If you haven’t heard of Rougned Odor by now, just google his name. You’ll find hundreds of articles–most of which have been written in the last 24 hours and focus on that wicked blow he laid on Jose Bautista in the Blue Jays-Rangers game on May 15.
Since then, conclusions have been drawn as to what kind of player and person that incident makes him. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and feelings about the situation and the person.
I’m not trying to dispute any of that.
I’m not trying to defend any situation.
I’m not trying to defend any one person.
I do, however, want to tell you about the Rougie I know and have known since he broke into the Major Leagues with the Rangers two years ago. So if you’re not interested in that, cool. Stop reading 🙂
Full disclosure. I have covered the Rangers for more than a decade. I am currently their dugout reporter. I am a currently contract employee of the Rangers organization. I am a giant homer, and I make no apologies for that. I am in that clubhouse 100+ days over the course of a 162-game season, and those dudes in that room make it hard NOT to root for them. So there it is. All out in the open.
Now to Rougie. When I first met him, he was guarded—sure of himself but a bit uncertain as to how to handle the media aspect of being a Big Leaguer. I remember one of my first conversations with him. He told me how important it was to him to be able to speak English in his interviews, but he wasn’t comfortable. He was afraid he would say the wrong thing, that he would be misunderstood. He was driven by the example that Elvis Andrus set in establishing himself as player that could be counted on between the lines, as well as in post-game press conferences.
He worked tirelessly with Spanish broadcaster Eleno Orneles to improve his English. I can’t even count the number of conversations we’ve had over the last two years about how important it is to him that he be able to speak without a translator. And now he does. He speaks freely, much like the way he plays. He worked his ass off to get to that point, just like he worked his ass off to get back to the Big Leagues after being sent down to the minors last year. So if you’re going to judge him by a Jose Bautista right hook and a minor league melee, factor those things into your equation as well. And throw in his willingness to do just about anything to put a smile on anyone’s face, particularly if they’re shorter than him, aka kids ;).
Rougned Odor is not a thug. He is not an a-hole. He plays hard. All the time. And with a lot of emotion. Sometimes those emotions run a little high, playing a fiercely competitive game with extremely high stakes. But who am I to judge? I lose my shit on a regular basis sitting in a camera well. And you know what may be the greatest thing about Rougie? He’s not concerned about his reputation outside his clubhouse–to him, that’s the only one that matters.
I know what you’re thinking—I’d have a different take on Rougie if he wasn’t on my team. Maybe you’re right. But he is on my team, and I can say with certainty that the guys who wear the same jersey as Rougned Odor feel the same way.
Just my two cents, which is about all it’s worth. #uptop