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Rangers fans are screwed over by poor bus line

If there’s anything more frustrating than the Rangers’ performance so far this year, it’s been how few games I have actually been able to make so far. The biggest reason: Being unable to afford parking in addition to tickets.

For years I was lucky to live within just a couple miles of the ballpark, meaning I could make the trip on my bicycle with ease. Now, having to stay on the other side of town, I have no choice but to drive – meaning that with parking fees and gas, it simply isn’t affordable anymore. I know I’m not alone in this – especially given how many people here don’t even live in Arlington at all.

The really sad thing is that a new option was given to Arlington that could have opened things up for many more potential fans – if they hadn’t screwed it up so royally.

It was little less than a year ago that Arlington finally crawled out of the dark ages and agreed to a temporary partnership with DART in creating the MAX bus line. I was ecstatic when this came to be in August 2013. Nearly a year into the experiment – it’s almost painful to see how poorly it was set up, how little it actually serves the people and how it ultimately will doom the city’s chances of actually linking to the Metroplex full-time.

The MAX line is technically meant to link UTA with Dallas County and as much of the rest of the Metroplex as possible via the Trinity Railway Express station at CentrePort. In November, a midway stop was added that, on the surface, appeared to serve people coming to Arlington’s entertainment district and Lincoln Square.

What we got was a redesigned route with the addition of the extra stop that is so poorly planned that it just screams of being set up to fail from the beginning.

First, the midway stop is not adjacent to Globe Life Park, AT&T Stadium or any other place in the entertainment district at all. It’s not even in Lincoln Square. It’s next to one small strip mall on Collins Street about a block south of Lincoln Square, providing no easy access to anything that attracts traffic in North Arlington.

What’s worse, the route is now a loop – from CentrePort down Trinity and Collins to the downtown area and then back up to CentrePort via Division and 360 (or vice versa depending on the time of day). The midway stop is only driven by during the bus’ trip from CentrePort to UTA or the other way.

Also, service is Monday-Friday only. Granted, the TRE still does not run on Sunday, but the eventual completion of the Orange light rail line to DFW Airport in December will help alleviate that inconvenience.

It also doesn’t help that there do not appear to be any plans to extend the service in anyway, in a story The Shorthorn did on the MAX line, one big lament among students interviewed is that they cannot use the bus to travel to The shopping district with The Parks Mall or the Highlands.

In other words, there are probably more people on the Rangers’ disabled list than there are people that benefit from the line in its current format. And among those getting gypped are Rangers fans (and yes, possibly even Cowboys fans) that could benefit greatly from the easy access without forking over at least 20 (or 50) dollars in cash.

A better route for the MAX would have been as follows: A single path from CentrePort down 360 to Randol Mill, with the midway stop being near one or more of the stadiums, then Randol Mill and Center to the UTA stop. Then take the trip back to CentrePort with the same path in reverse (substituting Mesquite for Center since it’s one-way). To improve service further, the first stop should be at the airport (directly connecting to where the Orange line’s final stop will be) and then sopping at CentrePort. The line could then eventually be extended to go on past UTA to the shopping district.

Oh, and add Saturday/Sunday service as well.

I really don’t want to think that DART and the cities involved settled on this mess of a route to appease Jerry Jones, Ray Davis and Bob Simpson, who saw the line as a threat to their ability to soak their patrons in parking revenue. (Jerry once led an initiative to try and get Irving to pull out of DART; no info on what Ray & Bob might think.) But my gut tells me that just might be part of the issue, hence why the line had to wait a few months after the original launch while DART figured out what they could run.

How many potential Rangers fans could have been served with a better planned bus line? Sadly, we may never know.

The MAX line is contractually obligated to still run for anther year after August, at which point the city will have to decide whether to join DART full time, which will have to include some form of tax levy.

Chances are good something like that will not pass. Anti-transit pundits will shoot everything down and point out how little people used the MAX – even though a better planned route would have certainly meant more riders. And Arlington will cut off from the rest of the Metroplex again from everyone except the shrinking number of people who can afford personal vehicles.

Meanwhile, anyone in the mid-cities, especially Arlington, will be forced to keep paying skyrocketing gas prices they can’t afford to get anywhere in town. And adding parking fees that keep some of us from attending as many games as we otherwise could.

