Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Tuesday, June 5

It is a pretty slow sports day…So let’s talk Rangers!

Revo sets his sights back on Hicks

The numbers that Hicks has to take responsibility for are staggeringly bad. Since that division title in 1999, the Rangers haven't finished higher than third place in a four-team division, finishing last four times in seven years. In those seven years plus this season, their combined overall record is 555-638, 83 games under .500. In the last seven years, they've finished an average 21-plus games out of first place.
Behind those gawd-awful numbers are a series of terrible decisions by the owner that have helped sink his franchise into oblivion.

Want a list? Let me give you the short version, in no particular order:

Trying to mesh his hockey and baseball front offices (a disaster).

Lack of continuity in philosophy and front office personnel, which began with the firing of general manager Doug Melvin.

Giving The Ballpark a NASCAR-like look with advertising plastered on anything that doesn't move and some things that do.

Building the infamous Gold Club without first checking to see what it might do to the wind currents.

Hiring John Hart to replace Doug Melvin.

Failing to re-sign Pudge Rodriguez.

Signing Alex Rodriguez and Chan Ho Park.

Letting Nolan Ryan, the most credible baseball name in Texas, slip away to the Astros.

Allowing Hart and Buck Showalter to run off John Blake, the most savvy PR director in baseball, who told them the truth instead of what they wanted to hear. He now does that job for the Boston Red Sox.

Hicks is also responsible for hiring the youngest (and lowest-paid) GM in the game in Jon Daniels and allowing him, in turn, to hire a completely inexperienced (and lowest-paid) manager in Ron Washington.

Not unexpectedly but despite the incompetence of his team, ticket prices have shot up at The Ballpark in the last decade. Ten years ago you could have the best seat in the house for $25. That same seat is now $100 and other tickets have risen from 50-100 percent or more across the board. Let's not even talk about what you pay now for parking and concessions.

In the meantime, the Rangers have drafted poorly, leading to a lack of player development. There's not a single position player currently in the system that fans can expect to make this team next spring.

Yes, Hicks should sell, because he's lost the confidence of the people. But he won't because he now sees the new Cowboys' stadium as another financial windfall, with development coming around both stadiums that Hicks could never get off the ground on his own.

That's a pity, because there's a buyer still interested down in Round Rock, if the Rangers ever go on the market. But Nolan Ryan has to be wondering if his dream of owning a major league team in Texas will ever come to fruition.

Evan looks at the last few fateful years

•2002: This was perhaps the worst year in Rangers history in terms of long-term effects. In addition to spending more than $100 million on failed free agents (Chan Ho Park, Juan Gonzalez, Jay Powell and Todd Van Poppel), the Rangers gave up picks in rounds 2-5. In addition, new scouting guru Grady Fuson focused primarily on college players; the Rangers didn't take a high school player until the 17th round.

It turned out to be a particularly good draft for high school pitchers. These were some of the high school pitchers selected between the time the Rangers took Meyer in the first and their next pick: Kazmir, Cole Hamels, Micah Owings, Matt Cain, Jon Lester and Jonathan Broxton. Position players James Loney and Jeff Francoeur were also taken. Each of the last five names has been mentioned as a potential target if the Rangers opt to trade Teixeira.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs, using the fourth-round pick they received as compensation for the Van Poppel signing, selected Rich Hill from the University of Michigan. Bush and Granderson were also plucked from the college ranks while the Rangers were dormant.

To complicate matters, the Rangers hastily dealt hitter Travis Hafner to Cleveland for starter Ryan Drese (to fill a hole at the back of the rotation) and catcher Einar Diaz (to fill a hole behind the plate)

•2003: Hart and new manager Buck Showalter were not fans of Davis' nibbling style and placed him on waivers after one start. Davis proceeded to pitch 200 innings in each of the next three seasons.

On draft day, the Rangers selected John Danks in the first round. But thinking they needed somebody more ready to contribute and eat innings for the 2007 season, they traded him last winter to the Chicago White Sox for Brandon McCarthy.

•2004: Hart did not want to deal with agent Scott Boras after several bad experiences with free-agent signings. So the Rangers selected signable Thomas Diamond with the 12th pick. The Los Angeles Angels, two picks later, took Boras' Weaver.

•2005: With Fuson out of the picture after a power struggle, Hart got more involved in the draft. His first-round choice was Mayberry, a Stanford outfielder who fit Hart's affinity for big, strong-bodied hitters. But Mayberry's swing needed an overhaul. Boston selected center fielder Ellsbury. Oakland selected Buck, who is filling in quite nicely in the A's injury-riddled outfield.

