Twilight in the House of Hicks
Tom Hicks wanted to win. Badly.
Just about every move that Hicks made as the owner of the Rangers was made in the belief that it would ultimately help the club reach the World Series and win it. That was his only goal as owner of the Rangers. Anybody could see he was never in this for the money.
All perceptions to the contrary just are not fair.
Obviously he did not achieve his dream. Obviously the Rangers are dealing with a frustrated and disillusioned fan base. That part is painfully obvious. Eight losing seasons in ten years speaks for itself. So does the bank account and attendance figures
But Hicks did not fail for lack of trying. He tried hard. Perhaps too hard.
Consider $250 million for Alex Rodriguez, $65 million to Chan Ho Park, $60 million to Kevin Millwood, the long-term deals for Michael Young and Ian Kinsler, a relentless courtship of Roger Clemens that proved fruitless, a $99 million offer to Barry Zito – how does that look now – and significant offers to Randy Johnson, Carlos Delgado and others, a $150 million offer to Mark Teixeira, millions of dollars poured into scouting, player development and Latin America, the return of Nolan Ryan.
Anybody remember he authorized $2 million to a second-round pick – Vince Sinisi – who proved to be a bust?
Hicks thought he had it right when he hired a general manager with an unquestionably successful track record as well as a manager who had a significant role in building World Series championship teams with two different organizations. But he did so while arranging a shotgun marriage between John Hart and scouting director Grady Fuson that ultimately proved untenable.
It almost seems that the harder he tried, the worse it got until he realized that there are simply no short cuts in baseball. None, unless your home address is in the South Bronx.
Maybe if Hicks hadn’t fired Doug Melvin, but if Bob Short doesn’t fire Whitey Herzog then….
Roger Kahn wrote, “Losing after great striving is the story of man, who was born to sorrow, whose sweetest songs tell of saddest thoughts…”
In the end, Hicks just ran out of time and money, and ran into an economy that was tough on everybody. It’s almost like he gave everything he had until he had nothing left to give, although it was obvious in the end he was still trying hard to retain control of the team. He wanted it badly, right up to the very end.
This is almost like Lyndon Johnson at the end of his presidency, a man who believed in the Great Society and all it stood for, and believed what he was doing was the best for all Americans, but also knew that, because of the Vietnam War, he did not have the support to continue for another term in office. There comes a time when the hardest choice is the best choice and that is to step aside.
By Opening Day, the Rangers should be under new management. Hicks will be on the sidelines. The team will belong to Chuck Greenberg, Nolan Ryan and others. Hicks will be a part of it but not in the same capacity.
It is undeniable that public opinion is in favor of this deal. Having the most popular athlete in the history of the state on your side certainly is huge. Great expectations and rising optimism perhaps bounds again. Let the honeymoon begin.
The new regime is bound to bring renewed energy, great ideas and hopeful promises for the future…just like Hicks did in 1998.
He did everything he possibly could to make it happen. Whatever went wrong, it was never because of the lack of trying or a will to win.