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Friday Night Baseball: Game 7

October 28, 2011

It is Friday night. I am getting to this post a bit late. I have an excuse, or a few.

My son Sid and I have been spending a lot of time with the World Series. It is baseball. The best of baseball. It calls for my attention. Even now, as I type, Game 7 is pulling my attention from this craft. That is my story of the moment. Baseball is full of many more.

One of the big ones this year is Ron Washington’s story. Ron Washington, former Twin, former 3rd base coach for the Oakland A’s, and current manager of the Texas Rangers. He has led them to their second consecutive World Series. Interesting man.

He is getting a lot of attention for his animation in the dugout. They call his stirring “The Wash,” a dance of excitement that shows his emotion more than what we see in most Major League managers. He stops his feet as his players round the based and waves his arms.

This dance is not just about his personality. “Wash” is a Major League manager by merit, but a 3rd base coach at heart. The 3rd base coach, as his players round the bases on their way home, has to guide them home, using hand signals and moving his feet as quickly as a player to get in position to relay the signals to a fast-moving base runner. It is one of the most exciting dances in baseball. Windmill arms, the body English guiding a runner to home.

Being a 3rd base coach also requires a quick mind that can communicate complicated instructions to base runners and batters using an even more complicated system of clandestine hand and body signs. The job requires a fast-paced understanding of baseball situations, individual players and strategy. In short, a good 3rd base coach is smart.

We don’t hear much about Ron Washington’s intellect. It is hard for Black men to get that piece of respect. On top of having the visible animation and the smarts to run a team, he also has the quality of being able to understand and respond to the emotional disposition of his players. This was never more evident in how he spoke with Game 4 of the World Series, meeting this young pitcher at his emotional apex.

Sid and I, along with his friend Otto, went to see the movie “MONEYBALL” a couple of weeks ago. It is the story of how Billy Beane built a winning team for the Oakland A’s, a team that had far fewer resources than large market teams like the New York Yankees. It is more than just a good underdog story.

Sid loved it. So did I. Still, our favorite line is when Billy Beane and Ron Washington are visiting are talking to Scott Hatteberg about playing first base after spending his whole career as a catcher and having nothing left in his arm–and Billy says, to Hatteberg that first base isn’t all that difficult and turns to Ron Washington and says, “Right, Wash?” and without missing a beat, right on the tail of Beane, he says, “It’s ineradicable difficult.” It was one of many laughs tow baseball fans

I am writing this as the last game of the 2011 World Series plays next to me. I am writing this to describe why baseball is a love of mine, and my son, and some other people who find the stories of human character and beauty. And the complications of social realities, shortcomings of that human character and what we do to make our way past the imperfect.

I will finish watching the game, this time without Sid sitting next to me on the sofa as usual (apart from those moments when he jumps up in excitement as one of the many nuances and not-so-subtle events that make fans cheer or groan). We’ll see how this story turns out.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2011 12:38 am

    Clarence,

    Watching the same great World Series and also rooting for Ron Washington, a class act. The Cardinals win, Washington handles it with class, and I can’t get too upset because the Cardinals are also a good story and the baseball was fine. Maybe next year (Twins first, Rangers second.)

  2. October 29, 2011 7:00 am

    Nice post, Clarence. Baseball is one of the things that also connect my son and me — like a common language. It’s so intricate, and so simple at the same time.

    I see that you’re in Minnesota. Do you know anything about vintage baseball? I’m not sure if it’s still around, but for a time there were teams that played games according to the rules of a century ago; they wore the old style uniforms and used rudimentary equipment. I’d love to see one of those games. With my son, of course.

    Were you rooting for the Cardinals or the Rangers? It was a surprisingly good Series.

    • October 30, 2011 1:24 pm

      Thanks for your comments and congrats on your extended “Freshly Pressed” status. Sid and I were pulling for Ron Washington and the Rangers, although we appreciate the Cards and LaRussa. It certainly was an ineresting and exciting series.

      Vintage baseball? They do play it around here. There are a couple of organiztions that put on exhibitions. Sid and I saw one before a Twins game at the Metrodome years ago.

  3. October 29, 2011 1:20 pm

    Great interview post World Series with Ron Washington, passed along by my friends Mel Duncan and David Grant.
    http://www.ksdk.com/video/default.aspx?bctid=1247470472001

  4. Dave Tripp permalink
    October 30, 2011 12:10 pm

    I’ve always liked ron Washington. I recall sitting in my car over near the U one afternoon and listening to a tight Twins game and Herb Carneal calling the game-deciding home run Ron hit. He didn’t hit that many of them, so it stuck out in my mind. I also loved the shot of him counseling his young starting pitcher the other day and think that he is a brilliant motivator and mentor.

  5. Daniel Gabriel permalink
    October 31, 2011 1:56 pm

    Terrific Series, with tons of great subplots. I noticed how often the camera was focusing on Washington’s movements during Rangers’ rallies (hey, he made things look as exciting as they felt to me) but must confess I had not thought to link it to his previous sojourn as 3rd base coach. That makes plenty of sense.
    As a former (youth league) 3rd base coach myself–and the father of 2 ardent baseball fan sons–this post resonated quite a bit with me. You never know what indelible memory you may be sharing or creating with your son. These memories live on!

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