Six years ago I wrote a cover story about Jamey Newberg, a Dallas attorney better known for being the namesake and main contributor to The Newberg Report, which covers the Texas Rangers "from top to bottom." Then and now, the Web site and the books Newberg publishes each season are well-regarded by players, their parents, media sorts and even club management. And the site has always been perceived as independent, free of the Rangers' interference and editing.
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But late Monday the Rangers released its closely held statement of financial affairs as part of its ongoing Chapter 11 proceedings. And in it, among revelations that Tom Hicks pocketed more than $180,000 in annual salary and Nolan Ryan $1.5 million as team president, are six payments to Newberg from the team between February and April of this year totaling $27,125. Barry Shlachter of the Star-Telegram noted this late yesterday and spent almost as much space on the payments to Newberg as he did those to Hicks and Ryan. He also cited, repeatedly, my '04 article -- which is no doubt why several Friends of Unfair Park forwarded it along yesterday and this morning. Wrote Shlachter:
A lengthy 2004 Dallas Observer article described Newberg's blog as a must-read for fans and even baseball beat writers and team officials who, it said, were initially suspicious of Newberg. There is no disclaimer on his blog site that Newberg has been paid for services to the Rangers. Near the end of the Observer piece, the weekly said: "Perhaps one day Newberg will finally get what he wants -- a shot at working for a big-league club."
If nothing else, the tone of the piece suggests Shlachter doesn't believe Newberg's an independent source of information. And so I asked Newberg (who, full disclosure, I've known since we were kids) late Tuesday if perhaps he'd care to explain the payments. He said he'd be happy to. His comment, in full, is on the other side. But first, this spoiler: "The Rangers do not censor any of what I write and never have." That's his bold, not mine.
A large portion of that Feb-April amount was for the Season Ticket Holder version of the book I write each year, which the organization buys several thousand copies of each spring to mail out to every one of their season ticket accounts. (In fact, the version is abridged to less than half its original size, because what the organization budgets to pay me per book is far less than what it costs me to have the books printed. We abridge it so that I don't take a loss on printing those several thousand books.) My family is also reimbursed for a trip to spring training each year. Both the books and the spring training trip would have fallen in that Feb-Apr period. And both were obviously once-a-year payments.
I do get compensated some by the club for the writing services I provide (I do a weekly column on the team website, and two monthly articles in the ballpark gameday program, and used to write and record Jumbotron video packages though we have put those on hold the first half of this season). But the Rangers do not censor any of what I write and never have. (In fact, the thing I've caught the most grief about from Rangers fans in a long time is the string of negative things I've written this season about one particular Rangers player.)
My blog is independent. Say what you will about my tendency to be overly positive and optimistic about the Texas Rangers -- anyone who has known me any length of time knows that long before anyone with the team had any idea who I was, I was a glass-3/4-full guy as far as this team goes. That's always been true. I would never allow anyone to tell me what to write or what my opinion on a certain topic should be. I'm a fan, not a journalist, and that's always been the case.