Can we try to show a little more class, Rangers fans?

Opening Day, perhaps the entire opening week of baseball, is supposed to convey a sense of optimism and good feelings. The fact that it coincides with the beginning of spring, the sense that everyone is undefeated and has hope…

And the best thing is that even if that opening game results in a loss, this is the one sport where you have the chance to go right beck out there and get another chance the next day.

Which is why the disappointment of Monday’s 14-10 defeat for the Rangers could quickly be wiped away thanks to Adrian Beltre doing what he does best and delivering the first game winning it of this year to give the Rangers their first win of the year. And many a Rangers fan celebrated by…

Taunting Ian Kinsler?

Yes, sadly rather than talk about the players currently wearing the Texas uniform, much of the talk on social media following the Rangers’ 3-2 win was about how the former Ranger’s wish that his old club not win a game all season did not come true. Stay classy, DFW.

It sadly seems like with this run of recent success by the Rangers has come an extreme load of vitriol by the “fan base” to spew hatred toward every player who parts ways with the club and wish the most horrible things on them – Michael Young, Josh Hamilton and now Kinsler and likely Nelson Cruz with him – the general attitude seems to be that if all these players died in a bus crash, “Baseball Town” would throw a big party.

Kinsler is a horrible individual because he was hurt at the way the club got rid of him. Josh is the worst human being alive because he voiced his frustrations that baseball will always be fourth class in North Texas. Michael Young was the worst player in Rangers history… because he was shut up.

Forget about Young getting more hits than anyone in team history, Josh’s legendary performance in the Home Run Derby, Kinsler as an AllStar or Nelly clubbing the Rangers to the pennant twice.

We’re just supposed to, what, pretend like someone else made those moments happen?

Oh, but Kinsler is deserving of being booed and taunted because he always lollygagged on the field and acted like he didn’t care. Which is why they traded him for… a guy who lollygagged on the field and acted like he didn’t care.

And Josh was dead dead wrong that this is not a baseball town… even though the attendance and ratings for Rangers games still can’t reach a third of what the Cowboys draw.

Of course, the unfortunate truth is that this has always been the case. You could probably count on one hand the total number of players who were still cheered after they left the Rangers.

Even Pudge Rodriguez, the greatest to wear the uniform, was universally bashed when the Rangers let him go following the 2002 season, saying how much better the team would be now that they would get a REAL catcher that could work with pitchers. (How well did that work out again?)

Texans like to believe they’re classier than those monsters up north in New York. But in this case, it appears words speak louder than… words spoken earlier.

And if you think we’re so much better than that, well… go find that picture again of how much garbage was piled on the statue outside Globe Life Park’s front entrance.

You know, the one of Shannon and Cooper Stone that was supposedly erected to show how great the fans in this area are?

Stay classy, DFW.

Rangers Shouldn’t Need the Russell Wilson Sideshow

Marc McLemore surely did not mind when the Rangers gave the No. 3 he had worn for years with the club to Alex Rodriguez, given what was expected of A-Rod when he came to Texas in 2001.

But you have to wonder what he feels of the person currently wearing that number in Surprise, AZ, right now.

The Rangers Spring Training facilities have suddenly become home to a media circus, with reporters from ESPN and the MLB Network and thousands of new fans in droves. But are they there to see the Rangers’ new acquisitions, or even the international star that is Yu Darvish?

No. All they care about is someone who’s chances of playing at Globe Life Park are beyond nil – Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who the Rangers acquired in the Rule 5 Draft last December.

The throngs in Surprise Stadium with footballs, not baseballs, to sign, made it clear they didn’t give a crap about the actual baseball players. One even showed up with a sign reading, “Sorry Rangers’ Fans, We’re Here For Wilson.”

“Hopefully, the Dallas fans won’t get too mad,” Wilson told USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale.

Consider this one Rangers fan more than a bit perturbed.

This is not what should be getting the Rangers a front-fold sports story in The Nation’s News.

Instead of focusing on whether Prince Felder will turn his career around now that he’s in new territory or whether Shin Soo Choo will live up to expectations, this Rangers’ preseason has been overtaken with the question of whether the current NFL champion will become the next Bo Jackson.