Meanwhile, with the Tigers in, we are reminded that Dave Dombrowski was a candidate here to replace Doug Melvin. it seems he has done pretty well in Detroit with things

Some key moves by Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski since assuming control in 2002:

February 2002: Claimed OF Craig Monroe off waivers from the Rangers

June 2002: Drafted CF Curtis Granderson in the third round and P Joel Zumaya in the 11th round

July 2002: Acquired RHP Jeremy Bonderman, 1B Carlos Pena and RHP Franklyn German from Oakland for RHP Jeff Weaver

January 2003: Acquired LHP Nate Robertson, RHP Gary Knotts and LHP Rob Henkel from Florida for LHP Mark Redman and RHP Jerrod Fuell

December 2003: Signed OF Marcus Thames to a minor league contract after he was released by the Rangers

January 2004: Acquired SS Carlos Guillen from Seattle for SS Ramon Santiago and SS Juan Gonzalez

February 2004: Signed Florida free agent C Ivan Rodriguez to a four-year deal with a
club option for 2008

June 2004: Drafted RHP Justin Verlander in the first round

February 2005: Signed Chicago White Sox free agent OF Magglio Ordonez to a five-year
deal with options for 2010 and 2011

June 2005: Acquired 2B Placido Polanco from Philadelphia for RHP Ugueth Urbina and IF Ramon Martinez

December 2005: Signed Rangers free agent LHP Kenny Rogers and Florida free agent RHP Todd Jones to two-year deals

June 2006: Drafted LHP Andrew Miller in the first round

Anaheim wins Game 4 in an exciting hockey night in Ottawa

They have been thuggish and undisciplined and borderline self-destructive. And those are some of their better qualities.

But beneath the Anaheim Ducks' wart-festooned exterior beats the heart of a champion.

Playing without their best player, Chris Pronger (suspended) and top forward Chris Kunitz, (injured), the Ducks displayed admirable mettle by riding out a miserable first period and beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals Monday night.

The victory gives the Ducks a 3-1 series lead and the opportunity to win their first-ever Stanley Cup at home on Wednesday. Of the 28 teams that have taken a 3-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup final since 1939, only one has failed to win a championship and that was 65 years ago.

If the mark of a champion is being able to defy the logical, to win when it appears losing makes more sense, to turn chaos into order, then the Ducks are that kind of team.

"Again, it just proves the point that our players have found a way to reach back and give more when it's asked of them," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said.

Meanwhile, Mike Modano emerges from his cave to explain his fiancée has a large mouth

Veteran Stars center Mike Modano said Monday that he has talked with organization officials recently about criticisms that his fiancée, entertainer Willa Ford, directed at the team's management and coaching staff in an Internet interview last month.

"I just wanted to clear some things up with them, and I think they had some concerns, too," Modano said. "They understand how I believe, and I believe we're moving in the right direction."

Among what Ford told ESPN.com: There was friction among the coaches; the team needed to acquire better wingers to play with Modano; and stripping him of the captaincy before last season was classless.

The interview took place a few weeks after the Stars were eliminated by Vancouver in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

During the Stars' run, Ford was one of multiple celebrities asked to blog on NHL.com.

Modano said Ford based opinions expressed in the interview on some of his unfiltered frustration.

"It's tough, because my personality is that I'll hold a lot inside and then just go vent," said Modano, who will turn 37 on Thursday. "I think it's like anyone. You get it out of your system and then just go back to work."

Modano said he discussed the interview with general manager Doug Armstrong, coach Dave Tippett, associate coach Rick Wilson, a few teammates and ex-teammate Brett Hull, now a special assistant to team president Jim Lites.

Armstrong wouldn't comment on his conversation with Modano. Tippett said his door is open to any player at any time.

As the NBA Finals approaches on Thursday night, True Hoop examines the Cavaliers – Spurs games of the regular season

• Bruce Bowen guards LeBron James almost all the time, except for a couple of Manu Ginobili cameos. Against a lot of players, Bowen is omnipresent and annoying. Against James, Bowen is a barely noticeable gnat. James can use his mighty frame to put Bowen into any and every pick, and then he's often wide open. When isolated against James, Bowen can't do much to bother James' fallaway jump shot, which is sometimes a high percentage shot.

• With the help of a pick, and sometimes without, James can get to the rim against the Spurs with shocking ease. Now, those of you who watched San Antonio play against Phoenix can tell you that "at the rim" is a nearly impossible place to score against the Spurs. The story is you're better off pulling up in the mid-range (which is the Achilles heel of LeBron James). I am here to tell you, sports fans, that those rules do not apply to LeBron James, who finishes at the rim against San Antonio with regularity -- at least in these two games. One reason is because often Tim Duncan is coming over to help far from the rim, and is not entrenched in the lane. But that only accounts for some possessions. On others? James is that rarest of players who just can score over and around Duncan. The genius of Duncan's defense is that he does not jump. He stays on the ground and saves his jumps for after the shot has been released. But James comes to the hoop so hard, he is so long, he is so strong, he is so fast, and he has a point of release so high, that he can score over or around a stationary Duncan -- forcing the big man into some non-routine habits.

• You can see James posterizing Duncan. That play was not entirely typical of the James/Duncan relationship. But note how easily James left Bowen behind when he had a pick and a mind to get to the rim. That happened a lot.

• The kryptonite of the Spurs is getting Tim Duncan in foul trouble. LeBron James could get Tim Duncan in foul trouble. I'm sure this series will be hyped in some fashion as LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan. Of course, they play totally different positions, and that would seem to be all hype. But, in fact, LeBron James vs. Tim Duncan may prove to be the key matchup for the various reasons outlined here. I should also mention that James does not look remotely scared of Duncan. You know how a lot players go away from Merlin? Not LeBron James.

