ARLINGTON -- Ron Washington and his wife, Gerry, will be serving turkey and the traditional stuffed peppers for Thanksgiving at their home in New Orleans this year. But the gumbo will have to wait. "We just don't have time to do it up right," Washington said. "We'll get to the gumbo this weekend. We'll all get plenty to eat this weekend, it just won't be right away." Blame it on the World Series. The Rangers are off to a late start this winter on everything -- and that includes preparing Thanksgiving dinner.
Washington was in Arlington earlier this week working with general manager Jon Daniels on trying to find a hitting coach to replace Clint Hurdle. They decided on Thad Bosley, making the announcement on Tuesday afternoon. Washington was going to drive to New Orleans immediately after but waited until Wednesday morning, leaving at 3 a.m. and arriving just before noon. That's not nearly enough time to get ready for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner at the Washington home in New Orleans. Again, blame it on the World Series and the Rangers' season not coming to an end until the first week of November. Usually the Rangers are done by the beginning of October. "I'll take it every time," Washington said. "But if we hadn't lost Clint and not had to search for a hitting coach, I could have been getting things more prepared." Still, Thanksgiving is not about food as much as spending time with family and giving thanks for all blessings. The Washington house will be full of family -- and the Rangers manager knows he has much to be thankful for after, perhaps, the most momentous season in his 40-year baseball career. "It was one heckuva of year," Washington said. "I have a ton of things to be thankful for: family, friends, wife, my team, my organization. I would definitely have to thank them all for all the love and support they showed me. To be able to do something in life that you love, and to have so many great people behind you, is something I will always be thankful for." Momentous season? Perhaps. Washington has a different term for 2010. He calls it a "very rewarding" season after everything that happened. "It was very rewarding in many ways," Washington said. "It was real rewarding for the way the team came together. It was very rewarding for the way the players showed what they are made of. It was very rewarding for the way the coaches kept them prepared -- and very rewarding for all the things the organization did. "It was very rewarding for all the things I was able to overcome because of all the support and help from people who love me. As a result, I was able to stay strong and get through it all." He has been through tumultuous seasons before. Washington lost his house and most of his family possessions when Hurricane Katrina roared through southern Louisiana in August of '05. But the storm Washington found himself in back in Spring Training was not from Mother Nature. It was his own creation. Washington had tested positive for cocaine the previous summer and the news broke. Washington had to apologize to his team and explain publically what happened. His future as manager of the Rangers seemed in doubt. No more. His organization supported him, his players rallied around him and the Rangers ended up winning their first division title in 11 years. They also defeated the Rays and Yankees in the first two rounds of the playoffs to advance to the World Series for the first time in franchise history. "When I look back and see what we did, we accomplished so much as a team and an organization," Washington said. "I'm very proud of what we accomplished and proud of everybody who was involved in this." The only disappointments were not winning the World Series and not winning Manager of the Year. "I understand with the World Series you might only get one opportunity -- and you want to win it once you get there," Washington said. "But I think with everything we accomplished as an organization, I think that opportunity will re-present itself again and again. "As far as Manager of the Year, that's an individual award. Don't get me wrong, I would love to be Manager of the Year. But that can only come if your players perform, your coaches perform and your organization performs. That's the only way I can get that award. "They certainly performed, but so did Ron Gardenhire and the Twins. I think I accomplished a lot as the leader of the Texas Rangers. But as far as awards, I don't get excited about that and I don't get down about that." Washington has other things to think about ... like finishing his house. Five years after Katrina pummeled New Orleans and caused massive flooding, Washington is still trying to put his home back together at the corner of Perth and Dorchester on the east side of the city. The floods that devastated the city left Washington's home sitting in seven feet of water. Vandals and looters did the rest. But Washington and his wife never thought of leaving New Orleans. It has been his home all his life -- and through steely pride and determination, he is close to rebuilding his home in the Kenilworth Estates neighborhood that is thriving again. "I just need to complete one bedroom and one living room," Washington said. "Once I do that, I can put some furniture in there. I also need to do some landscaping. I used to have grass out there. But once it [was] soaked in water, it became weeds. If you keep it cut short, it looks all right. But I'm going to pull all of that up and plant me some grass." He might even find some time for a vacation. "I need to take my wife on a little vacation," Washington said. "She could use one. Maybe we'll go up to New York for a long weekend. Maybe we'll go up there on a Thursday and get out of there on a Sunday. She likes New York. I don't really care for something like a cruise. That's out." Plus, a cruise usually lasts a week or more. A vacation to Washington is nothing more than a long weekend. "I don't think I've ever been on a vacation for a whole week," Washington said. "New York would be good, but I don't think I could take it for a whole week." For a long-time baseball man, vacation usually means three days off at the All-Star break. Washington won't get that next year. He will be the American League manager for the '11 game in Phoenix as a reward for leading the Rangers into the World Series. It was truly a remarkable year for the Rangers manager. So what if there is no gumbo on the table on Thursday. There is still much to be thankful for.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.