By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Nothing, of course, will matter if the on-field product doesn't improve. For years wandering aimlessly to Arlington, Rangers' fans finally began speaking up and staying home last season, with attendance plummeting to a 20-year low.
When pitchers and catchers report in two weeks, fans again believe they have legitimate hope.
Andrus, who will become the franchise's best-fielding shortstop the moment he fields his first grounder, is generating a buzz. There is talk of adding All-Star pitcher Ben Sheets to the rotation. Young players like Ian Kinsler and Chris Davis and David Murphy should only improve.
And, after initially balking, forever face-of-the-franchise Young has even accepted his move to third base.
"We didn't sugar-coat what we were doing with Michael," Daniels explains. "If we asked him to do it and he said 'No' and we still made the move—that would've been dishonest. It's all worked out for the best."
The Rangers need better starting pitching. They need a right-handed bat in the middle of the lineup. But for inspiration, they need look no further than last season and the Tampa Bay Rays, who made the World Series only a year removed from baseball's worst record.
"I really think we have some building here," Kinsler says. "Something special."
As the fans file out of the Q&A, some shake hands with Daniels and Washington, some ask for autographs and others take pictures. Skinner, however, remains true to her mission. As Daniels moves toward the exit, she stops the GM and hands him a torn piece of notebook paper with her name, address and phone number.
She is not, however, hopeful.
"He apologized at first," Skinner says afterward. "But it wasn't like he was searching me out when it was over, that's for sure. I thought it would be addressed, but now I'm not sure. We'll see."
Contacted Tuesday morning, Rangers Vice President Chuck Morgan confirmed that the team has reached out to Skinner and is preparing a make-good package consisting of tickets and/or autographed items.
The real challenge, of course, is to finally reward their long-suffering fans not with olive branches, but winning baseball.
In the words of the Rangers' biggest, bravest fan, "We'll see."
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