While GM Josh Daniels told Fox Sports’ Jon Mirosi there is “not a question” that Washington is coming back in 2014, anything short of a World Series championship next year will most likely spell the end for the 61-year old skipper.
After the Texas Rangers lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 5-2 in Game 163 last night, one pf the main storylines was how Washington has now presided over yet another Rangers late season collapse. In Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, Washington’s Rangers choked away the World Series by squandering two-run leads against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 9th and 10th inning. They’d ultimately lose the Series in seven games.
In 2012, a late season collapse against the Oakland A’s in the season’s final series put them in the win-or-go home Wild Card game. They would lose that game to the Baltimore Orioles, 5-1.
Now we can add this year’s Rangers team to the list of recent collapses. The 2013 Rangers had all the looks of a team heading to the postseason. That was until September started. Once the calendar flipped to the final month of the season, Texas proceeded to go 5-15 and after last night’s loss, are no longer invited to the postseason party.
Before we get into more about Washington, there are many reasons as to why this year’s Rangers team collapsed. 18-game winner Matt Harrison sustained a shoulder injury early in the season and the signing of Lance Berkman never paid dividends. The acquisition of starting pitcher Matt Garza at the trade deadline did not turn out as planned, as he went 4-5 with an ERA of 4.35. The rest of the starting rotation faltered down the stretch and on top that, the Rangers lost slugger Nelson Cruz for 50 games due to his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. Managing this year’s Rangers team was not exactly a walk in the ballpark.
Still, many pundits will attribute the team’s downfall to Washington. And while it’s wildly unfair to blame it all on him for the Rangers recent downfalls, some of the blame is deserved.
While Washington has been lauded for his development of cornerstone players such as second baseman Ian Kinsler and shortstop Elvis Andrus, his in-game tactics throughout the years have been puzzling. Many questioned his tactics during Game 6 of the 2011 World Series when his team fell apart at the hands of the Cardinals.
His in-games move this year have been equally as puzzling, and his managerial blunders have been the calling cards for many Rangers fans who believe his time in Texas should end.
And in many ways that is heartbreaking. Before Washington came to town in 2007 the Rangers had never gotten past the Division series in the playoffs. With Washington at the helm, the team doubled the franchise’s playoff appearances from three to six with two division titles in 2010 and 2011, a wild card appearance in 2012, and two World Series appearances on its resume (2010 and 2011). His enthusiasm is almost unmatched by any manager in the league, and his baseball expertise is vast. He’s had his personal slip ups, (like in 2009 when Washington inhaled the same substance that Rick James once said “was a hell of a drug,” but he’s a hell of a baseball coach and a successful one at that. So say what you want about his six-year run, but the Washington era has been one of the more successful runs in recent baseball history.
And yet, his six-year stint with Rangers has been filled more “almost” and “what if” moments than fans can stand. Another season filled with close calls and disappointment will definitely spell the end for the winningest manager in Ranger history.