.”
Washington told them he’d used cocaine before the All-Star break. He said he’d not used it before or since. He talked about the anxieties he’d been feeling, how he’d attempted to cope, what a terrible mistake he’d made. He apologized. He offered to resign, then and there, to leave the job he’d worked so hard for and go back to New Orleans, a place for rebuilding, to save them all the embarrassment.
”The toughest thing to deal with is when you do things to yourself,” Washington said this week, more than a year after the test, six months after the results became public, a couple days before the Rangers clinched their first postseason appearance in 11 years. ”No outside forces caused it. There begin to be a lot of people you have to answer to.”
The Rangers wanted him in counseling. They wanted no more surprises. They struggled with the concept of a middle-aged man turning to cocaine, but they chose to believe. What they wanted most of all was honesty.
The next day, when baseball was in the midst of spring training and roiling with the news of Washington and cocaine and demands he be fired, Washington admitted he’d smoked marijuana and taken amphetamines as a player.
And he managed his ballclub.
”I was proud of him,” Rangers third baseman Mike Young said. ”And I’m proud to play for him.”
For lifting the Rangers from a dead decade, for ripping the AL West from the clutches of the Los Angeles Angels, for keeping it together through a Texas summer, Washington is likely to challenge Ron Gardenhire of the Minnesota Twinsand Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Raysfor manager of the year. He was, in the end, not a distraction at all. He was able to bear up under the humiliation of his missteps. It’s what lifers do, of course.
Months ago, when the burden was great and the criticism was as overwhelming as it was justified, Washington allowed himself hope for recovery. He spoke of forgiveness, of a compassionate hand in an age of sledgehammer justice. He’d cried plenty over this, over his choices, over his bad timing, over the stain he’d smeared across his name and his organization and his sport and the people who believed in him.
There is no way to know if he was punished for a single indiscretion or saved from much more. There is only understanding, or there is not. The rest is for Ron Washington, who, at 58, was left to rewrite his gravestone. Or can he?
”I don’t know if I will be able to,” he said. ”People will have their opinions. People that don’t know me will probably never forgive me. For the thousand that don’t like you, there’s a thousand that do. … But if those thousand took a chance to come and try to find out what Ron Washington is all about, I believe they’d be persuaded.
“I was wrong. And those that will never give me right, I can’t change that. Because I was wrong. This is a very forgiving society. I just hope that at some point people can get to the point where they can forgive me.”
He’d have to go first. Whatever anxieties and vulnerabilities hounded him, they’d follow. Whatever happened in Anaheim that night, there are other lonely cities and lonely nights just like it. There are other men out there – himself included – who indeed have the power to ruin his life. The man that showed up in his office with that cup and that earnestness that day? He wasn’t there to ruin it. He was there to save it.
I know that this was rather long, but I thought it was worth a read, I hope you agree...
Yes, there is another series going on. In no way do I mean to slight the Giants. In their own way, the Giants are also taking it too a heavily favored opponent. Philly is a very good team and I simply did not think that the Giants would be able to manage Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels. So far, they have proved that they do indeed have just enough offense to make winners out of their excellent starters. The Giants are half way home, but I have a feeling that this will be a 7 game dog fight.
Okay, enough baseball.
Chris Berman's name came up in a blog today and it got me to thinking of how so many of our friends that talk us from the TV are really not very nice. I thought that I would add a few examples of what Sully would call a dolt.
Yeah, a little codeine never hurt anybody...really? 4 bottles of 250 count seems a bit much.
Even our disc jockeys lose it...
Here is a question for you. Should the NFL begin to suspend players for helmet to helmet hits? Here is a clip from Sunday:
Did Robinson do this on purpose? Should he be suspended? While I have big concerns about what I saw on Sunday, isn't this why they are paid so much money? Professional football is an extremely dangerous game. My first thought was this has to be regulated, but is this the right answer? I have a suggestion. No helmets. Yeah, you heard me. We have improved the helmets so much that obviously the equipment has become a weapon. Do I seriously think this will happen, no. Do I think it should; no. But, at what point do we let players just play? Maybe the answer is to take off the pads and just go with flags?
Here are a few odd random clips that I thought I might throw in:
Happy New Year indeed.
Proof that Big Foot is a redneck.
I forget, did the Cowboys play last week? As a Dallas fan, maybe I should hope for a complete bust of a season so that we get to turn the entire team over...starting at the top. It makes me laugh to hear people still asking about the Cowboys playoff hopes. This kid says it pretty well:
I could not leave without a comment or two about the Horns upset over Nebraska. I could talk about how Texas seems to have Nebraska's number. How Mack Brown has not lost to Nebraska. How Nebraska does not seem to understand the concept of throwing and catching a football. But, really what I want to say is that I am sorry that Nebraska is leaving the Big 12. Nebraska has always been a classy group of fans and players and I can only hope the we get to play them again in the conference championship. Actually, I bet Nebraska plays someone, but barring a miracle it won't be Texas. I told Carl Spackler that if Texas can score 14 points and Nebraska's defense does not score that I liked our chances. It worked out, but was really a strange game.
A quick word about my son's team. They won again last week over their rival. We scored twice in the first 6 minutes of the game and then did nothing for most of the game. Both teams seemed surprisingly flat and truly the game was rather boring. But, a 21 to 7 victory against a district opponent is cool.
Here is a late breaking story about the Indianapolis Colt punter. Indy seems to have an issue with their kickers getting "liquored up".
Look out Peyton Manning(notes), there's another idiot kicker on the prowl in Indianapolis.
Colts punter Pat McAfee(notes) was arrested on Wednesday for public intoxication after going for a pre-dawn swim in a canal near some Indianapolis bars. Police found him shirtless and wet, reeking of alcohol, with watery eyes and slurred speech. The second-year player out of West Virginia had a blood-alcohol content of 0.15.
In case all those things didn't tip off the police as to McAfee's lack of sobriety, these three incidents mentioned in the report probably did the trick.
1. When police asked McAfee how much he had to drink, he responded, "a lot, cause I'm drunk."
2. Police also asked McAfee whether he had gone swimming ("I'm not sure") and, if not, how his shirt got wet. Like Milli Vanilli, he blamed it on the rain. It was a fine strategy, except for the fact that Tuesday night/Wednesday morning in Indianapolis was perfectly clear. (It was pretty cold though; overnight lows in the city hit the low 40s.)
3. The cops were called after a woman saw a shirtless McAfee approaching her car at a red light.
Colts President Bill Polian said the club will investigate and then discipline McAfee appropriately. We say to go easy on the kid. He wasn't driving, he wasn't fighting, he wasn't harassing; he had a few too many and decided to go for an late-night, mid-week autumn swim in a dirty, near-freezing canal. We've all been there before.
Now I leave you with a bit of Jack Handy:
I think the mistake a lot of us make is thinking the state-appointed shrink is our friend.
If you ever teach a yodeling class, probably the hardest thing is to keep the students from just trying to yodel right off. You see, we build to that.
Thanks for stopping by. Please share a thought or two on your way out.