The Texas Rangers have always been a low-rent, low-class organization in my mind.
The stunt the organization pulled this week simply confirmed it yet again.
The Rangers were scheduled to play a three-game series in Houston against the Astros. While Minute Maid Park, the Astros’ home field, was not flooded, most of Houston was, and every major route in the city was flooded and impassable. Also, the resources of the Houston Police Department and other first responders, already stretched beyond the breaking point, would have been stretched worse to provide security at Minute Maid for the games.
The simple solution to this problem would have been for the Rangers to host the series this week, then go to Houston in September when the Astros are scheduled to come to Arlington for the final time in 2017.
Easy. A lot easier than if the teams were not in the same division, since each team visits the other teams in the league not in their division only once per season.
The Rangers said hell no.
Their excuse: they did not want to “inconvenience” their fans who held tickets for the September series by switching on short notice.
Excuse me, Jon Daniels (Rangers general manager), but what do you think Hurricane Harvey did to the people of Houston? That’s not an inconvenience. That’s what’s called a catastrophe.
Just how catastrophic would it have been if a few thousand Rangers fans could not have attended the series this week? NOT AT ALL. On the inconvenience scale, it would rate at most two out of 10.
THREE games out of EIGHTY-ONE. How many people attend all 81 home games of an MLB team’s schedule? Not many. Likely only those who are retired or not working because they can afford not to work. And even some of those people would probably need a night or two away from the ballpark.
So what if fans don’t show up? The White Sox and Orioles played a game in front of NOBODY two years ago when there were riots in Baltimore following the Freddie Gray shooting. Many a European football match has been played in front of an empty stadium due to hooliganism. Fans are not necessary to play a game. If nobody wanted to show up in Arlington, let them watch it on television.
Instead, MLB forced the Astros to play their “home” games in St. Petersburg at Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays. If the floods weren’t injury enough, MLB insulted the Astros by forcing them into MLB’s worst facility (if not, it’s the second worst; only the Oakland Coliseum rates that badly) and playing in a city which does not deserve to even have an MLB team. The Rays have proven year after year after year they don’t care, always finishing at or near the bottom of MLB attendance.
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred proved himself a gutless coward. GUTLESS COWARD.
All Manfred had to do was exercise his “best interests of baseball” clause and forced the Rangers to switch dates with the Astros. And if the Rangers didn’t want to play the games in Arlington this week? Fine, they would have forfeited.
Instead of Manfred doing the right thing, he kicked Houston while it was way, way down. As bad as that is, you don’t want to see what I’m going to say about Manfred if he ever approve the designated hitter for the National League.
If this had been the National Football League and it had been the Texans and another AFC South team playing a regular season game, Roger Goodell would have told the team scheduled to play in Houston that it would have to host, and they would have to go to Houston later in the year. That’s that. No appeal.
Had the Saints been scheduled to host Carolina in week one of 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, I’m sure Paul Tagliabue, Goodell’s predecessor, would have asked the Panthers to play in Charlotte, then travel to either San Antonio or Baton Rouge later that season, and Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and then-coach Jon Fox would have had no problem with it whatsoever.
Instead, Rangers GM Daniels uses a cheap, petty excuse to screw the Astros, who are running away with the American League West. Texas is below .500 and only in the wild card race because the DH league is a whole bunch of mediocrity, except for the Astros and Indians at the top and the White Sox, Athletics and Tigers at the bottom. How else would the Twins go from 59-103 in 2016 to leading for the second wild card spot this August 31? If the Rangers played in the National League, nobody in Dallas/Fort Worth would give a damn.
Why am I not surprised by the Rangers’ pettiness? It’s in their orginazational DNA.
It began in 1968, when the Rangers were still the second incarnation Washington Senators.
The team was purchased by a Minneapolis businessman named Robert Short. Short was exiled from the Twin Cities in 1960 when he moved the Lakers to Los Angeles, then made a nice profit by selling them to Jack Kent Cooke in 1965. Cooke and later Jerry Buss turned the Lakers into one of professional sports’ iconic franchises.
Short probably wanted to buy the first incarnation of the Senators and move them to Minneapolis, but Calvin Griffith beat him to the Twin Cities in 1961 and renamed the club the Twins.
The second incarnation of the Senators were a laughingstock, just like the first team was after Walter Johnson retired in the late 1920s. The Senators were fortunate in that the Kansas City Athletics were just as terrible and kept the new Senators out of the cellar many years.
Somehow, Short convinced Ted Williams, probably the greatest hitter who ever lived, to manage the Senators. Williams led Washington to 86 wins in 1969, the franchise’s only winning season in the nation’s capital, and was AL Manager of the Year. Washignton hosted the 1969 All-Star Game at RFK Stadium.
Yet Short only cared about the almighty dollar, and he thought he could not make enough of them in Washington.
Near the end of the 1971, cheapskate Short conned owners into allowing him to move the Senators to the Dallas/Fort Worth area and play in a mionor league stadium halfway between the two cities.
Arlington was just another town on the Dallas/Fort Worth Turnpike (now Interstate 30) not too far from where the new DFW Airport was being built. It had Six Flags, but not much else.
