Note: I call Washington various forms of his name (Ron, Big Ron, Wash, Lil’ Ronnie, Uncle Ron, and more). Do not be alarmed or confused when you see more than one form; it’s all the same guy.
What makes Washington so cool is that we all know a Ron Washington somewhere. You’ve either worked with someone like him, have a family member like him, have a homeboy like him, a mentor; just someone in your life who resembles Wash. For me, he’s like Willie McCullough, the old-school player I reference as the second-most important male in my life, next to The Good Doctor Solomon Masenda. Willie talks trash and tosses one-liners with ease, but he also drop priceless nuggets of wisdom and he would make life so simple that you have to understand it, even if you’re dumber than a roll of toilet paper.
That’s Ron Washington. For people who didn’t really get baseball, he broke it down so easy that you at least wanted to tune in to see if his lessons came true. He’s also the man you wanted to see succeed, and when the Rangers won their division, the cheers for Uncle Ron picked up from a mere whisper to a local spread.
When the Rangers won the Divisionals against the Rays, there was Uncle Ron, laughing, giving dap to players, and having a blast, while those cheers that were once local became regional. By the time the Yankees came to town, The Ron Washington Movement was national. People were going crazy for the Rangers. Sure, some of them love baseball and love the team, but a case can definitely be made that folks paid closer attention due to the presence of Big Ron.
When the Rangers beat the Yankees to make The World Series, the man was doused with coolers filled with drank (well, Gatorade), bottles of champagne, and cans of beer. Claw and Antler shirts (the Rangers team theme) were rampant across the ballpark, but there was also the explosion of shirts directly inspired by Ron Washington, some of his famous sayings (“that’s the way baseball go”), and shirts with his silhouette on the front and Lil’ Ronnie Lingo on the back. Kids cut their hair, put on the moustache, some glasses, and went as Ron Washington for Halloween. Managers rarely get this kind of attention, and while the focus rightly belongs to the players, fans and others who didn’t even like the game like that continued to pull for the man who was like the guy we all know from around the way.
The Rangers didn’t win the World Series, but they accomplished something that’s never been done in team history, and that’s by winning a playoff game, a series, and then making the World Series. All the while, they were led by the old-school player with qualities we all know and love, someone with a part of us in him, spitting’ his sunflower seeds on the ground, sticking by his players, and keeping it real the way only a few people know how. That’s exactly why Ron Washington is one of the coolest people in sports in 2010, and it’s exactly why a theme that was constantly echoed by one of my boys, Chris Navarre and me rings true more than ever: if there’s one thing certain in life, it’s that Ron Washington knows baseball.
P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk (and hopefully on the radio soon) show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!