Texas Rangers Information
During the off-season, additions were made to Turnpike Stadium to increase its seating capacity, and it was officially renamed Arlington Stadium. Bob Short also announced that the franchise would be called the Texas Rangers (following the lead of the previous Senators team, which had become the Minnesota Twins). The team played its first game on April 15, 1972, a 1-0 loss at the California Angels. The next day, the Rangers defeated the Angels 5-1 for the team's first victory. The first home game was also against the Angels on April 21. After the season, Ted Williams retired as manager. Whitey Herzog was named the new manager, but he was replaced in the middle of the 1973 season by Billy Martin.
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After excellent seasons between 1977-79, the Rangers came very close in clinching a playoff spot in the first half of 1981. However, Texas lost the game before the strike hit. So the Oakland A's led the first-half Western Division by half-game. After 1981, the Rangers would not win again for another five seasons. During this stretch, the Rangers made one of their worst (and most unpopular) trades ever, sending multi-Gold Glove (and highly popular) catcher Jim Sundberg to the Milwaukee Brewers for future Brewers' manager Ned Yost.
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In a 1990 book titled The Impossible Takes A Little Longer sportswriter Phil Rogers alleged that on May 19, 1986, with little fanfair, Rangers general manager Tom Grieve and Houston Astros general manager Dick Wagner reached an agreement to always deal with each other first for experienced players. Rogers stated that the agreement was carried out in secret due to the fact it would likely have violated anti-collusion regulations and brought down the wrath of the commissioner's office. According to the allegations, the players involved sometimes did not come directly from one team to another. An alleged example was the case of Denny Walling, the Astros third baseman from the 1980s along with Phil Garner, who was given a spot on the 1991 Ranger's roster and allowed to have 44 at-bats. A story by Ivy McLemore in the Houston Post on June 17, 1990 maintained that many of the allegations in Rogers' book were true.
Another alleged example was the Astros allowing former Rangers rookie sensation Pete Incaviglia to make their team in 1992. He struggled in only 113 games with the Astros and was released. In 1994 Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams supposedly brought about the end of the secret deal when he exploded in the Astros bullpen (having previously started his career with the Rangers) by blowing so many saves that he was quickly discarded.
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The Astros general manager during the Wild Thing saga, Bill Wood, publicly stated he would not be bound by any such arrangement. The Rangers are alleged to have responded by refusing to trade first baseman Jack Daugherty to the Astros. In 1998 Pete Incaviglia supposedly invoked an obscure clause in the agreement and was able to garner 16 at-bats in the later part of the 1998 Houston Astros season. At this point Major League Baseball is supposed to have stepped in and officially banned the "Texas Agreement." To this day both Tom Grieve and Dick Wagner deny that any such agreement took place.
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The year 1995 saw the beginnings of the most promise for the Rangers. With a brand new ballpark that hosted its first All-Star Game, Johnny Oates was hired as the Rangers' manager and promptly led them to an AL West division title in 1996. The first Rangers' playoff series in history, 24 years after the franchise came to Texas, saw the Rangers lose to the New York Yankees. But the team had finally made the playoffs. Oates was named AL Manager of the Year and Juan Gonzalez was named AL MVP. The team featured a powerful lineup of hitters with Ivan Rodriguez, Will Clark, Mark McLemore, Dean Palmer, Rusty Greer, Juan Gonzalez, and Mickey Tettleton but continued to struggle with pitching – a reputation that dogs the Rangers to this day – despite having Rick Helling, Aaron Sele, and John Wetteland on their roster. Oates again led the team to AL West championships in 1998 and 1999, but en route to a second straight last place finish, Oates was let go mid-way through the 2001 season.
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Prior to the 2001 season, star free-agent shortstop Alex Rodriguez, previously of the Seattle Mariners, was signed by the Rangers in the most lucrative deal in baseball history: a 10-year, US $252 million contract. The move was considered controversial and was frequently maligned by the media who thought that Hicks was placing too much emphasis on one player instead of spreading out money among many players, especially for a team that lacked significant pitching talent. Although Rodriguez's individual performance was outstanding, the Rangers continued to struggle, and manager Jerry Narron was fired following the 2002 season. He was replaced by seasoned manager Buck Showalter.
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In 2005, the Rangers have struggled to find consistency amid controversy and injuries. Frank Francisco and Carlos Almanzar, two key members of the bullpen, have been sidelined for Tommy John surgery. Kenny Rogers, the team's ace pitcher, received a 20 game suspension from commissioner Bud Selig for attacking a cameraman at Ameriquest Field. (Rogers signed with the Tigers for the 2006 season after the Rangers declined to offer him a contract.) Also, shortly after a spectacular homestand where the Rangers swept all three series (the first time in Rangers history that they ever swept an entire homestand), management unexpectedly placed opening-day starter Ryan Drese on waivers, where he was claimed by the Washington Nationals. After Drese's release and Rogers' suspension, the Rangers struggled to find consistency on the mound, and a disastrous road trip in August in which the Rangers went 1-12 all but assured that the Rangers would not make the playoffs in 2005. Whether the 2005 season is an aberration, or yet another sign of "failed promise", remains to be seen. The Rangers remain one of 3 American League teams (the other 2 being the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays) to have never won a World Series.
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After a slow start to the 2006 season, the Rangers have rebounded and have been near the top of the American League West for much of May and June. Perhaps the most significant improvement has occurred on the pitching staff, which is ranked eighth in the American League in combined ERA after play on June 21, compared to a twelfth-place ranking for the 2005 season. Millwood and Padilla, along with Kameron Loe and John Koronka, have anchored the starting rotation despite Ameriquest Field's deserved reputation as a hitter's ballpark. One problem has been the inconsistency of former closer Francisco Cordero, who has blown eight of his first thirteen save chances. He has been at least temporarily replaced as closer by Akinori Otsuka, and now serves as the set-up man on occasion.
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Rockies vs. Rangers TicketsOn May 31, the Rangers traded first baseman/designated hitter Phil Nevin to the Chicago Cubs for second baseman/outfielder Jerry Hairston, Jr. As of June 22, the Rangers are 39-34 and in second place in the AL West, one half game behind the Oakland Athletics. No team in the division has been able to get out to a big lead so far in the season.