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Rangers are In No-Win Situation at the Box Office

I don’t think it’s an unfair claim to say that attendance figures will plummet for next year for the Rangers if they fail to make the postseason, given their track record of having among the worst bandwagon fans in all of sports. But unfortunately, there may be other reasons there will likely be fewer at the Ballpark in 2014.

Last night, Derek Holland, Alex Rios and the Rangers kept hope alive for one more day, as Rios hit for the cycle in a 12-0 win over the Astros. But as the players on the field are trying to ward off the sad disaster the season has become, their ticket representatives may be looking at another disaster.

For it was just a few weeks ago that the front offices sent season ticket holders information on next season in addition to this year’s playoff tickets (To think the latter was once a given). This has apparently included a substantial price increase over the next year. According to at least one of my fellow die-hards, ticket prices for the Rangers will undergo a 115 percent increase in two years. As a result, I know of a couple of people already declaring they won’t renew their full plans, opting for mini-plans at best.

To be fair, you cant accuse the Rangers of not reaching out. One of said angry ticket holders got himself a meeting with a front office representative to air out his grievances, which include how the team has neglected to make seat repairs and other small improvements in the Ballpark’s upper levels. I have yet to hear how this meeting went.

As someone who has had to drop and renew season tickets frequently over the years due to various issues, I can understand the plight of those who are finding their wallets pinched by skyrocketing prices. Bit I’m also not naive to reality and don’t understand why this is happening.

It’s clear the Rangers’ ownership is dead set on one thing: This team is going to be profitable and will not see the financial disaster it endured just three years ago. Ray Davis and Bob Simpson will not let this become a franchise relegated to league control and put up for public auction again.

I remember a time when tickets were a bit more affordable. I remember when among the things i was handed at the gate regularly were vouchers for ticket discounts. Sounds like a great thing, right?

Well, that was during the Tom Hicks era. Remember what the play on the field was like back then?

Thus is the list of eternal demands a legitimate contending team must suffer from its fan base every year: Spend more than any franchise out there, don’t let any player get away in free agency and bring in every player that is a free agent from other teams as well. Do absolutely everything it takes to guarantee a championship. Oh, and keep ticket prices affordable while you’re at it.

In other words, the fans pretty much demand that their teams <em>intentionally</em> lose money each year to get them (the fans) a winning team for them to trumpet.

Other teams have had to search for other ways to bring in needed revenue. The St. Louis Cardinals just had to let a college football game take place in Busch Stadium the past weekend due to the fact that the resources in St. Louis are limited despite their recent success and most loyal fan base in the world. As a result, their field is going to be in no good condition for the playoffs thanks to the football players tearing it up.

If these fans are going to expect the Rangers to spend through the nose to not lose in the offseason again (and they’ll have to grossly overspend to get any player to want to come to Football Town), they actually have to find a way to make that money somewhere.

Yes, they’re only another year or so before that gigantic TV deal from Fox Sports Southwest kicks in. I still say it’s not a guarantee that deal’s set in stone, and I wouldn’t be surprised if FSSW uses an out clause in the deal if the Rangers are not WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS by the time it’s supposed to kick in.

So there is only one proven option for generating revenue, and it looks like no matter what they do, they rangers are going to see ticket sales drop, be it from the team not absolutely dominating on the field or gripes about costlier tickets.

You’ve got a choice, season ticket holders: Endure rising prices, or go back to a team with no chance of contention. Whichever you think is more endurable.

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Jon Daniels is Good, But He’s Not Irreplaceable

Say what you want about Randy Galloway. The guy knows how to get people talking.

Mister Wimp Free Sports Talk caused quite the stir last week in the Star-Telegram when he suggested that, above all else, Jon Daniels needs to be the first one held responsible for a Rangers season that has become heartbreaking in a hurry for everyone who wasn’t already wanting it to stop getting in the way of their Cowboys. And that if anyone needed to be fired for this season, it was the general manager.

