- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 13, 2010

ARLINGTON, TEXAS (AP) - Ron Washington says he’s humbled to be leading the Texas Rangers into their first AL championship series, especially after thinking at one point that a huge mistake had cost him his first managerial job.

Washington offered to resign late in the 2009 season after he admitted to using cocaine once. Team president Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels stuck by him then, and again when the revelation became public during spring training this year.

“When you get that type of support, you certainly don’t want to let anyone down,” Washington said Wednesday. “I had let a lot of people down that loved me. But those people didn’t back off that love just because of what I did. … They supported me. My players supported me. And I just wanted to give them everything I had.”

The Rangers wrapped up their first postseason series victory by winning 5-1 at Tampa Bay on Tuesday night in the deciding Game 5 of the AL division series. They got into the playoffs after winning their first AL West title in 11 years.

Washington is in the final year of his original contract, which was a two-year deal with two one-year options that were both exercised by the team. But the Rangers have already said they want him back next season.

Michael Young, a perennial All-Star and the Rangers‘ longest-tenured player in his 10th season, talked during the Tampa Bay series about how important Washington is to the team.

“That’s why we were so adamant in spring training, making sure we were on the same page that we supported each other and that we wanted the right people in place going forward,” Young said. “And that started with Wash. As a matter of fact, it starts and ends with Wash. He’s the manager, he makes the important decisions. He’s the guy that has to have the respect in our clubhouse. And he has had it for a long time now. We couldn’t be happier that he is our manager. “

Washington spent 11 seasons on Oakland’s staff before becoming Texas’ manager and considers himself a “baseball lifer.” He is now proving that the Rangers made the right decision to hire him in the first place _ and then to keep him.

Texas has improved its win total each season under Washington. After winning 75 games his first season, the Rangers improved to 79, then 87 before reaching 90 wins this season for only the fourth time in team history.

“I’m very solid in who I am and what I’m about, and anyone that knows me in the game of baseball knows what Ron Washington is about,” he said. “I feel good about the people that I learned from and the ideals that I tried to issue out there from those experiences. … Me, personally, I’m only as good as the people around me, and the job they do.”