“I been spellbound – falling in trances
I been spellbound – falling in trances
You give me shivers – chills and fever
I been spellbound – somewhere down the crazy river”
— Robbie Robertson
Far more faithfully than either guns or religion, it seems to me that Americans cling to their sports bitterness. It’s what first inspired Bob and Dan to dub me the “Bitter P1.” And it’s what inspires me to update a blog of almost two years ago today.
The update is inspired by is this story in the DMN: “Texas Rangers’ Attendance is Down”
Two days later, Evan Grant offered analysis of the situation, and sets the stage for the debate:
“It is June. The Texas Rangers’ overall record is probably slightly better than you thought it would be before the season. It is undoubtedly a lot better than you thought it would be on say April 15. Nolan Ryan is back with the team. Josh Hamilton is a Sports Illustrated cover boy AND the most exciting player in baseball.
And the Rangers are on a pace for less than two million fans.
Why is that?”
Grant offers five reason:
5. It’s hot
4. Bad schedule (no great teams)
3. Poor ticket sales
2. History (eight years without a playoff appearance)
1. Lack of wins early in April/May
And all these may be true. And, someday, I’d like to hear a serious discussion about just how much the summer heat has hurt the Rangers over the years. Because my hunch is that the answer is “a lot.” My hunch is that, with a retractable roof, some of the teams from our Ranger-past would have gotten much farther than they have.
But I must point out to Grant, and everyone else reading, that his top three reasons are really connected together as one huge “cause and effect.”
I would submit to you that poor season tickets sales, a lack of wins, and a “history” of eight losing seasons, are all symptoms of a long-term, debilitating, disease that afflicts this team. Like Type 2 Diabetes, it doesn’t kill you on day one. It doesn’t even change your life that much. But year after year, the symptoms become more pronounced, certain conditions become irreversible, and eventually you lose the patient.
The Song Remains the Same
A few years back, I wrote a blog called “Why I Can’t Afford to Love the Rangers.” In fact, almost two years exactly. Nothing has fundamentally changed since then.
Well, that’s not entirely true. The names have changed. The new, exciting players are now named “Bradley” and “Hamilton.” But it’s the same old story: Great hitting. No pitching.
Year after year after year…after year…after year…it’s the SAME story.
Jeez, this is not rocket science. Attendance is down, season ticket sales are down, because the Rangers are genuinely losing fans. They are losing some of them forever. Heck, as I wrote two years ago, they’ve pretty much lost me.
When I wrote two years ago, Kevin Sherrington was the DMN staff writer, bemoaning the fact that Ranger fans were not falling in love with Michael Young.
The gist of his story then was: What does Young have to do for you to love him like you loved Pudge, Rusty, and Raffy?
The answer for me was: there nothing Young can do because it’s not about him. It’s about one, very simple problem, that the Rangers had then….that the Rangers had a decade before that…and that the Rangers have now:
PITCHING, PITCHING, PITCHING!!!!
Sorry for shouting.
It’s just that we’ve been here before. The incredible bats. The amazing offense. Come-from-behind heroics. Young, exciting offensive and defensive players that, cruelly, offer hope to the weary fan.
We were here two years ago. We were here four years ago. We were here a DECADE ago.
It’s the same damn story. Year after year after year.
So, nothing has changed and I still can’t afford to love the Rangers. They’ve broken my heart for 30 years. They know what they have to do to make it better and they still haven’t done it.
So, I’m no longer going to show up at the park. I broke my string of attending “Opening Day” games back in 2007. I have not been to a single game since I wrote that blog in July of 2006.
I know that many other fans will slam this decision as impatient or fair-weather.
But look…this SAME ISSUE has been THE issue for a DECADE (probably longer…). It’s THE issue.
So, it seems to me that my reaction is not impatient. In fact, I would argue that to continue to go to support this team –knowing that the same issue is still THE issue– makes me a masochist.
Insanity, as Einstein once said, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The Rangers organization appears to be insane, and I will no longer help them if they will not help themselves. Haven’t we learned, from Hamilton’s story this year, that an addict must sometimes hit rock bottom before they get help? People who go to these games are simply enabling Tom Hicks.
The second claim –that it’s being “fairweather” to stay away from games– is also bogus.
Look, ultimately the only power a fan has is the power of the pocketbook. Sure, we can boo lustily at a game or two. But so what? The only thing that really gets an organization’s attention is the almighty dollar.
So, Rangers Fans: Join me.
Stay home. Stay home until management finally gets the depth of this crisis. Stay home until management realize that this is why season ticket sales are off. Stay home because hitting management in the pocketbook is the only real leverage you have.
In spite of how very cool the Josh Hamilton story is, the whole organization is based on a kind of insanity that has not changed in decades.
And until it does, I still can’t afford to love the Rangers.