I could use some of this.

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THE
NEWBERG REPORT

 

You
squint a bit, like you would looking at Justin Smoak and seeing Mark Teixeira, like
looking at Chris Davis and seeing Lou Ferrigno, like looking at a bundled up Wade
Phillips and seeing Ralphie’s little brother.

 

You
squint, ignoring the sheen of ice glazing the outfield grass, and you can
almost make out those LED ribbon panels stretching across the façade of the home
run porch and above the left field wall and from foul pole to foul pole, activating the game presentation, not in
a gaudy, misplaced, hockeyized way, but spiking the atmosphere created each
night by the brilliant Chuck Morgan with moments of high energy, audio-visual adrenaline.  Chuck will do it right, as he always does, with
the stretches of ribbon (longest in sports next to Dolphins Stadium and the new
Yankee Stadium), finding the right balance.

 

You
squint, imagining that manual out-of-town scoreboard in left field giving way to
an in-house, league-wide Gamecast of sorts, an LED video display greater in
length than an NFL red zone, feeding us not only scores from around the league
but also how many are out and on the bases in each game in real time . . . plus
replays from the Rangers game in progress.

 

Something
like this:

 

[there's a photo here that you saw if you're on the mailing list]


All
of that’s good.  I’m excited about it.  I like the idea of making Rangers Ballpark more
energetic, however that can be done.  There’s
a fine line between turning the electricity up a bit, and sensory overload, and
I know Chuck will always engineer things on the right side of that line.  He’s a baseball fan, a baseball purist, and
part of the soul of this franchise, and the game will always be the thing.  The stadium will never light up like a
pinball machine under his watch, but there’s nothing wrong with a well-placed,
well-timed A/V assault. 

 

But
here’s something completely different, and it has me equally excited.

 

We
were driving down the highway the other day – in fact, coming back from the
Extreme Makeover site in Keller – and Max recognized a billboard with Josh
Hamilton on it. 

 

Hamilton was wearing a black T-shirt.  No uniform, no cap, no blue and no red.  No tattoos visible, no eyeblack.  Just Hamilton’s
head and shoulders, in black and white, in a calm pose, on a billboard that
didn’t have his name or any hint of baseball anywhere on it.

 

And
my four-year-old recognized him.

 

For
years one of my frustrations about how this team was marketed was that the advertising
firms steered the Rangers to sell the sport rather than the team, concepts to
the exclusion of the players.  Yes, I
could use some baseball, but not because “first base has nothing to do with
kissing,” or because “fond memories are not created in strip malls.”

 

I
could use some Rangers baseball because of this:


[photo]

 

And
this:


[photo]

 

And
this:


[photo]

 

And
this:


[photo]

 

And
this:


[photo]

 

For
a while there seemed to be a reluctance here to market this team’s players, but
that seems to have gone away, I’m happy to say. 

 

My
kids love the dot race, and the nachos, and the fireworks, but they really love watching Michael Young and
Chris Davis play baseball.

 

Last
Wednesday we had our book release party, which 500 of you attended.  Young and his wife Cristina were among the
first of our five Rangers guests to arrive at Sherlock’s in Arlington, and three hours later, as we were
shutting down, they were still there. 

 

Nobody
from the Rangers told them to be there, or even asked them if they would show
up.  In fact, nobody from the Newberg Report
asked them, either.  They asked me if
they could be there that night.

 

I’m
serious.

 

When
Cristina and Michael got to Sherlock’s, they didn’t walk in hand-in-hand,
though.  Because they couldn’t.  Each of them was loaded down with toys they’d
bought to donate to the Toys for Tots drive we were helping with that night. 

 

There
were no TV cameras at our event.  No reporters.  There was no P.R. stunt in mind – and not
even a P.R. opportunity – Cristina and Michael just did what they do, consistent
with everything I’ve come to know about them. 
They were guests at our event, and yet among the first to set a haul of
toys down for our collection, which ended up exceeding 100 toys for the night -
a fraction of the 2000 toys (and over $2,500 in cash) that the Rangers collected
for the holiday drive in conjunction with the Marine Corps, but a fraction I’m
proud to say our little community contributed to the cause, which was chaired on
behalf of the organization by brand new parents Tess and Ian Kinsler.

 

Earlier
that same day, Young and Davis and Derek Holland, each of whom spent the entire
evening with us, signing autographs and sitting for a Q&A, had been at Cook
Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, along with a handful of their
teammates and other Rangers representatives, hosting a party for the kids there
and visiting their individual hospital rooms, brightening the day of so many
who are teeing it up against something much more formidable than the Angels or
Red Sox or Rays.  You probably didn’t
catch a glimpse of that on the news, as each local affiliate had probably
dispatched every one of their cameramen to Valley Ranch, just to be sure they
didn’t miss a T.O comment from L.P. Ladouceur, or Bruce Read, or Rowdy.

 

When
my family spent some time at the Extreme Makeover event on Saturday, we learned
that Kevin Millwood had been invited to come to the construction site on Thursday
to help build the house.  ABC asked for
an hour of Millwood’s time.

 

Seven
hours later, he wasn’t ready to stop.

 

Saturday
afternoon, at the construction site, the Rangers presented a check to the
Keller Community Storehouse, a check that will go to provide food, clothing, health
care, school supplies, and holiday gifts to a host of children in need in the
Keller community.

 

Yesterday,
as a media luncheon was finishing up at the Ballpark, I watched as Davis hosted a Christmas Party for dozens of kids from Dallas’s Promise House, an
organization that supports homeless, runaway, and at-risk teenagers. 

 

A
veteran of all of three months in the big leagues, Davis has given a ton of his time this winter
to this community.  He gets it.  It’s inspiring.

 

A
simple Google search and a look at a site like Cot’s Baseball Contracts will
tell you that most of the Rangers’ veteran players donate portions of their
contracts to the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation.  I asked and found out that, in 2008, Rangers
players personally contributed nearly $600,000 of the $800,000 that the Foundation
raised, a figure at or near the top mark in the league.  That of course says nothing of the time and
energy that the players give to the causes and efforts that the organization sponsors.

 

Or
the toys that Cristina and Michael brought to an event at which they were featured
guests, toys they brought when nobody was looking, basically. 

 

There
aren’t many words that Max can read yet, though when he saw the “You could use
some baseball” billboards a year or two ago, the instantly recognizable Rangers
logo caught his attention nonetheless.

 

But
so did Josh Hamilton’s face a few days ago. 

 

I’m
fired up to see this franchise – this improving franchise – marketing its
players more so than catchphrases these days. 

 

And
I’m humbled when I see what these players are willing to do for their
community, even when there’s no marketing going on, no image boost to be
gained.  To be able to see these things
happen with my kids there to experience them too?  Can’t put a price tag on that.

 

Those
moments are ones I remember, moments that this game gives me and my family, just
as sure as those moments in 2009 when a Chris Davis missile into the visitors’
bullpen or a Michael Young leaping pivot to turn an inning-ending 4-6-3 – or,
who knows, maybe a shutdown eighth from Ben Sheets – sends those ribbon panels into
an adrenaline launch that matches our own, as we continue to pour our own passion
into this ballclub that helps define not only the players in uniform and in the
community, but so many of us as well.

 


2 Comments

Hi Jamey, I could not get the pic’s you put up to display.
It’s really good to see the players do stuff even when they are not asked to do anything. I really hate the way the media and others talk about trading away players like pieces of meat but I guess thats the way of baseball. Great blog thanks

Click the story on http://www.newbergreport.com to see the photos.

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