Ron Washington knows how tough it is to win

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington puts his head

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington puts his head down in the dugout during the seventh inning of Game 7 of the 2011 World Series. (Oct. 28, 2011) (Credit: AP)

David Lennon

David Lennon has been a staff writer for David Lennon

David Lennon has been a staff writer for Newsday since

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This week, on the same day the news broke of another clubhouse mutiny in Boston -- is it that time of year already? -- Ron Washington philosophized about the plight of the modern manager.

Missed signs, botched fundamentals, the ever-pervasive, me-first attitude. What's a two-time American League champion to do? If Washington was moved to air out such complaints despite the Rangers apparently cruising to another AL West crown, it felt like a poor reflection on the game.

Washington lamented that many players have been rushed to the majors too soon, and the need to do more teaching at this level can hurt a team's chances to win -- along with hinder a manager's ability to do his job effectively.

"These players are making mistakes that we couldn't make in high school," Washington said. "It used to be that when you got to the big leagues, you better know how to play unless you were a Mickey Mantle or someone like that. You had to be able to the play the game -- do the little things -- or you couldn't be here.

"Manager ruled. You think I rule? No way."

Washington was feeling the pressure this week in the midst of losing three of four games to the Yankees, yet still holding to a six-game lead in the AL West by the end of it.

The Rangers, with a $120-million payroll, are trying to shed the baggage of two back-to-back World Series losses, and this continued run of prosperity is giving them a taste of what life has been like in the Bronx for much of the past 15 years -- without the rings, of course.

"It's harder each year to sustain because everybody's after you," Washington said. "But you have to have pride in what you're doing and you can't forget the fundamental things that this game has to offer. Then the talent part of it comes into play. I got a lot of talent, and I work hard to try to get them to understand the fundamental part of it.

"But it's tough. It's not easy to win. It's easy to lose -- but it's not easy to win. To wake up every morning knowing you're going to come to the yard and everything you have inside of you, you've got to leave there. Winning is tough. It's a grind. It's a lot on your body, a lot on your mind. It's a lot to keep guys on the same page, to quit thinking individual and think team and think group."

As Washington illustrates, these challenges are not unique to Boston, where reportedly a group of players texted ownership to call a meeting to verbally assassinate Bobby Valentine. Upon hearing the news, one member of the Yankees couldn't believe it, saying the whole ordeal sounded like "science fiction."

Of course, the Yankees had plenty of their own drama during the George Steinbrenner Era. But that has receded significantly under his son, Hal, and a respected chain-of-command that filters from Brian Cashman to Joe Girardi to a veteran clubhouse headed by Derek Jeter, who owns five World Series rings.

"That's why they win all the time," Washington said. "That's why those guys over there are considered the elite because they wouldn't want it any other way and it's expected. We put expectations on ourselves and we're not afraid to meet them."

As for setting that bar to the Yankees' height, Washington smiled. "It's all about winning here," Washington said of the Bronx. "You can win 110 games, and if you don't win the World Series here, you're losing. I hope we can get to that point in Texas."

Magic Numbers

235,314 -- Dollars of alleged illegal profits earned by Hall of Famer Eddie Murray, from insider trading, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Murray settled the lawsuit this week. Still, the '93 Mets season wasn't his fault.

462 -- Feet traveled by the first of Prince Fielder's two home runs Friday that nearly sailed completely out of Comerica Park before bouncing back onto the centerfield shrubs, where it fittingly looked like a golf ball in the rough.

18 -- Strikeouts in a Little League game once caught by Wade Boggs, who threw out a ceremonial first pitch at the LLWS. Did not say if he used his mind to turn the baseball invisible that day.

17 -- Dollars, the lowest priced ticket to a first-round playoff game at PNC Park. The Pirates notified season-ticket holders this week. It's Pittsburgh's first winning season since '92, so apparently the prices haven't been updated since.

9 -- Pitches needed by Clay Buchholz to strike out the side Thursday in Baltimore, only the 47th time in history the feat has been accomplished. Incredibly, Buchholz managed to do it despite having Bobby Valentine as his manager.

2 -- Home runs hit Friday by Chipper Jones, his first multihomer game since 2009. Despite one of best seasons, Jones says he is sticking to his retirement plans. That means Chipper Night still a go at Citi Field in 19 days!

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