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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.

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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?

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

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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.

Cowboys Should Raze the Roof Instead of Rangers Raising It

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I get a lot of criticism for claiming the Rangers aren’t appreciated in North Texas despite their recent success. And yes, if you base it on the attendance figures of the last two to three years, that criticism of my words is valid.

Like I said earlier, my beef primarily lies in television ratings and the like, but I will not deny the bottom line of winning has made a positive impact on their gate receipts.

Amazing, however that drawing that many in the last few years has done nothing to quell one of the biggest complaints about the team.

How can we praise our attendance figures and then claim that our Ballpark is hurting our chance at great attendance figures – to say nothing of the performance on the field?

I’m talking, of course, about the claim of how no one wants to go to the Ballpark because they can’t take the heat.

Despite all the good times the last few years in Arlington – and yes, these times ARE good – the complaints remain about the Rangers playing in an open-air outdoor ballpark in an area where in the summer double digit temperatures mean a cool front. There continue to be calls – mostly from the media, I will admit – for this franchise to start putting that Ray Davis and Bob Simpson money into building a roof over the Ballpark so the fans – and maybe the players – no longer have to suffer under Mother Nature’s wrath.

Does everyone really not see how ludicrous this sounds when you really think about it? Are we actually complaining that the Rangers, who play a game designed to be played on grass and dirt, actually have it be played OUTOORS??

Well, that’s because the Rangers can’t win constantly playing in the heat. It always wears them down and they are guaranteed to falter in the late months every single year. Unless you give them the comfort of playing indoors, they have no chance of going deep in October and reaching the World Series.

Except they did. Twice.

And that little bit about them not being able to pitch in the heat? The team ERA in each of the last four years: 3.93 (4th), 3.79 (5th), 3.99 (7th) and 3.62 (4th). Four straight years with a pitching staff in the top half of the American League – three of them in the top third.

Meanwhile, those same people who complain about Rangers Ballpark continue to gush and wax poetic on the Boss Hogg Bowl next door (I think it got a new name, sounds like some phone company, ah who cares) and how its enclosed roof and climate control are perfect for how all sports should be played in the 21st century.

(Yeah, can we stop calling it a retractable roof stadium yet? I’m more likely to get a date before the next time Jerry opens that roof, and I’ve already confined myself to dying alone.)

In other words, just another example of how the Cows do everything right and the Rangers CAN’T do anything right.

One problem, though. While the Rangers, with that horrible outdoor ballpark, have become one of the best teams in baseball on the field and at the gate, the Cows… well, the Cows suck, there’s no way around that.

Oh, the Cows still sell out games despite being one of the most unsuccessful teams for the past 17 years, and that has stuck in my craw for a long time. But now that I’ve thought of it more, why should it? The place may be selling out, but it’s not selling out with Cow fans.

Ask anyone who was at last Sunday’s game and they will likely mope about how many Bronco fans infested the home of “America’s Team” – just like the Bears and Steelers did last year. This actually makes a lot of sense. With five-figure seat licenses and 70 dollar parking, Jerry has made it impossible for most Cow fans to regularly come to his disguised country club. So while his teams fans are stuck watching on the screens at Hooters, visiting team fans will gladly use their saved vacation money to mark one more stadium off their tour list and see the pompous Cowboys get beat by their team.

Instead of trying to go on about why the Rangers need a roof, how about answering the question of why the COWBOYS need one?

Why does a team that plays in a region where the temperature rarely drops below 70 degrees before December and rarely below 50 before the new year have to play in enclosed climate control?

If anything, playing indoors could very well be a factor to the Cows’ failures – all that pampered comfort only produces a soft team that can’t handle the harsh elements in New York or Philadelphia come December.

Oh, sure, that theory has to be preposterous. Except that sonce the Cows last saw aSuper Bowl, 14 of the last 17 Super Bowl champions played home games outdoors. And 13 of them were in cold weather cities.

Heck, try telling a Packers fan in Green Bay that Lambeau Field needs a roof on it. They might give you a five minute head start to get out of town before the pitchfork crowd comes chasing (People in Wisconsin are nice like that).

So let’s recap: Since 2009 when JerryWorld opened, the Cows, with their luxurious, comfortable, climate controlled atmosphere, have a winning percentage 0f 50 percent, have won one playoff game and are only selling out because they don’t pull a San Antonio Spurs and deny ticket sales to anyone north of the Red River. The Rangers, meanwhile, playing outdoors in the unbearable “blast furnace” of the Texas summer heat, have four straight 90-win seasons with two trips to the World Series and have not only somehow become one of the top draws in baseball but have crowds that are actually supporting the home team.

