Yesterday’s hella-exciting NFC Championship game should have been one-to-two Minnesota touchdowns less exciting. Why? Because the New Orleans Saints have apparently forgotten one huge football fundamental that even I had drilled into my head as early as JUNIOR high football: when the ball is loose, FALL ON THE $*&#$& THING! Every time the Vikings flubbed the ball last night, not ONCE did a New Orleans defender adhere to this simple, proven, pee-wee football fundamental! Instead, their egos tried to scoop up the ball and run with it…GAHHHHH!
Even one of their 5-ton defensive lineman tried to play Walter Payton last night…I was screaming at the top of my Cowboys-fan-get-revenge-on-the-run-up-the-score-Vikes lungs…ARGH! Oh well, the Ain’ts have finally made it to the Supe…way to go guys!
In other news…
* Looks like my Texas Rangers are nearly out of the ownership woods – yesterday, Pittsburgh sports attorney Chuck Greenburg and Rangers legend Nolan Ryan cleared the first hurdle in buying the Rangers from Tom “Too-Many-Irons-in-the-Sports-Franchise-Fire” Hicks, i.e. they’ve reached an agreement with the Hicks Sports Group, the same group that is destroying the Dallas Stars and Liverpool FC. The deal still needs approval from 75% of MLB owners, the NHL, and the army of banks that Hicks owes money to. Hopefully, all of the above are just formalities and the handoff can happen before opening day.
* Due to my writing inspiration woes of late, I haven’t said much about the Hot Stove here in Arlington. In a nutshell:
1. The Rangers acquired Rich Harden from the Cubs, but it cost us Kevin Millwood(who went to the Orioles in a salary dump move). If Harden works out, it will definitely be an upgrade to our numero-uno spot in the rotation. Millwood was, at best, a very good number three starter.
2. We got Vlad from Los Anaheim of California. Hopefully, that bat he’s used to bludgeon the Rangers with over the years still has some bludgeon left in it. We’re gonna need it, seeing as how Seattle‘s hot stove has been cookin’ with gas this off season. The M’s look mighty mighty on paper. Hopefully, like Communism, they’ll just look good on paper.
3. Our other limited budget, risky business moves include reliever Chris Ray (from the Orioles in the Millwood deal), presumed number-three starter Colby Lewis (from Japan’s Hiroshima Carp), former Ranger and fan favorite reliever Darren Oliver (from Los Anaheim), and utility fielder Khalil Greene (apparently from the loony bin).
On the hockey front –
* My new-found love for hockey continues, unfortunately, the Tom Hicks owned, 25th-in-the-NHL-in-salary Dallas Stars suck this year, and will likely continue to suck as long as Hicks owns the team.
* The Texas Brahmas continue their up-and-down season and despite a barely .500 record, are clinging to third place in the CHL-Southern Division.
* I was rummaging around in my pile of barely played/never played PS2 games this weekend and discovered I had NHL 2001, still in the shrink-wrap. Like the real-life game of hockey, I’m kicking myself for not discovering the game years ago! Mrs. J and I were up all night on Saturday playing the game. Fortunately, my PS2 hockey procrastination payed off – since this was NHL 2001 , the PS2 Dallas Stars roster was that of their 1998-2000 glory years with Brett Hull, Derian Hatcher, Ed Belfour, and in-their-prime Mike Modano & Jere Lehtinen. Much fun was had.
Now, I know what you must be thinking: “There’s a new Fall League starting up in North Texas?”…and rightfully so, seeing as how the only October baseball we’ve seen in these parts over the last ten years has been courtesy of my PS2, MLB The Show, and the fact that my PS2 Texas Rangers roster sports an all-star lineup of all-stars.
No, for the fifth time in 38 years, a new owner is riding in on a white horse, telling all of Rangerdom what we want to hear, and the message boards are brimming with giddy, optimistic posts. Except here at BAPL, where grizzled, p!ssy cynicism rules the day. And the following quote from our prospective owner, Chuck Greenberg, didn’t exactly stem the tide of said cynicism:
“In this organization, there will be no walls between us and the fans. One of our most important skills is to be good listeners, and we’re going to do a lot of listening during the season.” said he.