Really? Does anyone really think that’s going to happen? Forget whether someone who so far has a .229 average in two years at the lowest level has a snowball’s chance in You-Know-Where of making a team with an infield of Fielder, Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar – do you really think the Seahawks will allow their golden QB to take the field in another sport?

And there are definitely some within the baseball ranks not happy with Wilson taking up a Spring Training spot, like Giants pitching prospect Andrew Carignan, who Tweeted, “Hey, .230 hitters in A Ball, you want to go to a big league camp? Win a Super Bowl.”

The more I look at this, the more I get a bad gut feeling this has Ray Davis and Bob Simpson written all over it and that now that a certain strikeout king is no longer in North Texas, they feel free to churn out any sideshow-like activity that will draw the fringe media out there rather than actually let the club focus on the game itself.

General manager Jon Daniels is doing nothing to diffuse this situation, saying things like, “If we can just get Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Timberlake out here, we can take it to another level.”

Why? Why does a team that was in the freaking World Series less than three years ago and supposedly won this past off-season (which quite a few people seem to take stock in) need to send a sideshow from another sport in order to garner attention?

It seems the only one who is currently maintaining any sanity is Ron Washington, who has refused to allow Wilson to play the field or take batting practice.

Wash should get another year on his contract just for that decision alone.

He used the politically correct response of “Man, I can’t just do that. We wouldn’t be able to sleep the night on the half-percent chance that something would happen.”

I can’t help but wonder what the people in Seattle think of this. You would think they would be in an uproar that their meal ticket to football dynasty is even considering playing another sport. If so, it may be the first time Seattle fans and I ever agreed on anything. (Well, that and the fact that they got screwed out of their basketball team, but that’s another story.)

And before you accuse me of just being a whiner because of my well-known dislike of American football, let me ask this: What would you think if LeBron James showed up at Cowboys training camp in pads?

Do you think the Yankees or the Red Sox or the Dodgers would allow a sideshow like this to take over their preseason? This sadly goes to show once more, how little the Rangers are respected as an Organization and the lengths they must go to in order to garner attention.

That attention will all go away in a week or two when Wash is able to put that red card in Wilson’s locker (Do they still do that like they did in Major League?) signaling has being cut from Spring Training.

The good news: The real baseball players can get back to preparing for their season.

What’s in a Name? Rangers Ballpark Isn’t Sacred

Here we go again.

For the second time in its history, the Texas Rangers have sold out their ballpark’s naming rights, announcing the park will now be known as Globe Life Park in Arlington.

“You can probably guess how my Facebook feed was yesterday once the announcement was made. The most popular comment was the simply put, “I’ll still always call it Rangers Ballpark, dammit!!!”

And I just rolled my eyes, just like I did 10 years ago. Why?

Because I still remember back in 1993 when the previous ownership group headed by George W. Bush and Tom Schieffer first named the place The Ballpark in Arlington. NO ONE liked it. I remember a column in the Star-Telegram – I think it was Gil LeBreton that wrote it – comparing the ballpark to the Roman Coliseum and suggesting that whoever came up with that name should be thrown to the lions.

Then, once Tom Hicks took over and sold the rights to Ameriquest in 2004, suddenly everyone like the old name. they all celebrated when the Rangers had to take down the name three years later due to Ameriquest going under. Now, let the crying begin once more.

Now, I do have criticisms about naming rights on stadiums, but the criticism falls with the companies. I’ve never known why they think giving that much money just to slap their name on a building is a good advertising investment. If they’re willing to pay it, the clubs can go ahead and take it, but the fact that so many of these businesses have shut down afterwards seems to say it’s counterproductive. I’ve always felt that’s why Southwest Airlines didn’t buy the rights to the Dallas arena; they’re not known for making bad financial decisions.

I understood the dislike for the name “The Ballpark,” and to be honest, I was not crazy about the name “Rangers Ballpark” either. Maybe it’s just me, but slapping the team name on the stadium just says “We couldn’t think of anything else.”

Heck, I think “College Park Center” can come off as too generic a name, and I’m hoping UTA comes up with a better name down the line (I have an idea; check back with me in another year).

But so many people, for some reason these names are sacred. For so many sports fans, who hold up record books to a higher standard than The Bible, putting a company’s name on the building where they play is sacrilege. And with it comes the fear that one day, baseball uniforms will become the moving billboards that soccer jerseys and race cars are.