Thus spurred the outrage toward one of the few in talk radio who has actually covered major league clubhouses regularly in his lifetime, accusing Galloway of outright trolling to saying he shouldn’t wait until year’s end to conclude his radio career.

Galloway certainly has his haters, especially among those who blindly follow a certain AM radio station that might not be in existence had people like him not started sports talk in North Texas. But just because someone says something outlandish to sell papers doesn’t mean there might not be some validity to his words.

Let’s get this out of the way: No one is denying all the good work Jon Daniels has done as general manager of the Rangers, from fleecing the Braves in the Mark Teixeria trade to correctly bidding on Yu Darvish to having patience with Ron Washington (up to this point).

And let’s face it, compared to another team living next door, the Rangers can consider themselves lucky they have a real GM at all.

But let’s be honest. Anyone who would think that Jon Daniels is infallible, or even so much better than any other GM in MLB, is setting themselves up for disappointment in the long run.

With the good has come the bad, like dealing away the likes of John Danks and Adrian Gonzales. I won’t even get into the Chris Davis issue  because that can be argued in so many ways.

And specifically, when you look at this year, I don’t see how you can’t look at the moves Daniels didn’t make. Moves that even I have to admit would have put the Rangers in better position rather than just signing the likes of Lance Berkman and A.J. Pierzynski.

I’m guessing many still agree that letting Josh Hamilton go was the right thing. But how much better would they be if Mike Napoli was still here? How much less complaining about David Murphy’s lack of production be if Daniels had pulled the trigger and traded for Justin Upton?

Anyone who assumes that this winter JD will be Mister Whiz Kid again and make all the right moves to guarantee another World Series run, remember:

It’s clear that any trade during the winter meetings will have to include Perez, Profar or Leonys. Virtually every club out there is demanding one of those, and JD has constantly refused, instead forcing Washington more or less to keep Profar on the roster when there remains no place to put him full time. If he’d been willing to part with one of them, Upton might be wearing a Rangers jersey right now.

Yet he was willing to part with Mike Olt when the Rangers still have no production at first base to get a starting pitcher (an area they haven’t struggled in) who so far has a 4.94 ERA with Texas?

And free agents coming here? Well, I’ve never been big on rebuilding that way anyway, but there haven’t exactly been a lot of those coming here, have there? How much does the GM have to take responsibility for that?

As I’ve said before, Daniels seems to be quickly becoming not well liked among players. A few already in the Rangers clubhouse refuse to talk to him, only to assistant Thad Levine. And once again, hearing the grumblings in other clubhouses from people like Cliff Lee after the Michael Young trade, it looks like more than a few others don’t seem to care for the way the Rangers do things either. And that can’t be good for luring them to Arlington.

Some here continue to brush this off, saying money and the chance to win the World Series will simply lure people here no problem, But the Rangers don’t overpay anymore, the Giants and Cardinals have proven there are other teams you can win on, and oh yeah, how many players has that idea brought in here again? (Aside from Adrian Beltre, who never would have even spoken with the Rangers if the Angels’ Jerry DiPoto hadn’t had a brain fart.)

I’ve been worried for about a year now that Daniels has been getting too much of an ego, starting to believe his own press a bit much. Those promotions he got over the winter may not have helped. Remember, pride always cometh before a fall.

I’m not outright saying JD needs to be fired. But I won’t say getting rid of him would destroy the franchise. Slip Levine into that job, retain the same scouts and player development director, and my feeling is the Rangers wouldn’t miss a beat.

Remember, all the things JD’s supporters are saying about him are pretty similar to what was said about Theo Epstein. Yet the Red Sox were willing to let him go after their debacle of 2011. Two years later, the Red Sox have returned to the top, while Epstein – well, it is still early, but the Cubs haven’t been exactly shaking up the world.

Nor did the Rangers when they lured away the previous golden boy in John Hart, who was supposedly a genius for building Cleveland into a contender. His time in Texas – well, Galloway called him the Empty Golf Shirt for a reason.

Daniels has definitely had a body of work better than Hart’s. But if this season ends the way it’s looking more and more, even he can’t be excused from blame.

