Don’t Do It, It’s A Trap!


With Texas’s late-season failures withstanding, I have bit my tongue on certain issues. Bided my time. And in a way, I’m sorta glad Michael wrote the article before me so my thoughts wouldn’t come off too raw, or rash. After all, baseball is the longest major sport there is — in game time, in schedule length, and in how many months out of the year it consumes — yet, many people are just as quick as they are in any other sport to point out what happens in the small sample, as if it has any intrinsic bearing on the future. Maybe people are just innately impatient. Maybe it’s just in their nature.

That is why, if we are talking about the apparent war between the Jon Daniels camp and the Nolan Ryan camp, it would be irresponsible to be hasty, to rush to judgement. We must take our time with this one. It has to be right.

My thoughts on Nolan Ryan are not a secret. And my opinion of Jon Daniels has remained consistent as well: He is the architect, Nolan receives the glory.

With that on the table, let’s get into the recent news:

In an article centered around the Rangers’ estranged right fielder, Nelson Cruz, Bob Nightengale leaked a shiny nugget that — until that time — had not been part of the public conscience.

He wrote, “The Rangers, trying to solve that power void, tried to pull off a blockbuster deal for Atlanta Braves outfielder Justin Upton before the July 31 trade deadline. The Rangers offered starter Matt Garza, All-Star closer Joe Nathan and outfielder David Murphy, but they were rejected, two high-ranking club officials told USA TODAY Sports. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were unauthorized to publicly talk about personnel decisions.”

It’s not surprising that Jon Daniels was supposedly looking to acquire Justin Upton. He is a guy who’s been on the Rangers radar since last offseason, and being that he is signed through 2015 it would make a lot of sense, given the likely departures of Cruz and Murphy after the season ends.

The not-so-believable part is the purported trade offer; it’s way too light. The Braves have a smart front office and Jon Daniels is not a dumb man, so he obviously knows this. Garza, Nathan and Cruz are all free agents after 2013 (assuming Joe Nathan opts out of his $9 million option), so it seems rather inconceivable that Atlanta’s GM would get hoodwinked by a 4th outfielder, a relief pitcher and mid-rotation starter.

But okay, we’ll roll with it, because Bob Nightengale is a sports writer that’s built himself some equity through responsible reporting in the past.

A day later, Jeff Passan of Fox Sports chimed in with a cryptic passage of his own, writing of Matt Garza: “Over his last 10 starts, [he] has allowed four or more earned runs seven times. The biggest fears of the Rangers’ front office that was pressured by ownership to deal for Garza are proving true: He’s nothing close to a frontline starter, and because they can’t get draft-pick compensation for him, they’re going to rue trading starter C.J. Edwards, whom evaluators absolutely love.”

In a vacuum, this statement makes a ton of sense. It provides a significant part of the reasoning many Ranger fans shared in why July’s trade for Garza didn’t seem like a JD-type trade, giving up a solid collection of minor league talent for a pitcher Texas would only have under contract for two months. It took a little reading between the lines, but for the moment it ostensibly answers the great question of “What was Jon Daniels thinking when he made that move?”

However, it also begs the question: If the front office was pressured by ownership to facilitate a trade of such magnitude, then why are we only hearing about it now? If Passan has connections in the Rangers front office, why did they not express their concerns under anonymity before? Isn’t that, like, the point of anonymity? 

And that might be why I feel so much trepidation in submitting to this as factual information: It’s too obvious. Jeff Passan is a whore in electronic journalism. His job — like most writers — is to get people to click on his articles.

So this is basically the spot I’m in. I’m faced with an idea I don’t believe from a writer I have respect for, and another idea I do believe from a writer whose “reports” I don’t find to be particularly trustworthy.

To me, this is an intellectual problem. I wish I was ignorant and naïve enough to believe everything I read online or see on my TV; my world would revolve so much smoother and so much more carefree that way. But I can’t. I just can’t.

This brings us to door #3, in an article David Schoenfield wrote on Sunday for ESPN, titled, “As Rangers fold, time for Washington to go”. Since I imagine the majority of you are already well aware of my thoughts as far as Ron Washington is concerned, and because the headline of that speaks for itself, I won’t go further than this excerpt:

“If pain, suffering and agony are requirements needed to fulfill True Baseball Town status, Dallas-Fort Worth is now eligible to apply. After all, I’m not sure fans of any team have suffered a four-year span like the Rangers have: 

–A World Series loss in 2010. 
–A crushing World Series loss in 2011. 
–An epic final-week collapse in 2012 that cost them the division title. 
–A loss to the Orioles in the wild-card game. A game that Joe Saunders started. 
–An impending epic September collapse in 2013. “

I won’t lie. I agree with much of what Schoenfield is saying.

But what got me thinking was the timing of it, and furthermore the timing of all these articles. The Rangers are proven to be the hot-button issue of many of these national writers, taking us from Jon Daniels aiming to acquire Justin Upton to his very camp being pressured by ownership to swing a trade they didn’t want to make all the way down to why Ron Washington should be fired.

And, you know, the more I read about this organization right now, the more I believe it’s horse shit. All of it.

If you remember back to February — when Nolan Ryan was in the midst of a two week media silence after Jon Daniels was promoted to the president of baseball operations — the Dallas/Fort-Worth media was having a field day. In the infantile stages of spring training, they needed something to write about, and us, the viewing public, ate it up. Because what the hell else are we supposed to focus on? Spring training? Please.

After awhile it became almost a certainty that Nolan would not be returning to the organization — which was no sweat of my back — if for nothing else that that’s what we were all being fed. When there is nothing to talk about, it’s necessary to invent something to talk about. So we talked about it. We tried to work out the varying theories and motivations of these characters in the drama that was unfolding. After roughly two weeks without Nolan Ryan telling us the media was wrong, that everything was actually fine, we used that as fuel to justify our reasoning. If he was coming back, he would have said so by now.

But as we know, nothing happened. Ryan returned to the organization with the title of CEO and then the year started and we had plenty of other hot topics to discuss. Like whether or not Yu Darvish is an “ace,” why the offense wasn’t scoring runs, how the team would respond once Nelson Cruz accepted his 50-game suspension. The storylines wrote themselves.

That’s why while I sit here, I can’t help but to think we — the fans — are the ones being tricked. People love many things, but few they love more than a good mystery, or a good drama. These are the stories that get people to click, no matter how false they may be in actuality.

The longer it goes, and the more of it there is, the more I think Ron Washington will be returning as manager in 2014, the more I think the front office is actually much more cohesive than is being led on.

We’ll see where it goes from here, but for the time being, just understand where it is you get your information, and how much stock of yours it deserves.

Including this.