Sunday, April 20, 2008

To Quote Former President Richard M. Nixon.....

“Let me say this about that…”

Once again my personal thanks to Time Warner/Road Runner internet. As happens every Spring, there are thunderstorms, my internet service is interrupted, I spend days offline waiting for a repairman to replace the cover on the connection box that that always falls off when it rains. And so it goes…until the next storm.

Since I tend to be whiny let’s start with the “good stuff”.

Getting in touch with my inner artist: Not writing my blog left me with plenty of time to ride the TRE into downtown Fort Worth on Saturday for the Main Street Art Festival. Mark your calendars for next year – it’s an afternoon well spent viewing art, eating excellent food and listening to good music.

Good for German: German Duran got his first big league hit Saturday night – and if you were listening to Josh and Tom then you know that he’s giving that baseball to the father of a friend of his who passed away – what a great gesture – how can you not root for this kid to succeed?

Minor matters: Scanning the “Top Ten” lists for the minor leagues (as of 4/20) finds a few Ranger prospects prospering (couldn’t come up with a third “p” word for additional annoying alliteration). In the Midwest League – Clinton’s Ian Gac has the second highest BA in the league at .426 – while teammate Crisitan Santana (playing multiple positions) is tied for 11th with a .340 BA (missing the 10th spot by .001) – pitching wise righty Evan Reed is #10 on the ERA list with 1.50 ERA (and a very solid spot start in AA Frisco to boot).

The Bakersfield Blaze fans must be ecstatic with this year’s squad after enduring last year’s miserable showing – IF Jose Vallejo is 7th in the batting race with a .333 BA – while RHP John Bannister (recently promoted to Frisco) just missed the top 10 coming in at 11th with a 2.40 ERA followed by LHP Zach Phillips at #12 with a 2.57 ERA.

Up in Frisco, IF Adam Fox has the second best BA in the Texas League at .380 and 1B Chris Davis in spite of missing a few games with a sore wrist is 10th at .352 Lefthander Mark Ballard is 8th in ERA at 2.00 and I’m mentioning the improving RHP Michael Schlact at 14 th with 2.50 ERA (and nice note on the daily BA summary saying that he’s appears to be on the right track)

No Redhawks in the Top 10 offensive or pitching categories – although Nelson Cruz – you read that right Nelson Cruz - is 13th with a .348 BA and a .516 OBP – 16 BBs only 6 Ks. Another favorite – RHP Doug Mathis is 1st in IP with 26 –(and a decent 3.12 ERA).

Clinton Lumberkings: I want to point out the link in the photo gallery to Lacey’s pictures of the Clinton Lumberkings – thanks for sending them. And has anyone noticed the new Lumberking’s logo – pictured on the left – Louie the Lumberking. Did they use Jason Botts as a model for those arms?

So where have you been Marla? It’s true – two weeks into the season and I haven’t been to a minor league game yet – I am suitably ashamed and going to fix that situation this week: going to at least 2 Frisco games – with Mrs. Schmenge accompanying me for Saturday’s game – and a quick trip to OKC for a Sunday afternoon game. Pictures and game reports next week….weather permitting.

My Glory Park soapbox: When I mentioned the financing problems for Greed…er…Glory Park in a previous entry it elicited a couple of responses. Here are my objections to the development and most of the changes going on around the Ballpark.

As noted, Rangers ownership had the options to develop the land around the Ballpark from the time the bond issues passed in the early 1990’s – the previous ownership group (W, Tom Schieffer, Rusty Rose et. al) chose not to do anything. When Mr. Hicks bought the team in 1998 he didn’t exactly do much of anything – except sell off part of the general parking area - making it more difficult for non-season ticket holders to find nearby parking. Again as noted Mr. Hicks waited until the football stadium was approved to begin his development plans.

Let me point out a few things:

1st When the football team moves its games to Arlington its going to be 9 regular season games per year – and maybe a couple of playoff games – that is a possibility maybe 10 calendar days during the 365 day year that the football crowds will come out to Arlington. So Mr. Hicks was more willing to invest in 10 days a year – rather than the 81 days his team is in Arlington? What does that say about what Mr. Hicks thinks of his team’s fans and what they are willing to spend? Not much in my opinion.