And if the Rangers do decide such a change is needed, we may ultimately see he was more expendable than many thought.

Enjoy the Pennant Race? Not Allowed in Ranger Nation

It’s September. Which means the sports populace in North Texas is doing one of two things. They’re strutting around town wearing their Cowboys jerseys and waving their middle fingers at everyone wearing a Rangers/Mavericks shirt and saying “Five time Super Bowl champs! You guys haven’t won jack!” (Yeah, the 2011 Mavericks would like a word with you.) Or, they’re taking to the social media sites posting about how they have the absolute worst team in Major League history that somehow is on pace for another 90-win season.

Jeff Cavanaugh of the G-Bag Nation is once again calling for the “Rangers Panic Room,” which translates to “we’re not gonna win! Give up! Shut yourself up in a hole and don’t let people know you’re a Rangers fan because you should be ashamed to be one!”

Yu Darvish has suddenly been compared to Tony Romo as a guy who will never get the job done in the clutch with less than two years in the bigs.

All because it’s September and the Rangers are not 10 games up in first place, allowing the elitist sports fans of DFW to just sit back and say how boring it is waiting for the playoffs to come.

Richie Whitt recently called out Rangers fans for declaring the season was dead, because their team was currently tied with the Oakland A’s for first place in the American League West with 25 games to play. Naturally, his legion of haters struck back, calling him everything from a racist to a jackass to someone who never deserved to be on the radio. What they couldn’t call him, however, was wrong.

Even I, a longtime supporter of Mr. Whitt, will admit he can come off as not the most supportive of the game of baseball.

And yet he just hit the nail right on the head about the so-called baseball fans in this area. What does that say?

Before getting drilled 11-4 Thursday afternoon in Oakland, the Rangers went 31 straight games holding their opponents to five runs or fewer, tying the 2009 Dodgers for the longest such streak since the Rangers’ inaugural year of 1972. Remember when we only dreamed of consistent pitching and defense like that, saying it would never happen in the blistering heat and jet streams of Rangers Ballpark?

And yet while some do point out that the struggles do in fact lie with the fact that Texas has averaged less than three runs per game since pounding Felix Hernandez and the Mariners for 12, the blame somehow shifts to the pitching, with the target squarely on Yu Darvish’s back.

All because the man on pace to strike out 300 this year can’t win 2-0 games all the time. Darvish is 11-2 when the Rangers score at least 4 runs for him in his starts. But because he game up the tying and go-ahead home runs to Minnesota after throwing a no-hitter for six innings, he’s worse than Edwin Correa.

Twenty-nine other teams would love to have Darvish in their rotation. To Rangers fans, they’re still wishing Cliff Lee was still in a Texas uniform. Even though Lee had a losing record with the Rangers, including two losses in the World Series, and has been only average to good at best since leaving.

But in Lee’s case, it was all no run support. In Darvish’s case, lack of run support doesn’t exist. If they don’t score once for him, he’s still supposed to win. And the fact that he doesn’t proves he’s a worthless bum to these people.

Oh, and let’s not forget that Lee gets a free pass because “they wouldn’t have made the World Series without him.” Well they wouldn’t have made the Series in 2011 without Nelson Cruz. Yet 99 percent of the people here go to bed hoping Cruz gets hit by a car because of that missed fly ball – whether he got suspended for PED use or not.

No mention at all of the positives. No mention of the unbelievable job that rookie Martin Perez has done. In his last four starts, Perez has been matched up against King Feilx twice, Chris Sale and Bartolo Colon – and out pitched and beat them all.

Not good enough. All you hear about is what they do wrong, and how that is guaranteed to ensure this club has absolutely no chance in hell of even getting close to the postseason, just like they fail to make it every single other year of their entire existence (Hello? Anyone remember 2010? 2011?) and we should just look forward to another fall saved by the greatness that is the Dallas Cowboys because they are a stone cold lock to win the Super Bowl every single year without fail (except for, you know, every single year since 1996).

