THE NEWBERG REPORT — SEPTEMBER 8, 2006

It’s frustrating. The Rangers, despite failing to keep up with Oakland in August and all but falling out of the race, haven’t quit, playing .600 ball over the last month. But suddenly that’s not the story.

I’m sure Tom Hicks was frustrated like we all were by the way the club dropped three of four in Tampa after taking three of four in Detroit, and I’m sure he didn’t mean for his words to come across the way they did on Norm Hitzges’s show on Tuesday, and especially the way they were evidently conveyed by the press to the players to elicit a reaction. I believe him when he said afterwards that he considers Michael Young “the heart and soul” of the team and hopes he’ll be a Ranger for life. I’m sure it wasn’t Young he meant to call out when he said the team needs to be mentally tougher — not the best choice of words regardless of who he had in mind — and I’m going to chalk it up to frustration.

I’m sure Michael Young is frustrated, because Michael Young will never be satisfied with anything less than a World Series title. Love that about him. He’s a leader, by any definition. (And there’s no definition of leadership that I know of that measures it in decibels.)

(Unless there’s one that says Rusty Greer and Derek Jeter and Don Mattingly and Troy Aikman and Wayne Gretzky weren’t leaders.)

If there’s one player — anywhere in the league — or one manager who questions Michael Young’s leadership, or toughness, I’d like to know who it is.

I’m sure the reporter who wrote the story that got all this rolling is frustrated that his editors have moved his game stories to page 12 and decimated his space to the point where the game story and the daily notes now get crunched together under one headline. Maybe there was more context to the story that just never got into the paper. Maybe not.

I’m sure Jon Daniels is frustrated that he had to confront the issue at all. But as he always does, he handled it perfectly.

(Another quiet leader.)

You have no idea how much I’d rather be writing about Frankie Francisco or John Mayberry Jr. or Mark Teixeira and the Roberto Clemente Award than about this.

Michael said it best, reacting to the comments that have regrettably triggered stories locally and nationally, in print and online and on the air: “I’m not interested in making side notes the focus of the rest of our season.”

There he goes again. Leading by example.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

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