Ron Washington – On the road to redemption

Did you hear that the Texas Rangers are in the World Series?

Did you know that the Rangers organization was faced with a tough decision of keeping its Manager Ron Washington or firing him?

One of the biggest challenges any owner will ever face is when to keep your front office management and coaching staff intact, and when to let them go. It’s such a difficult choice. Time and time again we’ve seen coaches let go when the team is losing. We’ve also seen coaches let go when the team has been winning, but not winning enough or not winning championships.

Sometimes it’s apparent and obvious to an organization that a coach has to go. Everyone knows that it’s time for a change and a new voice – even the guys selling beer in the stands know the coach has to go. What about the situations when the owner has to make a judgment call? If I keep my coach this team could have a miraculous season. Or if I keep my coach/management this organization could lose games and stand to lose millions of dollars.

What’s an owner to do? The pressure is coming from everywhere – fans, media, players, and staff.

We saw what happened with the Detroit Lions. Matt Millen was the President and CEO of the Lions from 2001-2008. The team was 31-84 during his tenure. The Lions consistently underachieved and could never find the right personnel to move the team forward. During Millen’s tenure there were four head coaches (Marty Mornhinweg ‘01-‘02, Steve Mariucci ‘03-‘05, Dick Jauron ‘05, Rod Marinelli ‘06-’08) and neither coach was able to produce a winning season. And during Millen’s tenure there were teams like the Carolina Panthers that went 1-15 in 2001 and they were able to turn it around and went to the Super Bowl two years later.

Now I’m not suggesting that it’s easy to get to the Super Bowl in two seasons. Clearly the Panthers had good pieces to the puzzle already in place. My point is that there were other NFL teams that stepped up their production on the field during the same time frame. This is an example where management was kept too long.

We also saw what happened in Cleveland. The Cavs let Coach Mike Brown go even after his team had the best record in the NBA over the last two seasons. Brown had the highest winning percentage in Cavs history, but he wasn’t able to win an NBA Championship or keep LeBron James happy. Nothing less than that would be accepted in Cleveland.

What about a situation when a coach or management makes an off the field or court mistake? They damage their own reputation and the reputation of the organization.

This is exactly what the Rangers faced. In 2009, Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine. Initially, the situation was handled in-house and with the league until the story broke in the national media.

I can only imagine the amount of pressure that the Rangers organization received. There had to be many people calling for Washington to be fired. Even though the team was having a successful season, I’m sure this type of behavior wasn’t going over well in the court of public opinion.

The Rangers organization made the tough decision and kept Washington as their manager. He came forward and explained that the drug test would come back positive even before the results were in. When Washington was hired he said that he would be a “player’s manger” and the he would keep things simple and right. It’s clear that the player’s appreciated this, and many of them rallied around him.

In the end the decision to keep Washington paid off. The Rangers just defeated the Yankees, and they are in the World Series for the first time. Ron Washington is truly on the road to redemption.

In the end, I don’t think there is a magic formula for an owner to decide when a coach/management should stay or go. Every situation is different and requires a clear judgment call. However, I do think an owner needs to have a vision and a clear direction that she wants to see the team move in. An owner can’t panic and be too quick to pull the plug on a situation. And an owner can’t hang on to a coach or front office management for sentimental reasons – especially if it’s very clear that the situation is NOT working. Finally, an owner needs to have respect for the game, the players, the coaches/management, the fans, the sponsors, and yes – the media.

Congrats to the Texas Rangers for making it to the World Series. And Congrats to the Rangers management for making the tough and right decision to keep manager Ron Washington.

The Rangers organization made the tough decision and kept Washington as their manager. He came forward and explained that the drug test would come back positive even before the results were in. When Washington was hired he said that he would be a “player’s manger” and the he would keep things simple and right. It’s clear that the player’s appreciated this, and many of them rallied around him.

In the end the decision to keep Washington paid off. The Rangers just defeated the Yankees, and they are in the World Series for the first time. Ron Washington is truly on the road to redemption.

In the end, I don’t think there is a magic formula for an owner to decide when a coach/management should stay or go. Every situation is different and requires a clear judgment call. However, I do think an owner needs to have a vision and a clear direction that she wants to see the team move in. An owner can’t panic and be too quick to pull the plug on a situation. And an owner can’t hang on to a coach or front office management for sentimental reasons – especially if it’s very clear that the situation is NOT working. Finally, an owner needs to have respect for the game, the players, the coaches/management, the fans, the sponsors, and yes – the media.

Congrats to the Texas Rangers for making it to the World Series. And Congrats to the Rangers management for making the tough and right decision to keep manager Ron Washington.

Good Night Sports Fans,

Alana

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