To hear the Twitter posts every time the Rangers lose – which, for the six million people in this town who know absolutely nothing about baseball, happens at least a third of the time to every single baseball team out there – you would think the Rangers are a million times worse than the Houston Astros. As in, the Astros team that reached 90 losses before August even came to an end.

Here’s what the Rangers really are: a really good team that is in a dogfight with another really good team in the same division. It’s anyone’s fight. And that’s not good enough for Dallas-Fort Worth, an area who’s fan base does’t believe in anything being fought for or earned, just coasted to easily.

Once again, a metropolitan area that saw its football team win five Super Bowls by no fewer than 10 points will settle for nothing less than domination; win every single game by multiple points/runs/whatever the hell you call it so we don’t actually have to stay for the entire game. The merry-go-round goes round for the people that drove Michael Young, Pudge Rodriguez and countless others out of town form being something less than absolutely perfect.

I know I’ve said this like a broken record. It’s because I keep hearing that record being played by other people.

Enjoying the fact that North Texas has a baseball team that consistently contends now after years of being a laughingstock? Forbidden in this area.

No matter what the Rangers do the rest of the year, there will be whining. They could go 23-0 the rest of the way and see Nellie Cruz come back for the postseason and this year make that catch to win the World Series. But there will still be nothing but complaining from this fan base.

And then they will spend the winter complaining why no one wants to sign here and how another player dared say this is not a “baseball town.”

If the Rangers Can Take the Heat, We Can

It’s getting a bit mundane to see the Rangers play against the Astros now. Another series, another sweep.

When Adam Rosales slid home for the winning run on Wednesday, the Rangers upped their record against their new division mates to 14-2 on the year. With six wins against them in the last 12 days, the Rangers can really thank Houston for helping get them a multi-game lead in the American League West once again.

But there should be more to this whipping up on Mosquitoville than just bragging rights in the state. This should be the ultimate example of finally putting to rest that tired argument that this team should be playing indoors.

To this day, there are still those constantly griping about the Rangers playing in the open air of what was originally called The Ballpark in Arlington, forcing fans and players to endure the intense summer heat of the Lone Star State. How dare they build an outdoor stadium back in a time when indoor parks were considered the devil?

Yes, how soon we forget that in the early 90s, it was beyond frowned upon to build an indoor facility, even one with a retractable roof, spurred on by the outright ugliness and uniformity of the likes of Toronto’s SkyDome, Montreal’s Olympic Stadium and especially the stadium the Astros were currently playing in. You want a throwback to what indoor stadiums were once like? Go to Tampa’s Tropicana Field.

The Astros, meanwhile, were supposedly the ones who did it right in 2000. After 35 years of playing in the Astrodome, the Astros moved into Minute Maid Park, a facility that was supposedly done right in every way, with its retractable roof and unique design that would allow the best of both worlds. It was the park the Rangers SHOULD have built.

And what has playing in that modernized, enclosed-when-they-want-to ballpark done for the Astros?

One less trip to the World Series than the Rangers.

And at the moment, a record that’s a whopping 32 games worse than their North Texas counterparts.

Now, naturally there’s a big difference in the talent level between the two teams, made blatantly obvious by the fact that almost the entire Houston roster is barely making over the league minimum.

But the cry for years was that the climate conditions at the Ballpark would always negate the talent level. The heat would wear down the players and they could never have the stamina to perform late in the year. The jetstream into right field made it too much of a hitters park, and thus they would never have good enough pitching to consistently win.

Yet not only are the Rangers once again right there in first place for the fourth straight year, not only are they perhaps playing at their best in the middle of the “dog days,” but – gasp – they still have the 4th best ERA in the American League.

Looks like not worrying about the heat, hitting your spots and keeping the ball down CAN overcome the conditions. It just took people like Nolan Ryan and the Maddux brothers to drill that mindset into the players.

And how about the claims that no one wants to show up at the Ballpark in our insane temperatures? You know, it’s funny how many who get on my case for saying the Cowboys will always keep people away from the Ballpark are among the most vocal at saying the heat will do the same.

