Maybe it’s just me, but shouldn’t Your Texas Rangers at least be faking like they give a damn about the upcoming season? Using last year’s “You Could Use Some Baseball” slogan again this year seems like a total give-up for a franchise nearing complete and utter irrelevance. Or maybe it was just that “We’re Gonna Suck. Check Back Next Year” was already taken.
Anyway, other than the fact that the team is planning on bidding for the 2015 All-Star Game and is being run by the most hated owner on both sides of the pond, this is what I took away from last weekend’s Fan Fest even at Rangers Ballpark:
Manager Ron Washington still has his optimism: “I guarantee we’re gonna pitch and catch better. Guarantee.”
Manager Ron Washington has so much optimism that his perception is skewed: “Milton [Bradley] is totally misunderstood. He’s a great teammate and a good family man. He’s calmed down a lot.” Really?
Manager Ron Washington, in fact, is the most optimistic man on the planet, or at least New Orleans. He recently re-built his flood-flattened house in the Big Easy and plans to move back in this weekend. “Only thing that will drive me out,” he says, “will be another Katrina. And we know that was a once-in-a-lifetime kinda deal.”
The Rangers enter spring training with four closers. Which, of course, means they have zero closers. C.J. Wilson, Eddie Guardado, Joaquin Benoit and Kazuo Fukumori will initially close by committee, which, like, never works. Here’s pulling for Wilson, who is funny, cocky and is taking martial arts five days a week in Oak Cliff, for what it’s worth.
Center fielder Josh Hamilton is a born-again-and-again-and-again Christian who, if he hits the ball as hard as he beats the Bible, will win the AL MVP. “My priorities used to be God, family and baseball,” Hamilton said. “Now it’s God, God and God.” He also does Pilates three times a week in Arlington, for what it’s worth.
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SHOW ME HOW
Somewhere, though, Hamilton might have missed the part about humility and the meek inheriting the Earth. His prediction for his 2008: a batting average between .290-.310, between 30-40 homers, 90-100 RBI and 25 stolen bases. Do that, and he immediately becomes the best center fielder in Rangers’ history. By a mile. And his Rangers career is off to an inauspicious start. At Fan Fest Hamilton wore a bandage on the tip of his finger, the result of carelessly allowing a thrown ball to carom off his hand instead of into his glove. He can’t play catch for another week.
All-Star shortstop Michael Young now lives permanently in Dallas, but he had a busy off-season traveling. “I went to Cabo,” he said sheepishly. “Insert joke, right?” Young also told a Q&A crowd that the best way to break in a glove is with shaving cream (huh?), that his best all-time teammate was Alex Rodriguez (HUH?) and that he has no problem spotting the random drug tester. How? “He always wears all black,” Young joked. “Then he asks for my ID; says, ‘Come with me’; and then you gotta go give it up.” He asks for ID? Seriously?
Assistant general manager Thad Levine had ominous news for fans hoping owner Tom Hicks will someday start spending with baseball’s big boys. “We were once around fifth as far as payroll,” Levine said. “We don’t aspire to be back up there again. But when we need to spend, Mr. Hicks will support us.”
Baseball. Could we really use some? --Richie Whitt