Rangers can erase sour memory of A-Rod, Teixeira deals
01:00 AM CDT on Friday, October 15, 2010
COLUMN By EVAN GRANT / The Dallas Morning News
ARLINGTON – It has to be this way.
If the Rangers are to finally truly awaken from being "sleeping giants," as Chuck Greenberg once called the franchise, and rise to be a perennial power, the club must once and for all vanquish the ghosts of past failures.
Tonight, when the first American League Championship Series to hit Arlington begins, the ghosts will be just across the field donning pinstripes.
You are thinking the New York Yankees.
More like these particular New York Yankees: Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.
Sure, the Yankees franchise has caused trouble for the Rangers before. Until this year, the Yankees were the only team the Rangers ever faced in the postseason. And they've embarrassed the Rangers with nine playoff victories in a row.
That streak, still active as of this morning, began in 1996. As Yankees torment goes, that's nothing. Ask the Red Sox about that little dry spell from 1918 through 2003. Or the Twins, who have also lost nine straight playoff games against the Yankees and 12 of 13. Or the Braves or Dodgers, regular World Series victims.
If you are a major league franchise, being tormented by the Yankees comes with the territory. It doesn't make you special.
What does make this opportunity special is the chance the Rangers have to expunge for their fans all those ghosts from a decade of misdeeds and mismanagement. The fact Rodriguez and Teixeira, former Rangers, are wearing Yankees uniforms are reminders of just how bad things were.
Their time in Texas and their departures were examples of wretched excess of an improperly functioning chain of command and the long-term effect that such mistakes can have on a franchise.
Until Aug. 5, when ownership changed hands from the very destitute Hicks Sports Group to the very liquid Rangers Baseball Express, the Rangers were still feeling the consequences for those mistakes.
Rodriguez and Teixeira joined the organization during the first nine months of 2001, a year that set the Rangers back a decade.
The Rodriguez mega-deal , which ultimately might be the single-biggest financial factor that contributed to the decline and fall of Tom Hicks as an owner, got done because Hicks insisted on negotiating directly with agent Scott Boras. He ended up overpaying by about $100 million and pushing GM Doug Melvin to the point of irrelevancy.
Eight months later, when Melvin was insisting on toeing the MLB-recommended slotting system and refusing to pay top draft pick Teixeira a $10 million bonus, Hicks pushed the GM out of the way again. It led to Melvin's firing and perhaps the worst four-year period in the franchise's rather modest history.
From those decisions, though, the sleeping giant threatens to waken once and for all.
The decision to send Rodriguez to the Yankees in 2004 in a Rangers-subsidized deal forced the organization to become more rational in its approach to building a champion. That was the first step toward building a winner from within.
The process accelerated in 2007 when, even more cash-strapped, the Rangers maximized Teixeira's value in a trade with Atlanta that capped off perhaps the most productive summer of acquisition in Rangers history.
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