Well, looks like we’ve both been wrong. Yes, there was a dropoff in gate receipts over June and July (which corresponds with the team’s dropoff on the field that temporarily knocked them out of first). Yet the Rangers remain second in the American League in attendance behind only the Yankees.

The Astros with their climate-controlled comfort are second-to-last. Apparently air-conditioned garbage is still hard to put butts in the seats.

Our modern day society spoils us, there is no doubt about that. We’re able to go anywhere we want in our motorized vehicles to get our lunch in a matter of minutes with no effort on our part. We want comfort all the time.

But with a team looking to make the postseason once again, maybe we should be thankful for what we have and not worry about how it should be better.

Maybe learning to play in the tough conditions have managed to toughen up this team, giving them the strength to deal with the pressure of a pennant race. (And maybe that’s something a certain football team living next door could learn.)

In the meantime, maybe a few fans and pampered media members should learn to deal with less than perfect, non-artificial conditions. Hey, sweating off a few pounds won’t kill you.

It’s better than looking at the standings and seeing your team more than a month out of first.

Astros Might Not Be the Rangers’ Whipping Boys Forever

Jim Crane might want to double-check the lease on Minute Maid Park and make sure his team’s name is on it and not the Rangers.

Yeah yeah, I know, old joke. But it’s still amazing just how badly our guys in North Texas have dominated this year in the city Randy Galloway loves to call Mosquitoville.

The Rangers opened the 2013 season at the park formerly known as Enron and got drilled 8-2. They did not lose in Houston for the rest of the year, finishing 9-1 on the road against the Astros.

The streak was completed by the same person who started it. In two starts this year in Houston, Yu Darvish allowed two hits in 17 innings – none prior to the eighth in either game.

Of course, they haven’t been the only ones to kick the Astros around. While the Rangers made the incredible comeback from six games back to one game up in nine days, Houston has now dropped back to 31 games out of first. A full month behind the leader in the division.

I get the feeling more than a few fans in H-Town wish they’d never left the league where pitchers are still forced to bat. Well, here are a couple of things to try and ease the pain.

First, it’s doubtful that the Astros would be any better if they were still in the National League Central, given that the Cardinals and surprising Pirates are battling for baseball’s best record in that division.

And second, it’s likely they won’t be the Disastros for much longer.

To say Houston has a young inexperienced team is an understatement. Eric Bedard is the only Astros player to currently make more than $505,000 (the league minimum is $490,000)

But while the Astros may be bringing up the rear in the American League, their farm system has the best record in all of baseball. Amazingly, just a few years ago, the franchise had cellar dwellers at the major, AAA and AA levels; now, both Oklahoma City and Corpus Christi are looking to the postseason.

And it’s not like there isn’t some promise with the group currently on the big league roster, especially with the battery the Rangers faced in their last game.

Finding a good catcher can be a headache, as we have seen in these post-Pudge days, but the Astros may have something in Carlos Corporan. In the ninth inning on Monday, when Corproan made a snap throw to first to nearly pick off Craig Gentry, Tom Greive couldn’t help but compare him to The Magnificent 7 with how he screened himself behind the left-handed batter to try and fool the runner. A few pitches later, Corporan fired a very Pudge-like bullet to second base to gun down Gentry.

It was also Corporan who ruined Darvish’s second attempt to no-hit the Astros this year with his home run in the eighth inning. With seven homers (tied for fifth on the team; Jason Castro and Matt Dominguez are tied for second with 14 each) and 31 total runs (15 R/16 RBI) in just 46 games, he has the promise of being a run producer behind the plate.

And it looks like Brett Oberholtzer has finally figured things out. Called back up from Oklahoma City after the Bud Norris trade and thrown into the rotation, Brett has actually been more than pretty good; the two the Rangers scored off him in the first inning Monday are so far the only runs he’s allowed in three starts. Texas handed him his first loss, making it his first start that he didn’t get out of the seventh inning.

