No Crying in Baseball
It has become the most familiar, oft uttered phrase of the summer. “We just need to pitch better and score more runs.” Ron Washington has said that sentence, or some variation of it, every day since the middle of June. It sucks that he has to say it and it is great that he does. Great because the alternative is some excuse laden phrase about injuries.
I don’t know if Wash has seen the movie A League of Their Own, but he definitely lives by that film’s most famous line, “there’s no crying in baseball.” In the Rangers clubhouse there is no whining either. It is just another example of Wash setting a tone and teaching his troops in that “old school” way of his.
It would be easy to cite the fact that the Rangers have used the disabled list 21 times already this year – two more than the number of times they used it all of last year and we haven’t even reached the All Star Break yet. The club record for DL uses is 29 in 2004….somehow it feels like they have at least 9 more in them (why not go for the record?).
The worst part about this rash of injuries is that they have happened to some of the most important players on the team. Derek Holland was expected to be the number two starter, and he’s already missed more than half the season. Prince Fielder was the prize of the off-season. Acquired in a trade with Detroit, he was brought in to cure what ailed the offense last season. He was an ironman having missed only a couple of games in the last five years. On May 22nd he said good-bye for the season, or at least until September, by which time the season will be all but over. The Matt Harrison story is down right tragic. Two back surgeries last year only to rehab and discover that he needs another one this year. He may never pitch again. Geovany Soto was the only catcher at spring training with any experience, and he was lost for the first half of the season. You get the idea, we are not talking about losing a utility infielder for a few days, we are talking about the most important pieces to the puzzle assembled by Jon Daniels and Thad Levine and the rest of the staff.
Four paragraphs into this little diatribe you are probably wondering “so which is it Rhads?” In the first two graphs you praise Ron Washington for not mentioning injuries and in the last two you have chronicled just how desperate the injury situation is. You are oh so wise to have noticed that you saavy reader. This is what it boils down to – we can talk about injuries, the PR staff can too, the fans can and should as well. But the players can’t. Neither can the manager – or even the front office personnel. Jon Daniels said the other day that he did not want injuries to be the “narrative” of the 2014 season. He said what he wants is for everyone in the organization to be better and for the young players to make the most of their opportunity.
And that is beginning to happen. Look at Robinson Chirinos for example, if Soto hadn’t been injured the Rangers may not know what they have in him. How about Rougned Odor? The youngest player in the majors is learning on the fly but proving that he can handle the life and the game at the highest level. Nick Tepesch and Nick Martinez have been asked to step up and they have done so sporadically. The team will be better next year because of the experience these men are getting through necessity now.
So keep watching the Rangers to see if the young players get better, and keep listening to the interviews and you will notice that there is no crying, whining or excuse making in baseball, not in these parts anyways.