Therein lies the hypocrisy of many sports fans, a number of which appear to be within the Rangers’ brethren. They complain when ticket prices go up. They complain when parking rates go up. They complain when things like stadiums or uniforms have corporate tie-ins.

And yet they still expect the teams to spend spend spend and do whatever it takes to win, because it’s been assumed forever that money automatically equals championship. So what, the club’s owners are morally obligated to just throw away their own money and not expect a payout in return, just to let a bunch of other people live vicariously through their business to feel good about their own lives?

This Rangers ownership is not going to do that. Once again, this shows that Ray Davis and Bob Simpson are determined to not have the club fall into the bankruptcy it was in when they bought it back in 2010.

With a franchise that is always at risk of going back into the red in ticket sales with just one losing season, and a television deal that looks sweet but is almost certainly not guaranteed (with the Astros hating their Comcast deal and on the verge of bringing in Nolan Ryan, I’m more scared than ever FSSW may walk from the Rangers), the Rangers owners have to take every step possible.

So go ahead. Complain to the skies above about how putting a corporate name on the Texas Rangers ballpark is an affront to the baseball gods

Then tell me how those postseason games aren’t as fun anymore with the place sporting that name. They won’t be, right?

Maybe It’s Good to Not Take Losing as a Big Deal

I’m still taking the prospect of Prince Fielder as the Rangers’ first baseman with a grain of salt.

I am still very concerned how much such a presence in the lineup will hinder the club’s running game and defense, and only seeing results on the field will assuage me of these fears.

But for what it’s worth, there has already been one aspect about Cecil’s boy that can cause me to smile, and amazingly, it’s something that might rub others the wrong way.

One of the things that apparently caused Prince to wear out his welcome in the Motor City was what many perceived to be a lackadaisical attitude, particularly how he handled not just the Tigers’ inability to get the job done but his own postseason struggles. In 40 postseason at-bats this past year, Fielder failed to drive in one run. Then, once the Tigers were finished and Boston moved on to the World Series, his last words were, ““It’s not really tough for me, man. For me, it’s over, bro.”

This could be something that may ring familiar to some in North Texas.

One thing that supposedly started the questions about Tony Romo and his commitment was how he took the Cows getting booted in their one playoff game, at home, in his second year as their quarterback. He also more or less said he didn’t look at it as the end of the world.

This did not sit well with quite a few people who do take the success of the Cows as the be-all-end-all of their lives. How can Romo be so cavalier about a loss that was so devastating to those whose tickets pay his salary?

Maybe because people like Romo and Fielder have a bit more perspective than we do – BECAUSE they are the ones out on that field.

Too often we live vicariously through our sports teams, linking their on-field success with our own personal worth and success of our own lives. This can be especially true if our own lives are not at a point that we are that happy with.

I should know all too well. In 2011, I lost my biggest writing job. I still have not found anything close to what I was making with it since. Just about every day, I look at my own personal struggles and wonder what I did wrong.

So yes, the Rangers coming so close and having it taken away that year stung exceptionally hard. But dwelling on it isn’t going to change it, and Nellie making that catch ultimately wasn’t going to make tons of people come asking me to do work for them.

I had to move on from that season, but Nellie and the Rangers had to even more. So does every athlete that fails in the end.

Because they can’t let such a loss fester in their minds, as they have to get back up and go again next year.

Otherwise, you get people like Donnie Moore, who never got over blowing a save that cost the Angels the pennant in 1986 (largely because the fans never let him forget it) and finally took his own life three years later.

For me, it shows he has perspective.

Fielder had other issues going on in 2013, mostly wondering what would happen with his family as he struggled through a divorce. This can be a stressing issue for even a millionaire baseball player, and while being on the field can distract from that, it can’t completely eliminate its importance.

So yes, there can always be issues that are bigger for athletes than their immediate success on the field, just like there will be issues for all of us bigger than success at our jobs.

Fielder is reportedly ready to begin fresh with the Rangers. His words tell me that he might be thankful for other things in his life besides whether or not his career ends with a ring. And on the weekend when we all gave thanks, perhaps that is food for thought.

Lets all try to remember that just because an athlete doesn’t take every loss like the worst disaster in the world, it doesn’t mean he’s not committed. In fact, that could be something we could learn from.

