Once their careers are over, Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus could work as a comedy team. The good-natured, playful banter and genuine love between the pair was on display Saturday morning during the annual Rangers Fan Fest at Globe Life Park.
Beltre and Andrus held a joint question and answer session with fans hosted by Eric Nadel in the Hall of Fame room and it didn’t take long for the barbs to start flying. Each used questions from fans to take friendly shots at the other. Some of the questions set up the punchlines on a tee.
Beltre was asked whether mentoring Andrus, who is almost 10 years younger, had made him a better parent at home. Occasionally, Beltre said, he inadvertently uses the name Elvis when he’s trying to scold his son A.J.
Andrus got him back with an equally humorous interjection when Beltre was asked who mentored him coming up with the Los Angeles Dodgers. After Beltre listed a few names, Andrus interjected, “Babe Ruth.”
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The packed room erupted in laughter.
Before the comedy stylings of Beltre and Andrus, however, there were in depth discussions on the season ahead with manager Jeff Banister and general manager Jon Daniels. Each took turns taking questions, some easier than others.
“I grew up a fan, as we all did, and I’m still a fan,” said Daniels, who took questions with moderator Matt Hicks, Rangers radio broadcaster. “I think that’s what makes the game great. I don’t listen to a lot of sports radio but I appreciate it because of the passion. It’s what drives these businesses.”
The fan Q&As were tougher early on in the job, Daniels said, when the same two questions kept coming: When are you going to get some starting pitching and how old are you?
“Early on it was more difficult just because we weren’t that good and we didn’t have any skins on the wall and we hadn’t really accomplished much,” said Daniels, who was named GM in October 2005 at 28, then the youngest GM in the majors. He turns 40 in August.
“We figured we should first try to address the pitching one,” he joked. “The age [question] became a novelty.”
Among the questions he was asked Saturday was the personnel move he regrets most. He’s answered it before. Trading slugger Adrian Gonzalez, pitcher Chris Young and an outfielder to the Padres for Adam Eaton, Akinori Otsuka and a minor league catcher two months after taking the job.
“I probably wasn’t ready for the job when I got it,” he told the crowd. “I would have loved more time to develop more as a person, as a man, before I had that kind of responsibility. There were a lot of things I didn’t know and hadn’t experienced.”
But, he added, “You’re not going to turn that down, right?”
The crowd laughed with approval.
“I want to make sure we’re always up front and accountable and available,” he said.
Banister has been an enthusiastic participant in fan interaction since joining the club in October 2014. “It’s the lifeblood of what we do. I love the passion of our fans,” he said. “I love the questions because there is a connection. Without them we don’t get to do what we do.”
Banister was peppered with questions concerning his roster, his bullpen, how he balances the use of analytics with gut instincts during a lengthy back and forth with answer-hungry fans.
“I try to answer them as honestly as I possibly can and be straight forward,” he said afterward. “We live in an all-access world and we try to give our fans an opportunity to be connected.”