2nd – Addressing specifically the closing of the 2 restaurants on Copeland Rd. I think it’s interesting that the owners of Joe’s Crab Shack, Red, Hot & Blue and Pappadeaux’s – who are affected the same way by the street closures – didn’t pack up and leave. That speaks more to the kind of businesses that Mr. Hicks and his development partners are recruiting – maybe they don’t have the same kind of financial stability - how much “slow business” will these other business establishments be able to withstand during the football and baseball off days/off seasons if established brands like the Mexican Inn and Shady Oaks can’t handle it?

3rd - What Mr. Hicks and Glory Park planners are trying to emulate – (the area around the AAC) won’t work in Arlington. They are trying to create an urban setting in a suburban environment - -- I’ll say it right now: it will fail.

The fact is that Arlington isn’t really a suburb at all – it’s a small city that is 25 miles from downtown Dallas/Fort Worth which is at least a 45 to 55 minute drive from North Dallas (on a good day with no traffic hassles). There is no public transportation available.

Think about it – if you live off Arapaho Rd. are you going to say – "hey let’s drive 45 minutes to Arlington for dinner at a chain restaurant and a movie" on an off day – when that same chain has a place 10 minutes from your house right off the Tollway at Stonebriar Mall and a movie theatre too? Especially with gas prices heading towards $4.00 per gallon? Right now – weeknight games coming in from Dallas or Ft Worth it is still a push to get there by 7:00 between leaving work, picking up family and friends, parking almost to I-30 and walking to the stadium – do you really think those folks (many of whom don’t even stay beyond the 8th inning on weeknights) are going to hang around after the game when that means getting home long after midnight when they have to get up the next morning for work?

4th – The development plans I’ve seen, including the video board is just trashy and ugly in my opinion. The first tenant I’ve read about (in the Star Telegram) is a bowling alley with a movie screen – classy.

And hanging a video board on outside of the Ballpark, is utterly useless. As mentioned before – folks coming in for Ranger games have a long drive – they barely get there in time for the game most nights – they aren’t going to hang around before or after the game just watch a video board. And again – this is not an urban setting in the middle of downtown – no-one is going to pay $12.00 for parking just hang around in 90 degree weather on a Tuesday night just watch a video board. Mr. Hicks would be better off putting that video board inside the stadium for the hard working non-corporate folks who buy tickets in the home run porch.

Yes, I’ve heard there are plans for building townhouses and condo’s around the Ballpark – and how is the real estate market doing these days? Let me also point out the same exact thing was was promised (townhouses and condos) for the area around the Frisco Roughriders Ballpark in 2003 and so far – not one unit has been built.

Speaking of trashy – the Six Shooter Girls are an embarrassment. You can’t understand a word of the interviews they do on the jumbotron, the “game rules” they read are so stiff and forced it makes me cringe everytime it’s shown – and my gosh – if you’re going to spend that much money on them and put them on the dugout to dance then hire a freakin’ choreographer. At least the dancing ushers (who I really miss!) had a routine planned out and looked like they were having fun. These girls stand around and when they do move they are uncoordinated and have no idea what they are doing. Like I said – embarrassing.

Last word on “development”: What do I think Mr. Hicks should do with his money instead of Glory Park?

1. How about putting a roof on the Ballpark – yeah that’s right – blasphemy right here. You want to put more fans in seats – make it comfortable – give them a reason to drive out on hot July night and stay for the whole game – and maybe they’ll want to come out again because they won’t dread the misery of sitting in the heat. A side benefit: maybe your players won’t wear down as fast and maybe a few free agents will be more interested in coming to Arlington.

2. Use whatever influence you have to get some public transportation to the Ballpark. Back in the 1980’s you could take a DART bus from Dallas to old Arlington Stadium from a couple of the Park n Ride Lots. Get with DART and the T in Fort Worth and make it happen. Get something worked out with TRE to get a bus running to and from the DFW station on game days.

3. Spend some of that money on your front office – Jon Daniels needs better scouting and advisors so he won’t listen to folks urging him to make “Justin Thompson” (e.g. Adam Eaton, Brandon McCarthy) type deals – and he won’t pass up on premium pitching draftees (like Rick Porcello – have you seen his numbers?) just because of money.