Rangers Trade Ian For Prince… WHAT??????

DFWSportatorium - Logo6

What happened?

I come back from a long trip to Lexington to see the UTA Mavericks try their hardest but still get soundly beaten by Kentucky, and I expect things to be a bit calmer for at least a while. Ho boy, was I wrong on that.

Just hours after getting home, the news hit hard. Ian Kinsler gone – traded to the Detroit Tigers for… Prince Fielder???

Of course, everyone is dancing in the streets at this, especially shouting, “that worthless piece of sh*t Kinsler is gone!!!” Pretty much everyone in so-called “Ranger Nation” has spewed venomous abuse at Kinsler, acting like he was the absolute worst player ever and that they wouldn’t mind at all if he got hit by a semi several times. I’ve already seen posts about “addition by subtraction,” like he was this horrible person in the clubhouse too even though there is every indication he was the exact opposite.

Well, pardon me if I’m not among those declaring this to be the greatest move in the history of baseball and another shining reason why Jon Daniels is a greater genius than Stephen Hawking who has never made a bad move in his entire life.

When the Rangers failed to sign Fielder back in January of 2012, I breathed a sigh of relief, especially with the contract the Tigers ended up giving him. I didn’t want Texas throwing away that much money on his type of player then, so I do have precedent with this.

If I was more of a Grassy Knoll type of guy (ironic, given what anniversary is upon us), I might say this is yet another move Jon Daniels is making solely to try ad drive Ron Washington out of town. I will say this is a move that makes very little sense in that Prince Fielder is the exact opposite of everything Wash wants in a player and everything the Ranger shave stood for since 2009.

Once upon a time, the Rangers chose to build a team solely around big guys who hit for power and nothing else – no speed and no defense. It did not work, to say the least. Then Ron Washington came on board, and at long last things started changing. You had to be able to field your position well to get on the field. You had to be able to run and make things happen on the basepaths.

Well, that’s all out the window now, as the epitome of “can’t field and can’t run” will be wearing their uniform.

If Fielder is a full-time designated hitter and Mitch Moreland or almost anyone else plays first, this might look better. But within a short time after the trade, Daniels began saying that Fielder is definitely their first baseman. (Um, why is the GM and not the manager saying where someone is going to play months before spring training even opens?)

Remember how everyone complained about bad Michael Young was at first in 2011, how his lack of range killed a team that still was one play (elsewhere) from winning it all? Yeah, sure bet Fielder’s even worse. In fact, he should be legally required to change that name, because “fielder” isn’t anywhere in his game.

Basically, here’s the strategy for anyone playing against the Rangers: Hit a grounder. Especially to the right side.

People are quick to point out how the Tigers still made the World Series in 2012 and ALCS last year with not only Fielder at first but another limited defender in Miguel Cabrera at third. The Tigers could get away with that because their pitchers led the majors in strikeouts. Outside of Yu Darvish, the Rangers’ pitching staff is built around putting the ball in play and trusting their defense. Can’t do that anymore.

I get the logic. The Rangers desperately needed power, and the free agent crop in the department is thin. They had to pull off some type of move like this to improve there. But outside of hitting home runs, there pretty much is nothing else Fielder can do.

Heck, this will likely result in Adrian Beltre having the worst year of his life if he’s going to bat after Fielder. No more doubles for Belt; if he’s batting with Prince on first, he can’t get anything other than a single if he keeps it in the park, – even with a shot into the 407 gap, he’ll still have to stop at first because Prince can’t go past second.

Doesn’t it say something that the Tigers were willing to pull this trade just two years after giving Fielder a nine-year contract? At least A-Rod lasted three with the Rangers.

So basically, by making this trade, the Rangers took on someone with a contract with A-Rod-like implications and the inability to catch anything, and they have now quadrupled the demands for Jurickson Profar, so so far has failed to live up to all those lofty expectations. He now has to become one of the absolute best players in the game, or else.

If Fielder plays the field and Profar is anything less than an All-Star, don’t expect the Rangers to even come close to a tie-breaking game in 2014.

