I’ve been there beside this miserable team since the very beginning. It’s not just that I’ve been attached to players like Pudge Rodriguez. It’s that I’ve been attached to players like David Clyde. I’ve been attached to Jeff Burroughs (Had a poster of him up in my room as a kid…all the while knowing that he was nowhere near the stature of Aaron and Rose….the other guys I had posters of) I’ve been attached to Jim Sundberg, and Jim Fregosi. I’ve been attached to Toby Harrah, and Bump Wills. I was attached to Fergie Jenkins (my Mom bought me an autographed copy of his book for my birthday) and Bert Blyleven. I was attached to Buddy Bell, and Mike Hargrove.
I was attached to Nolan Ryan…
Holy cow, NOLAN RYAN was Texas Ranger!!! After all those names I just mentioned, it still seems like those were dream years. But they weren’t. And soon after Nolan came a whole other group of players that I was REALLY attached to. Names of players who will one day be in the Hall of Fame:
Not only were they great players, they even had real baseball nicknames. They even went to the playoffs. Twice. Lost to the dreaded Yankees. (Yes, I went to those playoff games) And it seemed like the Rangers were finally digging themselves out of a twenty-year hole. They were finally winning. Sure, the pitching sucked. But the HITTING!!! It was amazing. We were so pleased to not be at the bottom of our division that we didn’t know to complain about the pitching. It made all those years of being attached to Oddibe McDowell seem like they were somehow worth it. It was as if twenty-years of misery might finally be vanquished forever.
But something about winning a little makes you want to win even more. And so, those two trips to the playoffs simply made us all want for more. But it didn’t happen. The club started to fall backward. Free agency meant that there was no way to keep the team’s core together (at least, with this owner…). I kept thinking that if they’d just get a pitcher or two, it would all be better.
And every off season, I would chant what became my Ranger-mantra. It was a variant of the old Clinton campaign mantra:
It’s the pitching, stupid.
It’s not the hitting. It’s the pitching. We’ve got to get us some pitching in here.
So, what do they do? With the core of the Rangers only good team falling apart, the new management signs Alex Rodriguez. I can hardly stand to say the name. I am still so mad at Hicks, still so disgusted that this selfish, conceited player was ever in a Ranger uniform. And even though he’s now been gone a few years, we (or better yet, Hicks) are still, literally, paying for it.
So, the point is, sometime these last few years –between the trading/selling off of the incredible core of a good team, and the bonehead signing of A-Rod– these owners lost me. They just lost me. They needed to take this team in a positive direction. They needed pitching, and they went for hitting. They HAD the core of a good, good team….the thirty-year support of fans like me….and they crapped it away. Just flushed it down the toilet.
So, yes, I cannot love this current team. I really cannot get into Michael Young, and it’s totally not his fault. I can’t afford to get too excited about Mark Texiera. I’m not even sure I spelled his name right, and I don’t care enough to look it up.
The sad thing is? I vaguely realize that these guys play hard. I vaguely realize that they show up each and every game, and work their butts off. It doesn’t matter. Because I don’t think the owners want to win. I don’t think the owners have the heart to win.
And, I’ve just poured my heart and soul into the Mavericks; and before them, my beloved Texas Longhorns.
Look at Cuban. I used to think the guy was an idiot. Now, I think he’s a genius. Cuban knows two things:
1) He wants to win, and
2) He’s nothing without the support of the fans.
Cuban may be crazy. But he admits when he’s wrong. He’ll be honest about when he’s made a mistake. And he knows that his fans are everything…and that without them, nothing else matters.
How crazy was it for him, or for Avery Johnson, to say all year “we will not be satisfied until we’re in the finals?”
THAT’S what you need from your owners/managers…you need them to believe you can overachieve (the Mavs DID this year…). You need them to help you believe. You need them to help your players believe.
Or, look at Mack Brown. Look how positive he was all season. We will not be satisfied until we are champions, he said. It’s not enough to just beat OU this time.
It was GREAT to believe in those guys, wasn’t it?! It was a great run with the Mavericks. And yes, they broke my heart. But they did it by breaking their backs. They worked their tails off, and I’m the happiest broken-hearted fan alive.
And now, all that dies down, and all I’m left with is what looks like the same old Texas Rangers.
And I just can’t do it anymore.
You want to know how the Rangers can get me back? It’s all on the management. There’s nothing the players need to do. I am sure they are good players. I’m sure they work hard. But, as I said, it’s not the players fault. It’s the owners.
So, dear Rangers Management:
The following are my concluding thoughts on what you can do to save this franchise. And I do mean save the franchise, not just the season. I hope you realize how close you are to losing it all…not just this year…but close to losing an entire fan-base. This is the metroplex, remember. There’s a lot to do around here. There are movie theaters on every corner. There’s Six Flags. Heck, we fans might even go to “The Nasher.” Realize, this is about keeping your franchise, not your season.
So, here are my suggestions to you:
1) Call Mark Cuban. Learn from him. He’s a master. You don’t have to be that over-the-top. But you need to learn how to care, or at least to look like you care. Cuban can help with this. Also, listen very closely when he tells you that the fans mean everything. They do. Think about it. And if you can’t bring yourself to care, just find a way not to let us know that. We need to believe you care. We need to see it through not only what you say, but the money you put into the franchise. We need to see a couple of seasons of spectacular spending. That will probably just tick you off to hear me say that. But how you spend your money (or don’t spend it) is a symbol for how much you care.
2) Admit when you’ve screwed up. Admit that A-Rod was a fiasco. Admit that it put this club back five-to-ten years, and that we’re still recovering. Cuban would admit it. Cuban would apologize. And Cuban would take all that money that we’re still paying to the Yankees each year and add it to the Rangers payroll…a luxury tax on himself to show good faith. We need to see you do something spectacular like that.
3) Pitching, pitching, pitching!!!! I don’t care what you have to do. We need pitching. We need NUMBER ONE STARTERS. Two of them. (Yes, you heard me right: two) You keep getting us number two starters. We need TWO number one starters. That’s what the great teams always have.
4) Finally, realize the depth of this problem. This is not about this season. This is not about the Mavs winning. (OK, that’s part of it…) This like global warming. This is a decades-old problem. You need to recognize just how deep and serious this problem is.
Global warming started years and years ago. My Rangers global warming started about 1979. It was slow at first. It was still fun to love those lovable losers. The two playoff runs almost turned me around. But then, you owners screwed it up again. You traded off/gave away, the core a winning team. Now –and I think I can say this is a distinct possibility– Pudge may win his SECOND World Championship with a team that’s not the Rangers. You know how much that hurts?! That only adds insult to injury.
So, the glaciers are melting faster now. The hurricanes are of greater strength. You inherited a natural spring of goodwill that’s now dry. And, like global warming, it’s going to take decades to turn it around.
Admit it. Get busy fixing it.
But do it publicly and say it loudly when you do.
Because I’m not paying the close attention I used to these days, and I probably won’t hear you otherwise.
I can’t afford to love these Rangers anymore.
I can’t afford to care.