Texas Rangers: Hot Stove or Cold Shoulder?

Give the Rangers credit. They are trying.

With the Cowboys imploding and the Mavs and Stars wallowing in mediocrity, our local baseball team has a prime opportunity to earn some much-needed love this winter. Texas hasn't done diddly-poo as far as free agency, bringing in only reliever Derek Turnbow, pitching coach Mike Maddux and announcer Dave Barnett.

But with the relocation of Michael Young, the premature exaltation of Elvis Andrus, the potential signing of Omar Vizquel and the promotions - my God, the promotions! - I think they deserve at least an afternoon of our undivided attention.

Join me, won't you?

First off, the acquisition of Vizquel is uncharacteristically savvy. Not from a right-here-right-now tangible effect, but more in shaping the long-term future of Andrus. In fact, the Rangers couldn't pick a better mentor.

Vizquel and Andrus are both from Venezuela, their hometowns 30 miles apart. And nobody's played more Major League games at shorstop (or turned more double plays, or had a better career fielding average) than the 42-year-old former Indian, Mariner and Giant. If Andrus is as open-minded as he is slick-fielding, he'll learn a thing or three from the 11-time Gold Glover.

Like I've said before, I'll make the trek to Arlington to see Andrus. Probably on a Friday. Why? FIREWORKS!

Actually, check that, not enough to get me out there. But if you're jazzed by them, team prez Nolan Ryan has upped the post-game festivity from five games last year to 13 this season.

Also on the fan-friendly agenda in 2009:

*Tickets regulary $33 will go for $10 during the season-opening weekend series with the Kansas City Royals.

*There will be seven concerts, two more than last season.

*Tuesdays will be Kids' Days, with an adult ticket getting a free one for the 13-under punks in your life.

*A new Total Family Ticket gets you four tickets, four jumbo dogs, four 24-ounce drinks, one parking pass and unlimited play in the kids' sports park - all for as little as $60. Seriously, not bad.

We all know the Rangers are targeting 2010 as the year they legitimately compete for a playoff berth. But it's nice to know they're still trying to win fans in 2009.

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