Owners’ naiveté has been the Rangers’ downfall
08/09/2014 5:35 PM
11/13/2014 10:46 AM
When the local baseball season began way back on March 31, you will remember the widespread joking references to “Nolan’s Revenge” and “Kinsler’s Karma” being among several hoodoo-voodoo evils that might await the Rangers in 2014.
But now that we have more than four months of “sleazeball” (another Ian dandy) evidence, and as the wreckage of this franchise has reached historical depths, these truths are self-evident:
There is no Nolan’s Revenge.
There is no Kinsler’s Karma.
There are no hoodoo-voodoo evils involved.
Instead, what we have here is simply a case of stupid. Baseball stupid.
That’s you, Bob and Ray.
That’s you, too, Jon Daniels.
By the way, Daniels could be a good baseball man. But his ego took over, he got real stupid with a backstabbing power play of Nolan Ryan, and although Daniels achieved the front-office muscle he wanted, and he ran Ryan out of town, you know what they say about being careful what you backstab for.
You might get exactly what you want, including a sleazeball reputation and a baseball mess. Then what?
What we had last week in Arlington was a funny (as in ha-ha) reminder of just how naive Bob and Ray are when it comes to baseball business. I refer to the departure of one of Jon’s most trusted inner-circle guys, A.J. Preller, who was hired as the new general manager of the San Diego Padres.
Preller is expected to leave town with a couple of other inner-circle guys. This is business as usual in baseball.
But let’s also review the facts of what we once had here.
From 2008, when Nolan was hired here by then-owner Tom Hicks, until late November of 2012, when Nolan was informed by Bob and Ray he was no longer in charge of anything, the Rangers had enjoyed immense success being the most dysfunctional franchise in all of sports.
It was a constant case of the Nolan Guys vs. the Daniels Guys. Some real good hate was happening. But under those circumstances, some real good baseball was happening.
For five seasons and two World Series teams, Jon never made a major league move without it being approved by Ryan. Those two clashed at times, but actually, they got along much better than the Nolan Guys and the Daniels Guys.
Daniels, however, worked tirelessly behind the scenes to gain total control. In the end, he didn’t promote himself and he didn’t demote Ryan. Bob and Ray bit on the backstab, and eventually the two owners did the promoting and the demoting.
With Daniels in total control, the Rangers missed the playoffs but had a 91-win season in 2013. But that win total was so misleading even Daniels knew a major overhaul was necessary for this season. And you know the rest of this story.
Injuries happened, but this debacle goes far beyond injuries.
Why, many have asked, did Bob and Ray decide in 2012 to “fix” what was working well? Why did they take down Nolan Ryan?
The answer on Ray Davis is he wanted Ryan’s job as team president. Now he has it. Davis was a retired billionaire with boredom to deal with. Now he’s a baseball guy.
The answer on Bob Simpson is not as easy. What the heck was Simpson thinking and why did he go along with Davis and Daniels in rubbing out Ryan?
Simpson loved Nolan. In fact, he even invited him to a game in Arlington this season and Nolan accepted. But it’d be a stretch to say they remain friends.
For an answer, however, on what happened in 2012, let’s fast-forward to the departure of A.J. Preller.
When Daniels was given all the baseball power (remember, he was also even offered and refused the job of team president in charge of business), I repeatedly grilled Simpson on why jack with a good thing.
Bob’s answer was, well, amazing, but I thought sincere. Stupid, but sincere. I’ll say up front, I personally like Simpson a lot. But good gawd, man.
Oh, yeah. That answer.
Simpson said he thought Jon and his guys were the smartest and best baseball group in the land. Therefore, as an owner, he wanted Daniels and his guys to remain a “team” in Arlington for many years in the future.
Continuing, Simpson said by giving Daniels full power in baseball, the owners thought the group would stay together forever.
Bob, I answered, (and I even later told Daniels what my answer was), if Thad Levine is offered the GM job in, say, Colorado, or any other major league city, he will be leaving, and he will be taking some of the Daniels Guys with him. And that’s fact, because it’s human nature.
Levine, like Preller, is at the top of the chain of command under Daniels. And Thad will be gone if ever offered his own team as the GM.
Bob and Ray both made a billionaire’s fortune by drilling holes in the ground. Well, that’s what they have in Arlington at the moment. A hole in the ground. Except it’s a dry hole.
The departure of A.J. Preller should change nothing for the Rangers. But a naive attempt to keep Preller changed everything, with a drastic impact felt this season, and with next season also full of ugly question marks.
Leave a message for Randy Galloway at 817-390-7697.
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