I told him that back in the day — when the current team president was throwing no-hitters in his 40s, and a future president of the United States was in charge — I covered the team as a beat writer.
And then Greenberg, who at that point was in the midst of a protracted purchase bid, joked: “That was about the same time we started trying to buy the team.’’
Funny. And the more you think about it, the theme of waiting a long time for something special runs throughout the Rangers as they prepare for their first American League Championship Series.
The bid by Greenberg’s group was approved in August — a fortuitous outcome that kept Nolan Ryan and an underrated front-office team in place, cementing the club’s near-future. No more waiting and wondering, stuck in Tom Hicks’ over-leveraged limbo.
Two months later, everybody from top to bottom in the organization is celebrating the end of an historic drought — a half-century as a franchise, the last 39 years in Arlington, without a playoff series victory.
Even after knocking off the Tampa Bay Rays in the division series, the Rangers still are looking for their first victory in a home playoff game. All three wins over the Rays came at Tropicana Field, and the Rangers’ only other victory in three division series against the New York Yankees came in Game 1 of the 1996 ALDS at Yankee Stadium.
But that could end as soon as Friday night, when ALCS Game 1 will be played at Rangers Ballpark.
After the ALDS-clinching win in Tampa on Tuesday, it was harder to find a bigger smile than the one on manager Ron Washington’s face.
A baseball lifer, he spent 11 seasons as an Oakland A’s coach before getting his chance to manage the Rangers in 2007, and almost saw it slip away this spring, when he admitted to a one-time cocaine use in 2009.
But ownership and the front office stuck with him, his players rallied around him, and there he was after the final out, hugging 71-year-old bench coach Jackie Moore, who is in his fourth stint dating back to 1973 as a Rangers coach, but in his first postseason wearing their uniform.
Michael Young, longtime All-Star and team anchor, played in 1,508 regular-season games before his first playoff appearance. Only Randy Winn among active players has waited longer.
We all know Josh Hamilton’s inspirational story. As recently as 2005, the likely AL Most Valuable Player was caught in a downward spiral of substance abuse that cost him three full seasons and nearly washed away the potential that made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 amateur draft.
And this is an organization that committed to a draft-and-develop philosophy several years ago, and is seeing the rewards — led by Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz and Tommy Hunter, with more on the way in Tanner Scheppers, Martin Perez and Engel Beltre.
Greenberg says he wants to extend the contract of general manager Jon Daniels — who executed the philosophy, not to mention adding Cliff Lee and Bengie Molina before the trade deadline — and Greenberg needs to before somebody steals Daniels away this off-season.
But for all the waiting, make no mistake — the Rangers are a very dangerous bunch heading into their latest shot at Goliath. They’re playing fast and loose, complete with their trademark celebratory antler signs. They are younger, more-daring and more-athletic than the Yankees.
They’ve weathered adversity and are better for it. Consider: Their No. 1 and No. 2 starters coming out of spring training — Rich Harden and Scott Feldman — aren’t on the postseason roster.
They survived long stretches without three of their best players — Ian Kinsler missed 59 games, Nelson Cruz missed 54, and Hamilton played only three regular-season games after Sept. 4.
They also went through six first baseman and five catchers, but now things have come together nicely, and they know it.
So do the Yankees, who very conveniently underachieved down the stretch to end up as the wild card — thereby avoiding a first-round matchup with Lee and the Rangers.
We pose this question: If this series gets to a Game 7, who doesn’t think that Lee would win it? And it certainly can get that far; this is all that has to happen:
The Rangers split the first two at home, Lee wins Game 3 in Yankee Stadium, and then they need only one more win in Games 4-5-6, with the first of those being started by Yankees question mark/knucklehead A.J. Burnett.
But no matter when this postseason ride ends, the Rangers have something else in common with the Yankees — their very own exorbitant local television contract that will kick in in 2015, vaulting them into the game’s economic stratosphere.
The initial report was a 20-year, $3-billion deal with Fox Sports Southwest. Subsequent reports have cut the dollar amount almost in half — a far more believable number, but still one that would net the franchise $75-$80 million per season before a season ticket is sold. Either way, it will be worth the wait.
NEW YORK (AP) - Yankees fans showed Don Mattingly the love from the moment he took the lineup card to home plate Wednesday. Hiroki Kuroda, though, wasn't feeling nostalgic when facing his old team.
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