Michael Young addresses rumors

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    Texas Rangers third baseman Michael Young released an official statement Monday night regarding the recent trade rumors surrounding him.

    The 34-year-old is “sick” of the ongoing rumors and the constant back and forth attitude of the Rangers front office. He simply wants respect and he feels he will get it elsewhere.

    Young has a valid point.

    He has been shuffled around the infield like a journeyman utility player for the better part of eight years. He has moved from second base to shortstop to third base to DH and now, as early as tomorrow, out the door.

    Consider this: In 2003, Young played second base. He had 204 hits and a .304 batting average. What does the Rangers front office do? Second baseman Alfonso Soriano was essentially swapped to the Rangers for Alex Rodriguez. Soriano was not known as a strong defensive second baseman (he now plays in the outfield for the Nationals), but Young selflessly moved to shortstop to accommodate Soriano and had four consecutive 200+ hit seasons. He won a batting title in 2005, was the 2006 MLB All-Star Game MVP, and a Gold Glove recipient in 2008. What do the Rangers do before spring training in 2009? Young was informed rookie Elvis Andrus would be moved up to the big leagues and would play shortstop.

    Again, Young switches positions and moves to third base. Young struggled at third early on in 2009 (he is still only adequate defensively at third), but he hit .322 to lead the team in batting average by 39 points.

    Young sacrificed his own game in 2009 for a mediocre season. The Rangers finished second in the AL West 8212; 10 games behind the Angels with a record of 87-75. Josh Hamilton struggled to get through an injury prone season and only hit .268 while Ian Kinsler hit a meager .253 out of the leadoff spot.

    In March of 2010, Rangers’ manager Ron Washington admitted to using cocaine. Rangers president Nolan Ryan and GM Jon Daniels were on the verge of firing Washington. It was Young who stepped up and did what he does: lead.

    Wash was their coach, Young said, and it was going to stay that way. Six months later, Texas clinched the AL West title. In their second playoff game in the divisional round at Tampa Bay, Young hit a three-run homer to propel Texas to a 6-0 win.

    Everyone knows the rest of the story. The Rays were defeated, the Evil Empire that is the Yankees was sent back to New York empty-handed, and Texas made its first trip to the World Series in franchise history.

    Young will leave the Rangers. His departure may be tomorrow or it may be next week, but his contributions will be swept under the rug and forgotten by a new wave of fans just looking at last year’s magical October run under a microscope. They will not forget what Young has done because they will never realize what Young has done.

    The new wave of fans will not realize how bad Texas was for so long, or how the old guard of fans filled the ballpark on 100-degree days to see a team out of contention. The old guard tuned in on balmy Tuesday evening in September nights simply to watch the professional of all professionals (Young) chase after that 200th hit for the third, then fourth, then fifth year in a row.

    The new wave will praise trading Young, but will not realize that in 2009, his decision to move to third base without complaint, helped Andrus develop into a shortstop that would help take his team to the World Series.

    And they assuredly will not remember how in that same year, Young’s bat carried Texas as far as it could when Hamilton could not hit the ball out of his shadow and Ian Kinsler was Mr. Home Run-or-Bust.

    Nope. They will not realize any of that. But the sad thing is, the Texas front office will.

    And they will simply choose to forget it.

    Ryan Osborne is a freshman journalism major from Lawton, Okla.