One of the charms of Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington is his rapport with his players and his ability to stay loose, even under extreme pressure. He always seems to be smiling, shaking hands or laughing. Reds manager Dusty Baker is much the same way.
If ballclubs do indeed reflect the demeanor of their skippers, there is little wonder why the Rangers' clubhouse is one of the loosest I’ve ever seen during a postseason series.
Any baseball person will tell you that whether you're at the plate, on the mound or in the field, if you aren’t loose, you're tight. And when you play tight, bad things happen. However, don’t mistake loose for caring less about the game or the situation. As we saw Wednesday night, Michael Young was all business when he shot a line drive back up the middle to put the Rangers ahead 3-2; we saw it when catcher Mike Napoli gunned down Austin Jackson at second base in the 10th; we saw it as right fielder Nelson Cruz threw a laser to Napoli to cut down Miguel Cabrera at the plate in the eighth.
Tonight, as the Rangers attempt to clinch the American League pennant against the Detroit Tigers, Washington’s guys will be focused and prepared, but they will also seem to be having as much fun as kids playing Wiffle Ball in the backyard.