By David Mullen
This is a good time for 75 percent of Dallas’ four big sports teams. The Cowboys season is ready to begin with typical hype and anticipation. This year, there is reason for true optimism. Jerry Jones, “owner of the Dallas Cowboys” as he likes to remind everyone, took enough time from his $250 million yacht Bravo Eugenia to hire new head coach Mike McCarthy. Jason Garrett is finally gone, at least three years too late. Change is good.
The Dallas Stars acquired proven veterans to join a core of up-and-coming skaters. Frustrating at times, the Stars may finally be gelling led by interim head coach Rick Bowness. Proven, experienced hockey players surrounded by developing players is an icy road worth navigating. Talent is good.
The NBA playoffs have afforded the Dallas Mavericks to showcase to the rest of the world the incredible 21-year-old Luka Dončić and his cast of young, skilled teammates. Remember, center/forward Kristpas Portziņģis just turned 25. Not only does the duo lead the league in diacritical marks in their surnames, they lead the league in scoring potential. Youth is good.
The Rangers have neither talent nor youth making an impact at the major league level. The only action they can influence is change. Texas is so bad that it is time for change.
Manager Chris Woodward and GM Jon Daniels need to be released from their duties at the Texas Rangers. Woodward has tried to bring a positive influence to a negative team but has proven he has a “deer-in-headlights” look as a field general. As for Daniels, he continues to sail rudderless making one bad decision after another. The rest of the league is leaving the Rangers in their wake.
Cues on the current state of the Rangers can be found by what happened in the past. Daniels winning a front office battle with Nolan Ryan will turn out to be watershed moment in the Rangers’ history. Ryan is a baseball Hall of Famer and a proven winner. Just his presence on the field had the young players taking notice. Daniels may have won a local spelling bee once, but his command of the players is nonexistent.
The Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros put their fans through a few years of developing players, but they had a plan, let their fans know about it and ultimately won World Championships. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A’s balance strength from their farm system, plug in a short-term veteran to fill a need and win. And the Rays and A’s do it with limited resources. The most exciting team in 2020 is the Chicago White Sox, a young team grown from within and crushing the ball out of the park.
Despite growing up in Queens, Daniels is seriously lacking in street smarts. Mediocrity is the norm and it is OK with him. He takes fans for granted. He figured he could roll out any team at new Globe Life Field this season and at least 2.5 million fans would flock to see the new dome. Then the pandemic hit.
And if Daniels is so concerned with the lost revenue and potential television revenue, he could learn a thing or two. While television ratings of baseball are approaching record highs, the Rangers and Fox Southwest are once again complacent and appear satisfied with arguably the worst TV broadcast team in baseball in Dave Raymond and C.J Nitkowski. They are resigned to showing an uninspired production featuring an uninspiring team. Is part-time TV analyst Tom Grieve still doing Cookie Talk? I wouldn’t know. It is much more enjoyable to listen to the Rangers games on the radio with Eric Nadel (pictured).
By the way, the teams with the largest TV audience gains among males 18-34-year-olds this season are the aforementioned A’s (+389 percent), Dodgers (+357 percent) and Rays (+326 percent).
Daniels, in his as 15th season as general manager, came into the position at 28 and promptly traded Alfonso Soriano to the Washington Nationals for Brad Wilkerson, Terrmel Sledge and Armando Galarraga. Soriano hit 46 homers and stole 41 bases the next season. He traded pitcher Chris Young and first baseman Adrián González to the San Diego Padres for pitchers Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka. González hit 310 homers and won four Gold Gloves once he left Texas.
He should have been fired for signing Shin-Soo Choo to seven-year, $130 million contract. He sticks with Elvis Andres, who is well past his prime. Rougned Odor is a joke. He hits under .200 because he swings a telephone pole for a bat. Daniels hasn’t produced a leadoff hitter or frontline catcher in years. He picks up veterans like Todd Fraser, Corey Kluber and Mike Minor because he hit the jackpot years ago with Mike Napoli and a very troubled Josh Hamilton. Now he publicly stated that he is not going to break up this team. Why, or better phrased, why not?
As the other local teams thrive because of a blend of talent and youth, the Rangers wallow in the MLB mire without a plan. They don’t have talent. They won’t play their young players unless absolutely strapped. There is never a sense of urgency. And the future is bleak with Daniels at the helm. The Texas Rangers are an embarrassment and there is only one way to fix it.