…which sounds dear and fluffy to the untrained ear. However, my 30+ years as a Rangers fan and 20+ years toiling in corporate America has taught me that this brand of “My door is always open…” talk is definitely worthy of a few red flags. I’ve never, ever met an executive who genuinely means it…issuing that brand of statement is always, ALWAYS, nothing more than patronizing perception management, period. I’m remaining cautiously cynical until proven otherwise.
Anyway, my cynicism isn’t going to stop me from joining my naively optimistic brethren from publishing a Christmas wish list to Saint Chuck of Pittsburgh…I’m seeing these popping up all over the online Rangersphere…so here goes:
Dear Saint Chuck,
I was a very good boy last season, spending a large percentage of my disposable income on your soon-to-be MLB franchise, and I even purchased full season tickets for 2010, so please stuff my 2010 and near future Rangers stockings with the following:
1. A consistent, contending Major League Baseball team.
Somehow, year-in, year-out, the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Angels, and Phillies, to name a few, manage to achieve this surely self-evident goal. Money and market-size are no excuses here(see the Twins), seeing as how the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex manages to support the other three major sports franchises quite well(even a professional Soccer team for cryin out loud). Why? Because they put a consistent contender on the field/ice/court year after year and have proven they are committed and capable of contending. Notice I said nothing of championships…the Mavs got to The Show, fell short, but still sell out most every game, every season. Why? Consistent contender, year after year…I see no reason why the Rangers can’t and won’t do the same.
2. Don’t raze the farm system trying to reach goal number one.
Until recently, this problem has plagued the Rangers since I can remember…trading off an army of future all-stars to bring in one or two has-beens, then surrounding them with AA talent. Don’t mess up what Nolan and JD have built…think moderation for once.
3. Don’t empty the bank signing one marquee player (see A-Rod circa 2001).
An A-Rod deal is fine, it shows you are committed to bringing in talent…but you better have enough dough to make TEN A-Rod deals so you aren’t surrounding your 250 million dollar man with the Bad News Bears.
4. Hire a Major League Baseball manager.
Ron Washington might be a good manager…someday. That day is not today. Open your wallet and bring in a pro for god’s sake.
5. Schedule night games at 7:30PM, not 7:00PM.
Since it’s not feasible to add a retractable roof to the ballpark or even build a new stadium, push the games to 7:30 like they used to be. Believe it or not, heat-wise, that mere 30 minutes makes a HUGE freakin difference in July, August, and September for fans and players alike.
6. Find a way to get DART/TRE (mass transit) service to the ballpark.
It’s worked freakin wonders for the Stars and Mavs.
7. Go to Fenway Park, observe the awesome concession offerings.
...then duplicate! With a few exceptions, the food at Rangers Ballpark is effing crap. If Fenway can compel me into making multiple food runs to their concession stands, so can you. I’d eat at Fenway whether a baseball game was taking place or not.
8. Cease and desist with the exorbitant and cost prohibitive parking rates.
Then pass that tidbit on to the Mavs and Stars. One’s parking shouldn’t cost as much as one’s ticket to the event.
9. Enough with the “Family Friendly/Family Event” marketing.
This says you aren’t fielding much of a baseball team because you are marketing everything BUT baseball. And for God’s sake, don’t encourage kids to “use their outside voices” at the ballpark! (I’m not kidding, folks, “Use your outside voice!” was an actual 2009 Rangers advertising slogan).
10. Yes, definitely, step into the 21st Century and get us a quality video screen in center field.
We’ll even call it the Chucktron in your honor. I’m glad you mentioned the need in one of your press conferences, however, the Chucktron should not be tops on the priority list…1-5 should be tops on the priority list.
I hope you are sincere and capable, St. Chuck, because we here in Rangerdom are sick and tired of our baseball team being nothing more than a good ol’ boy accessory, a political launching pad, and a hopeless laughing stock. You build us a winner and I guaranty you we’ll stuff YOUR stockings with our hard earned cash…count on it.