Texas Rangers

Typical Rangers: 10 Years Late and a Dollar Short

Your Texas Rangers are the type of guy who would go out and buy a classic '57 Chevy - in '67. They invite you over to check out their new 8-track tape player. And - 10 years after being left at the altar by an All-Star pitcher in his prime - they keep throwing millions at Randy Johnson.

In 1998 the Rangers courted The Big Unit with a four-year, $50 million free-agent offer, only to watch him sign with the Arizona Diamondbacks a week later. (Editorial aside: At the Fort Worth Star-Telegram I was once reprimanded for referring to Johnson as "The Big Unit" because, ya know, its phallic symbolism might offend our readers. Swear.) We all know how that one turned out: Arizona won a World Series and the Rangers, well, remained the Rangers.

Equal parts perserverent and pathetic, Texas is at it again.

The Rangers are pursuing the 45-year-old Hall-of-Fame lefty as baseball's winter meetings end today. Typical Rangers. The Yankees sign a pitcher (CC Sabathia) in his prime; Texas eyes one a decade removed from his peak.

Johnson, who went 11-10 with a 3.91 ERA with the Diamondbacks last season and has won five Cy Youngs in 21 seasons, could certainly help baseball's worst pitching staff. But for once, just once, I'd just like to see the Rangers not discard talent on the way up (John Danks) and not acquire talent on the way down (Sammy Sosa).

But hey, what do you expect, this is the same team that propped up Nolan Ryan for years. (Come to think of it, they still are.) The same team that signed Sosa so he could hit his 600th homer in a Texas uniform. And the same team that covets Johnson as little more than a publicity stunt.

I can hear the marketing campaign now:

I know we suck again, but come watch Randy Johnson become only the second pitcher in baseball history to record 5,000 strikeouts!

Cute, huh? - Richie Whitt