I need to pick up on a couple of things that happened in the last week that I overlooked because it is “Tournament Time” and that is where my attention has been focused. The first issue is the revelation that Rangers’ manager, Ron Washington, admitted to his GM and/or his owner last year at the All-Star break that Washington had used cocaine once and would probably test positive since someone had just shown up and had him fill a cup. Washington says it was a one-time use; he said he offered to resign. Team President – at the time – Nolan Ryan refused to accept that resignation; life went on.
Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrote a column last week saying that the reason all of this came to light eight months after the fact is that a former employee of the Rangers was “blackmailing the team” – - Galloway’s words – - over this matter because the former employee knew of the positive test and knew that the Rangers knew of the positive test and had done nothing about it. Let me be clear; I have no way to corroborate that assertion by Randy Galloway. Let me be equally clear; Randy Galloway has a long reputation as top-shelf journalist, columnist and beat reporter. He has been covering the Dallas sports scene for at least 40 years now. I am not saying that he has never been wrong on a story, but if I am going to wager on how this story hit the media in March 2010, I think I would go with the smart money and that would be with Galloway here.
The Rangers’ management has been supportive; and now that the players have learned of Washington’s transgression, they too have been highly supportive. Yes, there is fodder here for comedians who can say that suspicions should have been aroused last year when every Rangers’ sign included rubbing the nose. Fine. I have no problem at all with the Rangers’ decision to retain Ron Washington; as his employer, that is their call.
HOW-EVAH, according to the details of the story, Washington and the Rangers also informed the honchos of MLB about this cocaine use, the likelihood of a pending failed drug test and Washington’s offer to resign. And that is where I have a minor quibble. Suppose a player had made the same admission. Would that player have been permitted to continue to play the rest of the season without any sanction from MLB? Suppose it was someone on the Commish’s staff?
If the answer to those questions above is, “Yes”, then MLB as an entity is in a position where they are condoning cocaine usage just as long as you fess up to your boss before the results come in on your urine test. I am NOT saying here that everyone who uses cocaine should be fired immediately; I am saying that use of illegal substances should at least come with some kind of punishment or mandatory counseling/treatment as a condition of continued employment. Randy Galloway does say that MLB put him in a confidential abuse program and determined that Washington was not a consistent cocaine user/abuser. Fine. But from that point forward, it sure seems to me as if the rest of the actions last year amount to not much more than a cover-up.
Let me say one more thing to those people who called immediately for Washington to be fired. There is recent precedent for an active baseball manager to behave in an illegal and antisocial fashion without losing is job. It wasn’t all that long ago when Tony LaRussa was behind the wheel of his car sufficiently inebriated that he fell asleep at the wheel while at a stoplight. If one were to go by precedent alone, Ron Washington should keep his job. Cocaine use is hardly a “good thing”; on the assumption that this was a “one-time thing”, then Washington’s use is no more horrific than La Russa’s DUI incident.
The other thing that happened in the last few days is the pair of 5-minute interviews that Tiger Woods gave to ESPN and to The Golf Channel. According to reports, CBS turned down a chance for a similar interview on the basis that they did not want to limit the interview in any way including time. Whatever.
These interviews – like the humongous public mea culpa – that Woods presented a couple of weeks ago are purely designed to recreate his image for marketing purposes. These events are staged and calculated by Woods’ handlers to restore as much of his Q-rating as possible. Anyone who thinks that there is any other purpose remotely associated with these staged events is dumb enough to believe that a bigamist is what they call fog in Italy.
Tiger Woods got caught with his pants down – - quite literally. He is now engaged in a process to present himself to the public again in situations where his pants are clearly on and his zipper is in the full upright position. He can go back and play golf the way he used to play golf since he suffered no known injury from his sexual romps. But what he wants to do is to play golf AND regain his product endorsements that will pay him bazillions of dollars. It is the process of trying to start to look “less than toxic” to advertisers and sponsors that generates these staged events.
Now that you have heard the mea culpa several weeks ago and have seen – or read about – the 5-minute interviews, do you have any idea why Tiger Woods crashed his vehicle into a fire hydrant/tree less than 100 yards from his house on Thanksgiving night? If you say you do, then you are a mind reader or have the power to go out-of-body and to travel back in time to see what happened and then report back on it. Sorry; but with all the glowing reports of his candor and his openness in those staged events, I must have missed out on the fundamental explanation here:
Mr. Woods, since you feel compelled to apologize to people to try to regain your Q-rating, the essential ingredient that people have to know in order to forgive you is, “What happened?”
I am not interested in judging Tiger Woods as a person. There are moralists out there who have tried to make the events surrounding his life in the last four months into something that will shape the course of Western Civilization from here forward. Buncombe! If the moralists want to “punish” Tiger Woods for his behavior, the way for them to do so is to refuse to buy any product that he endorses and to spend their time and energy trying to convince others to do the same.
They cannot prevent him from playing golf; they cannot make his wife divorce him and take his kids away from him; they cannot prevent him from philandering again in the future. All they can do is to make sponsors know that they will actively seek to buy competing products if those sponsors retain Tiger Woods as a pitchman. So, enough with the moralizing; if you really think there is more to be done here, get in touch with potential sponsors. Please leave me out of it…
CBS is clearly glad that Tiger Woods will play in the Masters because TV ratings for golf this year have been dismal. I heard a comment on a local sports radio station that if all of Tiger Woods’ known mistresses would commit to watch him play in the Masters, the TV ratings for the tournament would be double those of any previous tournament this season. Good line – - and maybe not that far off base…
Finally, here is a comment from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times relative to the Commissioner of Baseball:
“The Brewers plan to unveil a 7-foot statue of commissioner Bud Selig outside Miller Park on Aug. 24. Pigeons and catchers report Aug. 23.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…