Ten of the AL’s 12 owners at the time–the White Sox (John Allyn) and Orioles (Jerold Hoffberger) said no–let Short take baseball out of Washington. This greatly angered commissioner Bowie Kuhn, who despearately tried to get Short to sell. Yet Short showed he was just as egotistical as he was cheap, refusing an $8.5 million offer from grocery magnate Joseph Dazansky so he could put one over on the nation’s capital.
Williams quit after his first season in Arlington. He hated Dallas/Fort Worth and especially hated the shithole that was Arlingon Stadium, where more than 40 percent of the seats were aluminum bleachers in the outfield, where it was hot enough to fry eggs most days. Whitey Herzog was hired following Williams, but Short thought it was a big mistake from the start.
Herzog said it best when at his first press conference he declared “This is the most horseshit excuse for a Major League team I ever saw”.
Unfortunately, Whitey, the Rangers are still a horsehit organization.
Short forced Herzog to pitch 18-year old David Clyde less than a month after his high school graduation. Clyde eventually became an alcoholic, developed arm trouble, and eventually flamed out of MLB by 1981. The only reason he isn’t considered the worst #1 overall pick in MLB history is because at least he played in MLB, unlike Steve Chilcutt (1966) and Brien Taylor (1991).
Herzog was fired with 24 games to go in 1973 and replaced by Billy Martin, the same Billy Martin who would be hired and fired five times by George Steinbrenner. Martin led the Rangers to 84 wins in 1974, but the better news was Short sold the Rangers to Brad Corbett, a local pipe salesman.
Corbett’s ownership was just as horseshit as Short’s, and the Rangers were pretty terrible for 15 years, save for a season of contention here and there (1977 most comes to mind).
Then came George W. Bush, future governor of Texas and 43rd President of the United States. His predecssor, Eddie Chiles, left the son of the then-POTUS the gift of Nolan Ryan, who was offered a boatload of cash to come north on Interstate 45 from Houston.
Bush turned the Rangers into a semi-respectable outfit. Ryan filled decrepit Arlington Stadium every time he pitched, including once when my brother, father and I watched from the left-center field bleachers for Ryan to face the Brewers in what turned out to be his final season, 1993.
Yet Bush 43 made one gigantic mistake.
The Rangers got a new stadium under Bush’s ownership. Arlington Stadium was demolished in 1994, about 15 years after it should have been.
The bad news? NO ROOF.
Let’s see: we’ll build a new baseball stadium in Dallas/Fort Worth without a roof after fans have suffered for 22 years in the extreme heat in Arlington Stadium, a shithole where many fans had to burn the butts–literally–on metal benches.
I visited the new stadium in Arlington, currently called Globe Life Park, once, in 1996. It was better than Arlington Stadium, but much crappier than Kauffman Stadium, and certainly nowhere as good as PNC Park, which I visited in 2005.
The Rangers are correcting Bush’s gigantic mistake by building a new stadium with a roof, set to open no later than 2021. But the Rangers should have got it right the first time.
If that were the Rangers’ biggest problem, I wouldn’t have such a beef with them.
But it isn’t.
In 1999, when Ryan was inducted into the Hall of Fame, he went in wearing a Rangers cap on his plaque. It turns out the Rangers offered him financial inducements to wear a Rangers cap, even though he pitched four career no-hitters with the Angels and played nine seasons with the Astros. I don’t care if he collected his 5,000th strikeout and pitched two no-hitters with the Rangers.
Last I checked, it’s called bribery when financial gain is offered in return for a favor. If it happened in a political arena, the briber and the bribee would both be in federal prison. Instead, Ryan is a hero in Dallas/Fort Worth, even though he is from south Texas and played the longest with the Astros.
In 2002, the Hall of Fame said enough was enough and told Gary Carter his plaque would have him in an Expos cap, even though he wanted to wear a Mets cap on his plaque. Now the Hall of Fame determines the team cap on the plaque.
Wade Boggs tried that shit when he wanted a Devil Rays(??!!) cap instead of the Red Sox. The Hall of Fame said no.
Too bad the decision is not retroactive. Reggie Jackson should be wearing an Athletics cap, not a Yankees cap.
Catfish Hunter had it right when he insisted on a blank cap on his plaque, not wanting to offend the Athletics or Yankees. Greg Maddux (Cubs and Braves) did the same.
The Rangers continued their reign of error by signing former crack whore Josh Hamilton, the former #1 overall pick who was banned from baseball for a time for extreme drug usage.
It hired Ron Washington, a former admitted coke junkie, as its manager.
And now this.
There are some teams I just will never like.
The Reds are one. Pete Rose can get fucked, and Marge Schott should rot in deepest hell.
The Cubs? Obnoxious fans. Just because your team won its first World Series in 108 years does not mean you rule the earth.
The Marlins? Jeffrey Loria is a fuckwad. Jose Fernandez killed two other people because of his abject stupidity. He is not a hero. Besides, I can’t stand Miami to begin with. I despise the Heat. Dolphins and Panthers just as much.
The Texas Rangers fall into that club.
I hope the Lord has something nice in store for this dirtbag crew, who gave a giant middle finger to their in-state neighbors just because they couldn’t handle a very minor inconvenience.