What has happened to me? At one time in my life, I was the pinnacle of seeing the Rangers through rose-colred glasses, to the chagrin of almost everyone I knew. Now, it looks to me like, little by little, this front office is destroying everything they built because the GM wants to treat them like a fantasy team and not an actual team. They’re slowly turning back into the Rangers of the 90s, and that’s not exactly a good thing.

I need to find something to take my mind off of this. Oh look, the Rangers have sent out their ads for next year’s season tickets.

There’s a picture of Kinsler on it. Smooth, Rangers.

Rangers Have Other Options to Sign Besides Just McCann

Two years later, many Mavericks fans are still pining over the loss of Tyson Chandler.

Samuel Dalembert’s 8.5 points and 7.3 rebounds through four games, while at least solid for the Mavs’ system, still probably isn’t quelling those gripes. Not until a Dalembert-led Mavs team is hoisting the same trophy that Chandler’s team did.

So what does this have to do with the Rangers and their off-season plans?

If there is one position in baseball that might be as important as a center in basketball, it just might be catcher. Some would argue about an ace pitcher, but given that you can only throw those out there every five days, few can impact a game more than a backstop that can handle a pitching staff, shut down or at least limit an opponent’s running game and possibly contribute with the bat.

The Rangers are still suffering from a revolving door at catcher ever since they let go of Pudge Rodriguez back in 2002. (That revolving door even involved bringing Pudge back for two months in 2009.) It’s actually impressive that they won consecutive pennants with two different catchers.

Which is why letting go of Mike Napoli was definitely one of Jon Daniels’ bigger mistakes. Seeing Nap celebrate in a Red Sox uniform this year (albeit playing at first base much of the time) didn’t help matters at all.

But hey, it’s all going to work out right? I mean, this is the year when the Rangers are finally going to open the purse strings and shell out all the money in the world to lure Brian McCann away from Atlanta, and then everything will be fine, right.

Hold the phone there.

McCann may be the most coveted free agent by Rangerville since, well, since they thought giving half a billion dollars to Alex Rodriguez was a good idea.

How well did that work out again?

It’s the same old lesson that virtually no one learns every year – signing big free agents to gluttonous contracts is NOT the path to success. After all, just how much of a threat have the Angels been the last two years in the games that count after winning the supposed January war each year? Arte Moreno is running his club into the ground with his reckless ways, and don’t think he’s learned anything. Odds are the Halos will overpay again for either McCann or Robinson Cano (another guy some think the Rangers actually have a shot at).

The Rangers’ best solution, instead, may instead be to inflict turnabout on the Red Sox by poaching their catcher. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, since being dumped by the Rangers in 2010, proved himself to be a serviceable backstop by playing more than 100 games with Boston each of the last three years. There is also the Phillies’ Carlos Ruiz out there, with an All-Star appearance as recently as 2012.

That isn’t to say there might not be some concerns about both. It could be a red flag that Salty had career highs in at-bats, batting average, hits and RBI in his free agent year. And Ruiz, who the Rockies are reportedly pursuing heavily, has rumors of a negative attitude.

But here’s one thing to keep in mind about both those players – nether was tendered a qualifying offer by their teams, meaning the Rangers won’t forfeit draft picks if they sight either one.

Don’t think that’s not important to JD and this organization. The ability to keep stocking that farm system remains every bit as important as the short term, and they don’t want to give up those draft picks easily. Think letting those picks go is no big deal? The number one reason the Angels’ system is so bare is because of all the draft picks they forfeited to give those ginormous albatross contracts to the likes of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.

Nothing they get this off-season will solve their problem beyond the short run. Above all else, if the Rangers want to stop this revolving door long-term, they need a catcher to come from within, like they had with Pudge.

So, as Norm Hitzges suggested yesterday, they really need just a 2-3 year window before Jorge Alfaro will hopefully be ready for a big league debut. After seeing catcher be one position the Ranger shave failed to develop for years, it would be a welcome sight.

Last off-season, people were definitely miffed that the Rangers settled for C-list talent in the free agent-trade market, and now more than ever they will be demanding A-list. But the truth is, being smart and grabbing B-list.

People keep telling me to trust in JD’s plan, even now that the “baseball guy” Nolan Ryan is no longer present. Well, then, you have to know that plan hasn’t involved always grabbing the best free agents and overspending. So nobody get their hopes up and decide it’s McCann or bust this off-season.