While a third straight 100-loss season looks inevitable, at least the Astros are doing it right in trying to build. With the franchise having poached Nolan Ryan’s son Reid to be team president, running a group led by general manager Jeff Luhnow and and some good throwbacks to the Astros’ previous success (including Craig Biggio as a special assistant and Quinton McCracken as director of player development), the Astros are clearly focused on this amazing new tactic of building from within that is actually now seeing success in the game.

Compare that to the mess in Anaheim, CA, where the Los Angeles Angels of Orange County Or Whatever are loaded down with too many ginormous contracts given to players who simply are not living up to them. Already people are speculating that the Angels won’t be able to pay up to their lone bright spot, Mike Trout, when his time in arbitration comes, thanks to the millions they’re paying Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols to not do much. The cellar looks a lot closer in the future for the the Halos than the postseason does.

In the meantime, the Rangers have six games left in Arlington this year to beat up on the Astros, and they might have another year of using them as a chew toy. But we’d better enjoy it while it lasts, because eventually this Lone Star battle might become a war.

Time For Baseball to Align Geographically?

Wow. Still amazing that, going into tonight, the Rangers still have 10 games left against the Houston Astros.

And I don’t just mean that because it should mean at least seven more wins on this season.

I mean, it may still take some getting used to that now each year there will be three opportunities to make just that four hour trek down Interstate 45 to catch the Rangers in a venue other than Arlington.

The Rangers do now have it lucky that they finally have a division opponent within more than decent proximity to them after years of nothing but West Coast hell. But more than that, the inner state rivalry between these two teams takes on much new meaning (It might take on even more if the series was competitive, but there’s only so much we can do).

Major League Baseball first experimented with this when they debuted interleague play in 1997, finally allowing the Mets/Yankees, Dodgers/Angels and Cubs/WhiteSox to play in actual meaningful games. The rivalries between inner city/inner state teams was stoked further.

Except for the Rangers and Astros, who were prevented form such games because they weren’t in corresponding divisions (American League West vs. National League Central). Chalk up one more negative to the Rangers’ division.

Funny enough, it was supposedly years ago that MLB first gave them this opportunity by offering to move the Rangers to the National League; Tim Hicks turned it down in favor of giving

But in the end, it all worked out as it led to freeing up the chance to break baseball from the monotonous division-only interleague play, and now the Rangers get their state division rival while remaining in the better American League.

And now perhaps MLB should take the next step toward expanding this in it most radical change ever.

I can be very critical of the NBA, and likely will once its season starts up, but the one thing I do like is the basis for how they align the league. They definitely need improvement in their current alignment (stay tuned), but the fundamental principle of organizing everything geographically is there.

And the NBA is not alone in this. It’s the same format that the NHL uses and college sports… Well they USED to do.

Maybe it’s now time for baseball to consider this and look to a complete realignment based solely on regions and not an antiquated league format.

Don’t think I’ve always had this idea. When I was a kid, a Rangers/Astros World Series was my dream. (And believe it or not, there was a time when the Astros had a team with the potential to do this.) But now, the idea of the league having more opportunities for fans to travel to games looks like a much more beneficial option.

Can you imagine what Yankees/Mets or Giants/Athletics would be like if they got to play 18 times a year and were actually fighting for more than bragging rights?

How much would attendance and ratings jump if not only were there even more games with even closer proximity, but the fact that an entire region was battling for a single playoff spot?

And from our own perspective, how much better would it be to maybe, just maybe, have the Rangers in the same division as teams in their own time zone??

Baseball has always been the slowest to change, and that has hurt it in more recent years. Many purists would scream and cry against a change like this to the bitter end.

But 20 years ago, the prospect of inter league play was still unheard of. Even after that, the possibility of a team changing leagues was preposterous. Heck there was a time when divisional play was considered heresy.

But times change. And it may be time for baseball to get even closer, geographically speaking, to its audience.

Suspensions Allow Many to Reveal Their Ethics and Sanctimony

Have you ever fudged on your taxes? Cut in front of someone in line? Done a few miles per hour over the posted speed limit?

