Bad Boys of Summer
It’s September and the Texas Rangers are once again circling the drain, so it must be time for my annual column on why this team never makes the playoffs. It’s not hard to figure out – owner Tom Hicks doesn’t spend, manager Buck Showalter is a control freak, and general manager Jon Daniels is just out of diapers.
But anyone can rattle off those timeworn reasons. This year, I want to take a different tack. If the Rangers are going to be a .500 team that annually finishes several games out of contention in third place, what would get me interested? The problem I’m having is that the team just seems too boring – nice guys who win some and lose some, flirt a little with success each year, then phone it in after the all-star break. Not bad, not good, not anything.
While watching the coverage of the Dallas Cowboys training camp, I came to a conclusion on how the Rangers can get a fan like me back. It has nothing to do with winning. It has to do with a guy like Terrell Owens.
The Cowboys wide receiver has piqued the interest of the sports media and football fans because he is acting up. He doesn’t want to work out, so he fakes an injury. T.O. feels he’s too good to practice, and anyone can tell that coach Bill Parcells and owner Jerry Jones are close to wigging out. I pay attention to all this, because the perfect storm may come this season when the three are fighting with one another.
So here’s the idea I came up with: If the Rangers aren’t going to win anything in the foreseeable future, why not bring in a bunch of bad-ass ballplayers who can at least entertain us? The highlight of last season was when pitcher Kenny Rogers assaulted the Fox 4 camera guy. The team decided it didn’t want such a bad behavior case on their “family-friendly” team, so Rogers signed with Detroit and is now leading them into the playoffs.
So let’s get some of the guys back who have that T.O attitude – you know, me first and the rest of you clowns at the back of the line. Let’s get players who are so weird that no one knows how their minds work.
I was a Cleveland Indians fan by birth, and in the ’60s and ’70s I loved the weirdness of my perennial last-place team. Infielder Chico Salmon couldn’t sleep at night due to ghosts in his hotel room, which he kept at bay by spreading white powder around. Outfielder Jose Cardenal said he couldn’t run anymore because his toenails had started growing vertically. And pitchers Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson swapped their wives and families during one season.
To get these kinds of guys for the Rangers, first we’d have to fire Buck and bring in White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. He was forced to take anger management classes this year after he called a Chicago reporter a fag. Think of how much fun it would be if he referred to Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Randy Galloway as a lesbian (or however he’d say it). Daily.
Then bring back Jose Canseco and Raphael Palmeiro. The steroid users could focus on different areas of expertise. Canseco could be “medical director,” advising players on all facets of nutrition. Palmeiro would teach them ethics, mainly how to lie when being accused of anything. Finally they could sign bighead Barry Bonds to complete the steroid triumvirate.
Trade for Kenny Rogers and have “Cameraman Nights.” Give fans cardboard cut-outs of tv cameras, which they would hold up for each of his pitches. I figure they would sell out every time he’s on the mound.
And make current pitcher Vicente Padilla into player/pitching coach. Some people got mad when Padilla started hitting opposing batters in almost every game he played. Padilla could pass his tips on to the young pitchers, and the Rangers could lead the league in at least one category.
Sound cynical? Well, the Rangers will do that to you. I am tired of mediocrity and tired of the excuses. If you’re gonna stink, at least entertain me.
Using my scenario, the team would cap each season by presenting the Roger Moret Award. In 1978, Moret, a Rangers pitcher, was found in the locker room in a catatonic state; he stared at his shower shoe for five hours. The award would go to the biggest, baddest asshole on the team. Not that the winner would have to be in a catatonic state to qualify – the fans are already there.