Every year, I have a running bet with my brother where I will pay him one dollar for every game the Rangers are over .500.
I have yet to pay a dime.
Living in Arlington, Texas, it is sometimes difficult to be a die-hard Red Sox fan. The majority of folks around here aren’t serious baseball fans (how can you be with the Cowboys moving in next door?), but those who do follow the Rangers are usually knowledgeable, optimistic supporters of the team. They have never-ending hope as all fans should and I commend them for it. Supporting your home team is a sports tradition going back to Athens during the time of classical Greece. However, this is where my understanding halts. They don’t seem to like the idea of me rooting for a team that resides 1500 miles away.
The Rangers season is over. They will not make the playoffs. They may not even finish over .500. They are 62-63 and are 9.5 game out of the wildcard race. They’ve lost nine of the last eleven while giving up 84 runs in that 11 game span. Four times they were shutout. They may very well end up 2nd in the AL West for the first time in nine years, but that is only because the A’s are having their worst season in a decade and because Seattle hasn’t been this bad since 1983.
I blame it all on Tom Hicks (as I do every year), however, I am starting to blame the Rangers fans too. Here we are in mid August standing around the water cooler saying “man, Hamilton is a great surprise and Kinsler is having a wonderful season. You gotta love Michael Young, he deserves to play on a good team like this. How about Milton Bradley and David Murphy? Who woulda thought they would be so good? This young guy Chris Davis is looking solid and, dang, how many quality catchers can one team have?”
Then there’s the kicker: “If only we had some pitching.”
It’s like a mantra we speak over the team. It’s a tourism sign: “Welcome to Arlington, if only we had some pitching.” We say that phrase every year. We decide how well the team is doing by how late into the season we first hear the remark. This year we made it to August. Bravo Rangers.
I for one am sick and tired of saying it. The Rangers have had some of the most prolific names in hitting over the last ten years. Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Michael Young, Mark Teixeira, Pudge Rodriguez, Will Clark, and Alfonso Soriano have all spent their time in Arlington. As far as pitching is concerned, we’ve had Kenny Rogers, Kevin Millwood, and Chan Ho Park. Last year, Hicks paid Millwood one million dollars per win. Chan Ho Park gave us 22 wins in his time here while taking 48 million dollars. If that were the norm, Josh Beckett would have made $43 million last year. Arguably the best pitcher the Rangers have had since the playoff years of the late ’90s was Kenny Rogers who won 63 games in five seasons with the team. The great minds in the front office booted Kenny to Detroit in 2006 after a 14-8 season for tossing a cameraman to the ground. Apparently this didn’t fit with the Rangers image? This is the same team image that promptly added corked-bat-swinging-steroid-using Sammy Sosa the following year and still carries on it’s roster a man who threw a chair into the stands breaking a woman’s nose.
WHY CAN’T THE RANGERS GET SOME PITCHING?!!
Why do you Rangers fans continue to give your money to Tom Hicks???
The biggest problem is a lack of spotting talent when it’s right under their noses. Edinson Volquez, Armando Galarraga, Chris Young, and John Danks have a combined record of 39-18 this season. All are former Rangers. What is the problem?
Maybe it’s that Hicks only wants to field a team good enough to give you fans hope. Only good enough to make you believe long enough to buy that ticket; to get that Hamilton #32 jersey for $90.
Many of you are saying to yourselves: “it’s the ballpark. It’s not a pitchers ballpark.” Why then have the Rangers starting pitchers had a better record in home games for 9 of the last 10 seasons? Why do good pitchers have success here when their teams come to town?
The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is the fourth largest metropolitan area in America. We aren’t going to lose our team if fans stop going to the games. I’m happy to report that there has been a 16% drop in attendance this season at the Ballpark, but this is not enough. My Red Sox didn’t win a thing until we got the right management team and maybe it will take a severe loss in revenue to get Hicks out of town.
Listen, I want the Rangers to succeed. I am a Red Sox fan because I love the history and tradition of that franchise. I love the players and Fenway Park. I love the rivalry with the yankees (lowercase of course). More importantly, I love the decision making of the front office. I love the focus on small ball, the patient game with contact hitting, walks and high OBP guys. I love that we get Sean Casey (batting .350) and not Mark Teixeira. I love that we have such a perfect mix of veterans and youngsters. I’m the kind of baseball fan that gets a bigger thrill out of watching the opposing pitcher’s pitch count get higher and higher than I do for a home run. I love smart baseball. That’s what my team gives me. The Rangers can spend just as much money as the Sox. Right now, the Sox are around $115 million. The Rangers are around $70M. The yankees however are at $210M and are 10 games out of first place. Money isn’t everything for you Red Sox haters.
It’s time to spend the money for some pitching. Pay Johan Santana 25 million dollars a year to come here. Maybe then, the interest from other pitchers will raise.
I like Josh Hamilton. I like Michael Young and Ian Kinsler. These guys deserve to be able to play on a contending team. It isn’t the players that I am cheering against. They are the ones I’m cheering for.
Root for these guys. Cheer for them. But remember, they will probably be yankees or Mets or Angels eventually. Rooting for your team when they are losing is not just honorable, it’s supremely endearing. It gives us all the right to cheer more loudly, boast more proudly, and sing our own praises once we finally win for enduring the test of time, having never given up even when the odds were at their most bleak. Remember guys, I’m a Sox fan. I remember losing 19-8 in game 3 against the yanks in ‘04. We were done. It was over. And you know what? We did what had never been done and won the damned World Series. Loyalty is precious in sports. How much more do we love Cal Ripken for staying all those lean years with the Orioles? Or how much respect does A-Rod lose for skipping from team to team for the highest bidder? Americans honor loyalty, as we should. But my only question is: Where does Tom Hicks’ loyalty lie?
How many years in a row are we going to lose games 9-8?
Tom Hicks will be here only as long as you let him.
Benjamin Edwards is lead writer for Studyofsports.com