Maybe instead Jerry should take a wrecking ball to his roof so his players – and fans in the stands – can get tougher.

But hey, maybe I’m comparing apples and oranges here in using Rangers vs. Cowboys in the indoors vs. outdoors debate. Maybe I should find an actual baseball team that plays in doors to compare the Rangers to… like the Houston Astros…

We Have a Lot of Work to Do to Be a Baseball Town

How do you exactly describe what it takes to be a “baseball town?”

After years of finishing in the cellar almost every year in the previous decade, we now can’t even enjoy the fact that there was excitement and a reason to watch come the end of September. That is, to those who were actually watching.

Even if the Rangers season came to a slow, silent end Monday night, the previous Sunday afternoon was everything I could have wanted, being there with friends as the Rangers pulled off what many thought impossible in sweeping a whole seven-game homestand just to make it to that tiebreaker.

But yes, I join in Ian Kinsler’s disappointment that there had to be at least 10 thousand empty seats at the Ballpark for this do-or die game.

Fueled by Josh Hamilton’s claim in April that this is “not a baseball town,” the people in this town seemed to take that as a rallying cry in proving him wrong. The result? Three hundred thousand less in attendance. And TV ratings no better than some of the reality TV garbage on the air now. Way to go.

The Angels, meanwhile, drew nearly the same attendance as the Rangers for a team that finished 18 games out of first place – and had another baseball team in their area that did make the playoffs, to boot.

Let me get this out of the way. One thing I have tried to avoid in my criticism of the support the Rangers get is the behavior of those who actually turn out at the Ballpark. The atmosphere within the Ballpark has indeed improved leaps and bounds from years ago, even though I wouldn’t go so far as to call them “the loudest in baseball.”

And no, I don’t mean to completely wave off the significance of them drawing 3 million in attendance for a second straight year.

But keep in mind, three million in attendance does not mean three million FANS in this area, it means three million tickets sold. And people buy tickets to multiple games. If 10 thousand have full season tickets and another 10 thousand have 27-game mini-plans, that’s a million tickets alone purchased by just 20 thousand people. Really, that three million mark could be accomplished by only six figures of persons.

And there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. It’s surely the same in all other cities that drew near the same amount as the Rangers. With ticket prices, travel times and other factors, there are several people in any major area that can’t attend games in person. I get that.

That’s why I consider TV ratings to be such a vital aspect in team support, and that is where we have still failed miserably and where it shows there is still a lot of work to do before this “baseball town” clam can be validated.

The numbers for the final game of the regular season spoke volumes in the lack of volume. The entire season on the line – if they don’t win, you don’t get to see another game until April – and last Sunday’s game could not even draw a 6 in the ratings. The Cowboys game, with their season not even a month into it? Drew four times that amount.

Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket, the station I have been berated to listen to under claims that “they do talk about the Rangers?” Monday was almost exclusively about the Cowboys, and BREAKING BAD. Virtually no talk about the previous day’s game or the tiebreaker that was to be played that night.

Which isn’t surprising, since shows like The Hardline supposedly declared the Rangers dead a month earlier.

That in of itself just reinforces how a football mindset continues to negatively influence the attitude toward baseball here. So many people just can’t grasp the unique concepts of the marathon that is a baseball season. They can’t understand that a six-game losing streak or a three-game deficit do not mean the end of a season, because they are too programmed from a sport where winning almost every game is expected and losing three in a row can in fact kill a season.

That is why people like Kinsler, Hamilton and Cliff Lee continue to take jabs at the Rangers fans for a lack of enthusiasm.

And as this year’s finish may have sadly secured that there won’t be another 3 million attendance mark next year, we may have to endure another off-season of free agents spurning the team to show how much they think a “baseball town” this truly is.

Rowdy Time Gamenight: 8/24/13

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RANGERS 2 @ WHITE SOX 3

RANGERS 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0
 WHITE SOX 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1

W – N Jones ; L – T Scheppers
HR – A Jones ; A Rios

FC DALLAS 2 vs SAN JOSE 2
G – Alan Gordon, 8′ , Steven Beitashour, 16′ , Blas Pérez, 19′ , Michel, 72′

ROUGHRIDERS vs MIDLAND

MIDLAND 1 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 10 
RIDERS 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2

W – Drew Carpenter L – Arlett Mavare
HR – Conner Crumbliss ; Teodoro Martinez

 AIRHOGS 1 @ WICHITA 7

AIRHOGS 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
WICHITA 2 3 0 0 0 0 2 0 13 

W – Justin Klipp ; L – Gabriel Garcia
HR – CJ Ziegler