If so, maybe you should think twice before condemning Nelson Cruz or any other member of the Biogenesis Bunch, branding them as worse human beings than Charles Manson.

The decision has gone down, and Cruz is among the dozen players reluctantly accepting to be suspended for the rest of the year (It’s either 50 games or 50 days; I’ve heard both and still am not sure which) for nothing more than being linked to a lab distributing performance enhancing drugs and not failing a single drug test. Expect the owners to be making plans to blacklist these players over the final two months to ensure none of them get a contract again as MLB continues its crusade against the unforgivable evil of performance enhancing drugs – the ones whose effects led to their coffers getting filled 15 years ago.

Already the fan base is split and crying, as this was a no-win situation for Nellie either way. Accept the ban, and he’s walking out on his teammates as they rush to catch the A’s in the standings. Appeal like A-Rod, and he refuses to “be a man” and admit his mistake.

Cruz, for what it’s worth, has issued a defense. According to KRLD’s Mike Young, Cruz suffered from a serious illness following the 2011 season that caused him to lose several pounds. At the suggestion of his agents, he obtained medication from Biogenesis. He has now fired those agents.

Personally, I trust Young as a journalist, so I see no reason to doubt this. But I know a bunch of holier-than-thou fans refuse to accept this and fully believe he was shooting himself up with a pint of steroids a week. They want any reason to castrate a professional athlete in order to make their own miserable lives look better, and this is prime fodder for them.

Of course, many of these are the same people who likely would have loved to see Cruz die of that illness since his failure to catch that final out in the World Series so horribly ruined THEIR lives.

And no, I don’t buy the claim that: If Cruz really was just after medication, MLB would have gone easy on him, just like they did before with Gio Gonzalez.

Different scenario; MLB wants no leniency this time, as they are on a crusade to liberate baseball from this unforgivable evil and come off as the great shining white knights out to save the sacred game. Even though I wouldn’t put it past a few of these owners to have slipped in the drugs themselves in the 1990s. In fact, I’d bet that their leniency in Gio’s case led them to refusing to do so now, since they missed out on a chance to make a statement then.

But what’s worse is this: Nelson Cruz could possibly never play baseball again. Aaron Hernandez, on the other hand, could technically suit up for an NFL team tomorrow.

I know what a radical statement this is, given that the former New England Patriots player is currently behind bars awaiting his murder trial. But you can’t tell me that at least 10 to 15 teams haven’t at least considered going to a judge and arguing that signing him to a contract would give Hernandez the incentive to honor bail, thus allowing his release and giving said team at least one season with him as court proceedings drag out.

Now yes, Hernandez can’t sign with anyone without the commissioner’s approval; of course, no team can sign any player without that. And Roger Goodell is just the type of person that might just stamp his foot and prevent an accused murderer from being signed.

But why not just make it completely official and suspend Hernandez indefinitely? Why not take the stand Robert Kraft did, stating that Hernandez putting himself in such a situation is enough to make him someone the Patriots don’t want to be associated with, guilty verdict or no?

Of course, Goodell’s attempt to ban players from intentionally and seriously hurting each other on the field failed miserably. Michael Vick was allowed to return to the field after slaughtering dogs, and Donte Stallworth and Leonard Little were allowed to keep playing after killing people with their cars. It’s only a small step for the NFL players union to say “ you don’t have the right to deny someone’s ability to make millions just because he’s ACCUSED of blowing a guy’s head off!!”

And that’s the big thing here. There is a bit of a difference between taking drugs to improve your performance on the field and TAKING AWAY ANOTHER PERSON’s LIFE. I hope to never commit an act of violence against another person, which is why I have no issue being judgmental on Hernandez.

But sadly, as Cruz and A-Rod are being castrated in the media while other NFL players walk the streets wearing “Free Aaron” caps, it’s clear what we as an overall society think is worse.

It shouldn’t be too surprising, coming from a society that has glorified violence and death all the way back to the ancient Romans.

But it’s still a bit disheartening to think that in three years, Aaron Hernandez could be wearing a jersey again while Nellie Cruz may not.