Here is a quick scenario for you, if your employer happened to perform a random drug test and you failed…for any reason what would happen? A former boss of mine explained the company I worked for at the time’s drug policy as such “Our Company provides benefits for you if you need assistance with drug or alcohol abuse, but if you test positive for anything during your employment you will be terminated.” The reasoning for this was that if you wanted help for a problem you would not wait for a failed drug test to get it.
A year ago yesterday we found out that Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine. When I heard the news, I panicked and texted my inner circle of Rangers fans to let them know. My wife texted back to tell me she heard his apology and that he had said “I’m truly sorry for my careless, dangerous and frankly stupid behavior.” That’s Wash in a nutshell, simple and direct, I was convinced this would be the end of his time with us, and that the first chance the Rangers had they would send him down the river. Most companies would operate this way in firing any employee who failed a drug test.
Aside from my initial shock I didn’t really have an opinion, the man made a mistake and a big one at that. For the most part I am a patient fan, I am not quick to demand someone be traded, fired or even dropped in the lineup. Sure I yell at my television if a batter doesn’t hustle to first, or a called strikeout looks wrong but I’m not in anyway qualified to operate a forklift much less run a Major League Baseball team or umpire a game. I sat back and waited to see what would happen.
What happened next certainly was nothing I expected, Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels decided to keep Ron on the staff. At the time they were criticized for sending the wrong message about drug use, that there wasn’t a place for him in professional sports as a result. Attending a game early last season I noticed fans jeer him pretty viciously as the line-ups were announced. At the time the Rangers fan base was without a playoff appearance since 1999 and had no patience for anyone. Under fan pressure and media pressure the Ryan/Daniels duo stood behind their manager.
Ron’s players stood behind him as well and showed their support at his press conference. Josh Hamilton was given a second chance after his well-documented issues with drugs and alcohol Josh felt that Wash should also be given a second chance. It should also be noted this was something the coach did not hide, after taking his drug test he approached the leadership of the club with the information. A man who had made a mistake took responsibility and told his boss. According to him this was the first and only time he had used cocaine and Washington also completed successfully the league’s substance abuse program.
First time offenders of the substance abuse policy are not made public by Major League Baseball. The team brought this to light as the result of a disgruntled former employee who was threatening to blackmail the team. Randy Galloway broke this angle of the story in his column from last year. Instead of caving to threats the team decided to get in front of the ball and hit it straight on. This could be seen as the moment the 2010 American League Champs were formed, that through this adversity they came out as winners before the season even got started.
David Murphy said earlier this month after Greenberg stepped down as CEO that it wouldn’t be spring training with the Rangers without drama and that has certainly been the case. I for one am glad the Rangers didn’t instantly terminate his employment but instead gave Ron Washington a second chance, I hope to see him behind that bench for many more years to come.