It still doesn’t seem real.
Why should it? The “Michael Young is on the trade block” storyline has surfaced before—more than once, actually.
Yet each time No. 10 still managed to trot out on Opening Day for the Texas Rangers. He simply found a way to make it work. At four different positions, Young was a constant in this organization for over a decade.
But it just couldn’t work this time.
The 36-year-old waived his full no-trade clause Saturday (according to USA Today) and accepted a deal to the Philadelphia Phillies, thus ending his 12-year run in Arlington. With the move, Texas clears some salary space and makes room for their next generation of players, while Young gets his wish to play every day as an infielder.
Although it works for both parties, it’s a sad ending because Young represents so much of what is rarely seen in sports nowadays.
Solid, steady and unselfish, all he did was produce consistently at a high level. He didn’t do this by wreaking havoc on the basepaths with his amazing speed or hitting jaw-dropping home runs into the upper deck. Ironically enough, his skill set fit his down-to-earth personality. Each year, he quietly hit .300 and collected 200 hits like clockwork.
Even through the least productive season of his career last year, Young was the last person to offer up an excuse or complaint. People could question the results, but never his commitment or work ethic.
The consummate professional, Young never let off-the-field issues affect his play or leak into the clubhouse.
He was given plenty of reasons to consider putting Texas on the back burner. The team never finished higher than third place in the division each of his first eight seasons, superstars like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira both left for greener pastures and he was continually asked to change positions despite established success at the position he was currently playing.
Still, the seven-time All-Star stuck around.
Hindsight shows it was worth the risk. The Rangers have evolved into a model franchise with a roster full of colorful characters that, at the end of the day, modeled their approach after the team’s leader, Young.
Michael Young will be remembered for a lot of things from his tenure in Texas. He owns numerous team records that won’t be broken any time soon. His personal trophy case includes a Gold Glove, a batting title, an All-Star Game MVP and two Marvin Miller Man of the Year Awards. He is also a family man who was extremely hesitant to uproot his wife and young children from the only home they’d ever known.
Perhaps Young’s most overlooked contribution is the fact that his career is a testament to patience.
In an age when just about anything is instantly available with the click of a button, this virtue is sometimes lost in the shuffle. Why not abandon ship and play for a contender? Why spend your prime playing for a team buried in the league basement? Logic says you have to win a championship right now.
It’s simple now to see the benefits. When Neftali Feliz struck out A-Rod to end the 2010 ALCS and the Ballpark in Arlington exploded in celebration, all those years Young spent paying his dues made the Rangers’ first pennant that much more gratifying. He earned it. No player deserved it more. His patience paid off. It’s just a shame they weren’t able to win it all.
Now Young is off to Philly and all the luck to him. The Rangers wouldn't be where they are now without him.