By now, we should all be familiar chapter and verse with the textbook procedure for dealing with the high-profile sporting downfall: Tiger Woods and his reputation fell to earth like a giant, 9-iron swinging Sputnik. Michael Vick, once in handcuffs, ceased to be a person to the Madison Avenue executives who once hitched their stars to him. What we know is now boilerplate: At the first sign of trouble the suits in front offices across America will generally run for cover.
Yet, in a noticeable departure, the Texas Rangers did not dispose of a toxic, embarrassing situation by firing manager Ron Washington when he tested positive for cocaine last summer. The organization could have engineered the usual cut-and-run techniques perfected by teams and sponsors alike whose first and last impulse is to disinfect the brand by discarding the person.