Great to see all the publicity Ron Washington is getting during his first go-around as a manager. He’s deserved this opportunity for a long time, and to see how the Rangers players are responding to him is no surprise to any of us lucky enough to know him.
What’s just as interesting, however, is that Art Howe’s return to baseball has gotten not even drawn a spec of notice. Howe, who guided the A’s to three playoff appearances and two division titles as their manager from 1996-2002, has been out of the game the past two seasons. He was canned by the New York Mets after 2004, and his career seem to have stalled.
But suddenly he’s Washington’s right-hand man, and the fact that he’s here gives some insight into Wash’s personality.
“He told me one time that he ever became a manager and I was available, he wanted me on his staff,” Howe said.
So it should come as no surprise that when Washington was hired by Texas in November, he called Howe immediately. And no, this isn’t an example of the old-crony network. It is, instead, one manager long ago recognizing an ally and keeping that information on tap in case he ever needed it.
“I like his style,” Washington said the other day. “I like his intelligence. I like his demeanor. I’m a fiery guy. He’s laid back. So we make a good partnership. When I got Art, I became more relaxed.”
Howe also seems extremely content with the situation. He’s Washington’s bench coach in Texas (as well as his infield coach), which a) puts him close to his home in Houston and b) allows him to experience the intrigue of managing without the headaches.
“I told him, ‘When you have to go talk to the press, I’ll be taking a nice, hot shower,” Howe joked, “And drinking a nice, cold beer.”
Philadelphia Phillies general manager Pat Gillick also deserves some praise, as well. Gillick had hired Howe to be the team’s third-base coach, yet granted him 24 hours to work out a deal with the Rangers when Washington called.
“I was at the airport, getting ready to go to the organizational meetings when my phone rang,” Howe said. “I guess it was meant to be. … I owe Gillick a big debt, because I don’t know if any other general manager would’ve done that for me.”
The net result being that a good man who wasn’t a bad manager is back where he belongs.