• James posts Bowen a fair amount. This is not the easiest way for James to
score, but it's a very effective way to get Tim Duncan coming over to help -- and when he gets there, James likes to spin to the baseline and lead everyone on a race to the hoop. It's clear, as that race unfolds, who is younger. More than once, in the half-court, James had layups with Duncan entirely behind him.

• The Spurs were not "going easy" on James in the footage that I saw. They tried a zone in which three players cheated way over to James. They briefly experimented with a high-energy trapping defense (James one-dribbled away from his man, and pulled up for a made jumper). They sent help early and often. And whenever James beat his man baseline -- where the passing angles are tougher -- as many as four Spurs met the young star.

DEI finds a Junior who can win races

With Little E about to become Little Ex, who better than True X to give the DEI team a lift? Martin Truex Jr., the two-time Busch Series champ who is in his second full year of Nextel Cup racing, posted his first points victory Monday, winning in Dover, Del. His much more popular teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., was 22nd. Truex is 13th in the standings, only eight points out of the Chase -- and two spots ahead of Earnhardt, who hasn't won a race since last May.

Sheffield can say anything

Foolish is foolish. Hurtful is hurtful. Racist is racist.

Should the offender's batting average make a difference? Or his race? Or the fact it's on page 227 of GQ? No.

So where is the outrage over Gary Sheffield?

Detroit Tigers designated hitter Sheffield had some news to release in the current edition of GQ. He has decided on the reason for the flood of Latin baseball players into the major leagues. It's because they're more ... manageable.

Not like African-Americans. They're too independent, apparently. If it's a close call on the roster, black players are sent home and the jobs given to men from Venezuela or the Dominican Republic because of "being able to tell (Latin players) what to do — being able to control them."

So sayeth Sheffield, noted sociologist.

"I know a lot of players that are home now can outplay a lot of these guys."
Take that, Albert Pujols.

Now batting third for the Tigers ... Don Imus.

Wait. That's not quite right. Sheffield spewed out no demeaning names. And maybe young women from Rutgers make much more sympathetic victims than pitchers from Cuba.
But if there is a line for all, Sheffield, an African-American, just crossed it. An entire race of athletes was reduced to a stereotype. The enormous growth of Latin players in the majors was given an asterisk. Note: These guys are in the lineup because they can be more easily handled by the manager.

Which begs the question to Sheffield of where in his theory of controllable Latinos is there room for Manny Ramirez?

Don Cherry and the very gay Scott Thompson

Oh Face Remix


Andy D. said...

Revo is right on...

This has been a slow free fall since Johnny Oates left.

Would Ron Washington quit after just one year with this team? Hmm

Rick said...

I am completely embarassed to be a Ranger fan..but what can I do. I love this team. Hicks sure is making that hard to do these days, especially when you at Revo's column and see all the reasons to tune them out listed in chronological order. I've often wondered what would've happened with this team if Dombrowski were hired instead of Hart. The guy just takes crappy, crapy franchises (Florida and Det) and takes them to the World Series within 5 years. Doesn't Hicks understand that he would make so much freaking money if he would just focus on making this team a contender and hire the right folks? Remember the playoff fever in '96? Imagine if this team would go to the Series...the way stripped-shirt Addison man jumps on the sportz bandwagon, Hicks could charge $1000 a seat and fill the place up.

The most disheartening this about the article is the statement that Nolan would be interested in the franchise if it were available. Imagine how much easier it would be to love this team if a chunk of your cash you threw dog for tickets, hot dogs and beers went to the great Nolan Ryan instead of that pompous jerkoff. But what can we do...it's not like that douchebag will ever sell.

Rick said...

several typos....screw me

andrew said...

If we were back in the good old days of the Roman Empire, we might be able to anticipate the Rangers to decimate themselves, selecting and killing one out of every ten members as punishment.

Sigh... we've gotten so soft.

Bitterwhiteguy said...

If LeBron plays against the Spurs like he has in the past(or even like he did against the Pistons) this series is going 7 games.

TheDude said...

Sigh... How many people have to say it: one-third of a season does not a career of a manager or result of a trade make.

Ah hell, who are we kidding. In the Hard Copy "starting! with! Breaking! News!" society, it's much easier to talk about the failure of Ron Washington and the McCarthy/Danks trade ("Just sayin..." has gotten really old really fast) than give it a chance to succeed on its own.

Robert said...

Exactly what should we be giving a chance to succeed on its own? The point of the three selected columns posted today was to point out arcs that span nearly a decade each. The big-picture perspective employed is intended to show the team's long-term ineptitude, and the lack of accountability that shows a long-term disregard for the fans. Your patience isn't going to be rewarded. The Ranger isn't going to be good any time soon. Thank the Donald Sterling/David Glass school of ownership, and its top student, Tom Hicks. Changes won't be made until the team isn't profitable anymore.
I can't believe I'm saying this after some of the years I've suffered through with the Pokes and Mavericks, but being a good fan is only going to bring you headaches as long as the cynicism continues in the owner's box. If you want to see things change, spend your brain space and your dollars elsewhere.