Don’t Trust The Media; Blame Them
By Eric Reining
A few days ago I posted a new poll question asking which word best illuminates the Rangers’ offseason, and I’m not terribly surprised by the initial returns. 20 of the first 30 votes (67%) describe it as “disappointing,” with 5 (17%) saying “safe” and 5 (17%) declaring “smart.”
In fact, I’m not surprised even a speckle.
Once I perused through my college dropout-level vocabulary, and individually pressed the 13 buttons making up disappointing, I knew the popular selection was set. That’s my mistake for being so transparent. My blame isn’t directed at the notion that I’m right and you (as a collection) are wrong; it’s not that people focused on baseball traditionalism aren’t yet keenly familiar with sabermetrics. That would be severely inaccurate, presumptive, and arrogant of me. My beef is with the national media, whether it be ESPN or MLB Network, or any online tributary, branching away, and eating at the minds who are always in desperate need to feel something more, rather than know more.
The job of mostly anyone on television, the radio, or writing up newspaper columns, is to rile up the masses. To gain an audience. To maintain an audience. It must be generally informative, universally plausible, and most importantly, it has to be entertaining. Each step away from entertainment risks losing viewers, because let’s face it, objective knowledge is boring; people want what’s sexy.
We are, after all, from the generation of 15- and 30-second commercial clips, YouTube, Twitter, Cliff Notes, fast food, and instant gratification. The patience it takes to wake up on Sundays, pour coffee, and read the newspaper, is dead. Listening to the radio, rather than seeing something live, is dead. The masses want pictures instead of words, objects in motion rather than pictures, objects in fast motion rather than normal motion … and I just can’t wrap my measly little brain around the fact that I was born just a decade before the dawn of the new millennium, wondering why the hell the world packed its bags and wanted to leave me all of a sudden.
It’s sad because I, too, suffer from the incessant stranglehold of impatience. I’m not immune from the phenomenon, because I’ve been conditioned for such since the inception of life as I’ve known it. I suppose I recognize it with more prevalence than most individuals around my same age, because I’ve yet to release myself of the small fragments that remain of my adolescent romanticism with the world. Perhaps that’s my bad. I don’t care if it’s my reality, my reality that will never be, or some baseball team I became a fan of when I was in Kindergarten: Everything is a love story to me, and when some 3rd-party entity — in this case, the national media — tries to further separate me from it, I take offense.
If I had to describe this Rangers’ offseason, I would vote “Smart,” because, well, I’m too goddamn rational to vote otherwise.
If you’d like to view what Texas has done (or hasn’t done) this offseason on a macro-level — as a collection — then yeah, we’ve lost a lot. We’ve lost Josh Hamilton (5/125), Mike Napoli (3/39), Ryan Dempster (2/26.5), Mike Adams (2/12), Michael Young (trade) and Koji Uehara (1/4.25). But big business dictates that looking at matters in such a way is fiscally irresponsible, as I’d have a hard time saying any one of those guys hasn’t already played the best seasons of their career. To that end, you’d have to say it was smart business.
If you’d like to take it to the next level, in terms of players we could have acquired, via trade, both the James Shields and R.A. Dickey trades were massive overpayments from the teams getting hold of the veterans. The Royals gave up their top prospect, Wil Myers, in a deal to ascertain fringe-#2 starter James Shields, and Toronto gave up the best catcher in the minor leagues, Travis d’Arnaud, to recoup Dickey. Comparable packages would have sent guys like Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt and Cody Buckel elsewhere.
Let us not forget, the Rangers have been to two of the previous three Fall Classic’s; it’s smart, shrewd acquisitions that have taken us there, not relinquishing the farm to play for just one.
So, yeah. I know the Rangers front office has been reamed in recent weeks for not doing anything — or, not doing enough — but drastic overpayments, whether in free agency or through trade, would close our window of opportunity that right now looks endless. I’d rather make it to the playoffs seven of ten years than do what the Angels are doing, for instance, hoping for the main prize before Hamilton or Pujols enter the dark decline of typical age-30-somethings.
We are good. We are going to be good. There’s nothing wrong with sitting back, staying objective, and watching the dominoes fall in place.
Even if they don’t in the direction we were once hoping for. Management has a plan. By this point, we should trust it.