For your consideration: Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane changes managers almost as often as he changes his underwear. He doesn’t look for “big” names or rising stars – it’s interesting that in all his managerial searches he never even considered or interviewed Ron Washington who was in their organization for a long time – now I think we Ranger fans know why.

Finally : My favorite feature on Postcards from Elysian Fields is the Friday Happy Hour (sorry Toby you are a close second) – let me point out this paragraph from last Friday:

“* Former Rangers manager Billy Martin: "Another club can be beating you for six innings, but for some reason the good ball clubs get tough and win in the last three."

Need I say more about the Boston series?

"I don't know a lot about politics, but I do know a lot about baseball." (Richard Nixon) – Marla Hooch

8 comments: said...

Marla - What a tremendous post today!!!! You are right on with your comments. I am ticked off about how Hicks continues to take away general parking, something he's been doing for awhile now. As for the roof, I'd make it retractable. I made my first Ballpark appearance of the season about 10 days ago. I couldn't park where I usually do, because that lot was closed to set up the beach volleyball tournament. Once I got inside, for the first time ever, the stadium felt "old", as if very little has been done over the offseason. Anyhow - tremendous post today!! By the way, I haven't read this anywhere, but do you get the feeling that Washington was ordered to play Botts a little more last week?

Anonymous said...

Agree about the roof. IMO, nothing would improve the on-field quality of the team more than putting a roof over their heads.

EMC said...

Anonymous -

Sarcasm always recognized - if you read the entry I'm suggesting the roof as a benefit for the fans - and ultimately Mr. Hicks pockets -because I believe that sitting out in the heat does keep a large number of fans from making additional trips to the Ballpark during the summer.

Keeping the players from wearing down is was mentioned as a "side benefit" not significant improvement for the team.

What will make this team better - roof or not is better on field management, better decision making in the front office and more patience with less interference from the owner.

-- Marla

Anonymous said...

It's me - anonymous - again. Otherwise known as shroom. I wasn't being sarcastic at all. I've been thinking about this lately and I think that putting the team indoors in the shade and A/C would raise the quality of pitching and attract better FA talent. I think the chances of it improving the Rangers' fortunes would be far greater than whatever a new GM, Manager or Farm Director could accomplish over the next, say, 10 years. I'm sick of playing the management shell game. Gimme something can't-miss-tangible that will improve the franchise fate. Gimme a freakin' dome. Pronto. Besides, like you say, fanz like us would relish the comfort big time.

Micah said...

I'm with you on the roof thing. I don't like it, but it would probably attract fans. In talking to some Twins season ticket holders, some live as far away as three or four hours. When the new stadium is built, they might not renew their plans because no roof means no guaranteed game. Right now, they can be assured -- rain or shine -- they will get to see baseball. Perhaps a roof would inspire season ticket holders from beyond the metroplex. Just a thought.

I watched OKC in two games over the weekend (reports in my blog). I liked watching A.J. and Doug pitch. Salty looked pretty decent behind the plate too. Casey Benjamin has good range at SS, and I liked Ryan Roberts too. I did NOT like listening to Kevin Mench gripe to a Cubs coach about being in the minors.

EMC said...

Shoomer -

Apologies - if I'd known it was you I'd have thrown in a "Kung Fu" quote instead!

Micah -

I read your reports this morning and didn't have a chance to write a comment - Mench's attitude doesn't suprise me - he griped the last time he was sent up and down from OKC in 2002-2003 - he's not exactly the "happy-go-lucky" type that Josh Lewin and the other media types like to portray him as.

BR549 - thanks for stopping by - haven't heard from you in awhile. Sometimes I think Tom Hicks would 1. Rather sell nothing but season seats to corporations and the North Dallas "cocaine and boob-job" set (a phrase stolen from "The Ticket")

2. Prefer to have the rest of us regular hard working - single game - LOYAL - fans stay home and watch games on TV.

It seems that many things he's doing is already accomplishing the second part of that "goal".

-- Marla

Jon said...

I gotta take issue with the roof. I think it was George W. who said something like "baseball was meant to be played under an open sky on natural grass". Or something like that, anyway.

I guess I'm just a baseball purist - I hate ballparks with roofs on them, even retractable ones. It always seems to take away from the experience, playing underneath something.

I will admit, I can see how it would be practical, but I just don't like the idea. Yes, I'm stubborn like that.

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