On Ron Washington's Sudden Resignation, New Allegations of Sexual Assault and What Happens Now.
Pretty much everyone was confused by last week's sudden announcement that Ron Washington was resigning — effective immediately — from his position as the manager of the Texas Rangers, a role he's filled for eight seasons.
It wasn't just that the news came out of the blue that it caused a stir. It's that it came with such little explanation and only snippets of guarded information.
Really, here's all anyone knows for sure at this very moment:
• Washington cited “an off-the-field personal matter” and “regret” for having “let down the Rangers' organization” in a statement he released. (Worth noting: According to the Dallas Morning News, the Rangers were the ones who issued that statement on Washington's behalf.)
• General manager Jon Daniels, in the requisite post-mortem press conference addressing the matter, did little addressing at all: He announced the promotion of bench coach Tim Bogar to the position interim manager in Washington's stead and he revealed that, “Ron gave us permission to acknowledge this was not drug-related,” referencing Washington's past issues with cocaine. He volleyed some more with reporters, but, for the most part, he said nothing.
• Even in an on-air interview with KTCK 1301-AM The Ticket's Norm Hitzges on Wednesday, Daniels still dodged any and all bullets as far as revealing any more details on the matter. Once more, he said pretty much nothing — and rather artfully at that.
Not too much to work with there, no. So, yeah, naturally there's been plenty of speculation as to what exactly went down here, much of it coming from fresh-faced upstart bloggers stumbling over one another to publish conjecture-posing-as-fact scoops. And with the release date of the real, honest-to-goodness, here’s-what-happened-for-real story still undetermined – will it come a few days from now? a few weeks? months? ever? – those speculations, for better or worse, seem to be the best we’ve got at the moment, flimsy as some of it is.
Over the course of these past few days, the most-referenced of these public speculations — until last night’s big drop, which I'll get to in just a second — appeared to be this anonymous source-citing piece on the Rangers fan blog Nolan Writin', in which it's alleged that an argument between Washington and Daniels over the use of pitcher Yu Darvish was the reason behind Washington walking, and this similarly anonymous source-citing follow-up, in which it's alleged that Washington (whose contract with the team was just this past off-season extended to run through 2015) became so fed up with Daniels’s post-Nolan Ryan decision-making that he didn't mind leaving more than $1 million on the table.
Because these pieces came with a “source close to the situation” (how close?) — and because people will share anything they see on the Internet, including bogus pieces about an upcoming sixth season of Breaking Bad (not ever happening) — these stories got shared on social media channels and discussed on traditional media platforms, including all three sports radio stations in town. Only, well, the theories those pieces raised have now been discarded, with Lisa Weatherall, the writer of those initial “reports,” having since posted an update to her pieces that basically admits that her information was wrong and that a new, third piece penned by someone else — one that also (of course) cites an anonymous source — actually now probably has it right.
Which brings us to last night: At just a hair before 9:30 p.m., that third story broke on the upstart The Scoop Blog, citing a “source with knowledge of the situation” and alleging that “Ron Washington's sudden departure from the club was due to impending legal issues stemming from an alleged sexual assault of an Asian reporter.”
Not exactly a minor insinuation. As such, within an hour of its posting, the initial tweet promoting this post from The Scoop had been retweeted 519 times — and by all sorts of sports media types, too, who almost gleefully stoked the flame. (We’ll get to them soon enough.)
It’s worth noting that Jamie Kelly, the writer behind the story, has at least a little bit of credibility to her name. This past offseason, Yahoo! called her a “good reporter” after she broke the news on Twitter that outfielder David Murphy would be signing with the Cleveland Indians. What was most remarkable about that reveal was how she learned of the information in the first place: Apparently, Murphy's daughter had told her daycare teachers of an upcoming move to Cleveland — and the word just eventually fell to Kelly. She then brought it to Murphy, he said it was true, and that was that.
Depending on your perspective, it was either the most doggedly scored scoop of the offseason or it was just all kinds of adorable and awwwwww, well, you know kids today. But, point is, Kelly got that story. And she claims she has this one, too — even while acknowledging that no one else has been able to just yet.
“I got [the Washington story] confirmed by several sources before I posted it,” Kelly says of her report, even though her post only mentions a single source whose information she's “cross-checked” elsewhere.
“I wish it wasn't true,” she adds of the entire scenario.
She's convinced, however, that it is true. One hundred percent, she says. And she'd better be: Hers is, of course, a deadly serious and, if wrong, a potentially libelous accusation — one that, apologies to the numbers of innings Yu Darvish may throw in a year, actually matters in the real world.
What's Kelly's rebuttal to that? If she didn’t post it, someone else would’ve soon: “The entire rest of the sports media was apparently ready to run with the [sexual assault] story today, but they couldn't get it confirmed.”
She, through her unnamed source, apparently did. Which either says a lot about Kelly, a lot about the mainstream media in this town or maybe a lot about both.
The Dallas sports media world's immediate reactions to Kelly's post sure spoke volumes, that's for sure.
On the one hand, you had types like the Dallas Morning News' Rangers writer Evan Grant, who mansplained away Kelly’s scoop by citing a lack of documentation to support it at present time. Actually, that's a pretty fair point: Even if Kelly's right in that civil or criminal legal action (read: paperwork) is “impending,” Grant's doing due diligence when he points out that hearsay isn't proof. Then again, in a country where only 40 percent of sexual assaults are ever reported at all, just because it's not on paper yet doesn't mean it didn't happen.
On the other hand, you have, rather specifically, 105.3-FM The Fan's afternoon drivetime host Ben Rogers, who was all too quick to cry Mr. Me Too on Kelly's report and give credence to rumors that he hadn't been able to substantiate on his own. Then, immediately after spreading word about possible sexual assault allegations against Washington, Rogers said he hoped the situation would pass and called the now-former manager is “one of the best dudes you'll ever meet.” It's worth pointing out here that Rogers boasts 45,000 Twitter followers to Kelly's 2,600.
Across the board, this whole thing's just a massive, massive mess. No one's looking good here. Yeah, it's just a he-said-she-said deal for the moment. But it's also only just now getting started. This isn't going to go away. It's only going to get uglier from here. It's going to be on your radio dial. It's going to come up in press conferences and newspaper columns. It's going to get drawn out.
Because someone messed up here — either Kelly or Washington. Now that this speculation is out there, one of them's going down, either for a heinous act or for an irresponsible accusation.
Make no mistake: This one really does count.
Ron Washington cover photo by EricEnfermero via WikiCommons.