My favorite sports book of all time is Mike Shropshire's Seasons in Hell: With Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog and The Worst Baseball Team in History -- The 1973-1975 Texas Rangers. We excerpted the book in 1996, and Michael Hogue's original artwork accompanying the piece still hangs in my office -- that's it at right. (Michael gave me a sweet deal.) Anyway, long story short, a Friend of Unfair Park sends word that the former Fort Worth Star-Telegram-er is still writing about the Strangers -- this time for Slate, which is blessed this afternoon with a story that asks and (kinda, sorta?) answers the question, "How did A-Rod's Rangers become ground zero for baseball's steroids scandal?" A sampling of the man's greatness, required reading for all who love and loathe our team in equal amounts.
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While I wouldn't wish a stint with the Rangers on any man, my patience with A-Rod vanishes when he drags the weatherman into the equation. "You know, it was hot in Texas every day," Rodriguez said to [Peter] Gammons by way of explanation for his doping. "It was over 100 degrees. You know, you felt like -- without trying to over-investigate what you're taking -- can I have an edge, just to get out there and play every day?"
If A-Rod had bothered to ask around, he would have learned a local folk remedy to defeat the heat. It's called a Fort Worth Air Conditioner, and it consists of a large plastic cup filled with tequila on the rocks, colored by a couple of tablespoons of orange juice. Rangers players had relied on that concoction for three decades, and nobody ever heard a single one of them carp about life within the world's largest sauna. That was the old Arlington Stadium, with its shadeless metal stands configured like a gravel pit, where the scoreboard thermometer once hit 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the first inning of a night game.