Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ron Washington
Texas Rangers' manager Ron Washington seems like a good man. He made a horrible mistake, he went to his superiors and confessed, fully expecting to be fired.

Washington failed a cocaine test in July of last year. Had many other baseball executives been in charge of the Rangers, he would have been.

I want to believe Washington's story, that he has never used hard drugs before that one night last July.

But what makes a man, 57-years old, try cocaine? Washington played in the 1980s, when cocaine use in MLB was, if not heavy, certainly prevalent.

Not many players have had public problems with cocaine in recent seasons. One of the few that has, Josh Hamilton, plays for Washington and the Rangers.

I just can't figure out why Washington would allow himself to be put in the position of trying an illegal drug for the first time, when it could cost him everything.

Which brings up another question: Was Washington's drug use the result of the stress of the job? If he resorts to illegal drugs in those situations, that's a problem, because with this out, there are plenty to be more.

Washington played for the Indians in 1988. I made him a write-in vote in what was my first All-Star ballot. In the years since, I've often thought about how strange that vote was. If nothing else, the memory made me follow Washington as a coach, and then a manager.

We haven't seen major league managers or coaches with drug problems. We have seen coaches and managers who have been pulled over for DUIs, which in reality is worse than what Washington did.

Washington's handling of this today was impressive. I do believe he's a good man, and I hope he makes the most of what becomes a second chance.

But there will always be questions now, and I doubt he will ever have good answers.



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