Even the most ardent Indians fans may have forgotten.
When you turn the World Series on tonight (if you can pull yourself away from "Desperate Housewives," and I hope for your sake you did in 2005) you will see a Texas Rangers ballclub managed by Ron Washington.
Washington played in the big leagues for a long time, but was never a star. He was an infielder for five teams in a career that spanned about a decade.
He played mainly for Minnesota, but he made a stop in Cleveland in 1988, and had an average season for manager Doc Edwards' decidedly below-average Indians.
If you don't remember Washington with the Indians, don't worry. He hit .256 with two homers, played one more season in Houston and retired.
But Washington did play a role in what was a healthy sibling rivalry. In 1988, my father brought home our All-Star ballots, the first year we'd vote.
A quick backstory:
My six-year old brother loved Jay Bell, the Indians' 22-year-old shortstop. I wasn't a fan. Six year olds pick favorite players by hair-color or position. Mature 8-year olds like stats, and I wasn't thrilled with Bell's, probably because he hit just .218 that season. I preferred Washington, because he at least was kind enough to get on base every now and then.
Of course, what my sophisticated mind didn't process was that Washington was 36, meaning his upside probably ran out about the time Jimmy Carter left office. Bell went on to an All-Star career, after being traded, of course.
Still, I was disappointed when Washington's name did not appear on that year's ballot. My brother punched Jay Bell's name in. So, rather than do something that made sense - like voting for Cal Ripken, maybe - I had my dad write in Washington's name at shortstop. The fact that Ron had as much chance to start at shortstop as Gumby meant little. My brother wasn't gonna show me up.
Washington must have overcome the shock of having someone vote for him that year, because he went on to a very successful coaching career. He even was played in the movie "Moneyball" by actor Brent Jennings.
Washington has proven himself to be a very good manager, something the Rangers appreciate. If they didn't, they wouldn't have stuck by him after he failed a drug test and had to answer all kinds of questions before the 2010 season.
But Washington didn't dodge the issue, answered the questions, apologized and moved on. Now, his team is appearing in its second-consecutive World Series.
I find myself pulling for the Rangers now, mainly because Washington is their manager. Some of it is believing in second chances, some of it is admiring how Washington handled his adversity.
And part of it is an 8-year-old Indians fan, still loyal to the player who annoyed my brother.
Zach Baker is the sports editor of the Advertiser-Tribune.
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