*Outfielder Josh Hamilton—who last year had 32 homers and 130 RBI—starring in his own God Gone Wild! photo shoot in January, missing games with three different injuries and not hitting his 10th homer until September 1.

*Michael Young currently missing at least two weeks with a pulled hamstring.

*A pitching rotation that's endured the departures of Vicente Padilla, Matt Harrison and Kris Benson, because of the arrivals of Scott Feldman, Tommy Hunter and Derek Holland.

Only one thing more praiseworthy
than Neftali Feliz’s 101 mph fastball
—his 77 mph curveball.
Only one thing more praiseworthy than Neftali Feliz’s 101 mph fastball —his 77 mph curveball.

*Financial woes that have forced owner Tom Hicks to put the club up for sale and prevented the Rangers from acquiring high-priced talent or even signing first-round draft pick Matt Purke.

The Rangers' past is sucky, and their future is murky. There are frightening skeletons in the closet and financial potholes down the road. The present, however, smells delicious.

Washington—who thought he'd outlast the Mavs' Avery Johnson, the Stars' Dave Tippett and the Cowboys' Bill Parcells?—is a candidate for Manager of the Year. General manager Jon Daniels is up for Executive of the Year. Mike Maddux deserves credit as pitching coach, and Ryan is a primo prez and Feldman—an afterthought banished to middle relief in the spring—has 15 wins and building momentum for Cy Young.

It's Feliz, however, who has Arlington buzzing and baseball noticing. He's teasing the ability to be a workhorse starter like Ryan or perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime closer like the New York Yankees' Mariano Rivera.

"He's quite an asset," Ryan says. "Down the road, we've just to figure out how best to use him—starter, reliever or whatever. For now he's going pretty good where he is."

After his performance against the Blue Jays, a demoralized Toronto sportswriter surveyed the damage and bemoaned an almost trade that would've sent Feliz and other Rangers prospects to Canada for pitcher Roy Halladay.

"So that's the kid?!" the writer said. "You're telling me the Blue Jays almost stole the next big thing?! Fuck!"

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