A break in the clouds.
The second tide of comments had a lot more for those of us who
look to sports for optimism to embrace:
From Jon Daniels: “I
understand Michael is frustrated, he’s upset.
I have all the respect in the world for the guy, and you’re never going
to hear me or anyone who works here say anything negative about the guy. We hope, with some time, we can get back on
the same page.”
From Michael Young: “I hope
we’ll just continue to talk and see where each other stand.”
From Nolan Ryan: “Obviously,
if [a move to third base is] going to be done, it needs to be agreed upon.”
From Daniels: “We think
[this move] will bring our club, his team, closer to a World Series, and that’s what it will be about. At the end of the day, I think that will
resonate with him, as it does with any competitor.”
From Young: “The ball is in
their court right now. Tomorrow, I’m
going to wake up, I’m going to do my workouts, I’m going to go get ready to
play winning baseball. As far as what
happens at spring training, time will tell.”
From Daniels: “I still
believe there is a likelihood that we can come together on this and put it
behind us. We want to have further
discussions with Mike and talk to him about it.
We’re all preparing for Michael to be an integral part of our team going
From Young: “Having been
here as long as I have been, I would love to be here when this team finally
breaks through. And I think it could
I believe in Michael Young, I believe in Jon Daniels, and I
believe in Nolan Ryan. And I am counting
on a resolution to this, a positive one, because I know they all want the same
thing: To win in Texas.
A little story, one that I hadn’t thought about in a long time but
makes me realize, just maybe, why this development has been a tough one for me
to get my head wrapped around, why it resonates with me though I’m struggling
to find any clarity in it.
I was a pretty even-keeled high school kid. I was more passionate on the baseball field
than I was in class, which in retrospect I think was mostly because, socially,
I was trying to distance myself from being known as “the smart kid.”
I’d been a shortstop and pretty much nothing else since T-ball,
with only two interruptions: my freshman year at Hillcrest, when I played
second base and third base, and my junior year, when Coach Price decided to
make me a pitcher for the first time in my life.
As a sophomore, I was Honorable Mention All-District at
shortstop. As a junior, I earned Second-Team,
playing there on days I didn’t pitch. I
liked pitching (I struck out 29 batters in 14 innings in my first two games
pitched, maybe the greatest adrenaline rush I’ve ever had playing ball). But I loved shortstop.
I couldn’t wait for my senior year. I had it all mapped out – I’d take that next
step and earn the first-team district recognition, I’d pitch with more of a
plan than I had that first year on the mound, and we’d return to the playoffs,
which we’d missed the year before after having reached the post-season my
But then school started in the fall of 1986, and two unexpected
things happened: (1) Coach Price disappeared, after more than a decade at
Hillcrest, and suddenly we had a new coach, a guy who had run a junior varsity
team across town for a couple years; and (2) a kid had transferred to Hillcrest
from Iowa, a hotshot sophomore who apparently had some pretty good chops at
shortstop. I wasn’t crazy about Coach
Schrantz taking over, but I was pumped about Tony Olson arriving. The kid was evidently a ballplayer, and he
was going to make us better.
I can’t remember when it was that Coach Schrantz told me (over the
beaten-up Boston cassette tape of his that I think played only “More Than a
Feeling” and “Don’t Look Back”) that I was no longer going to be the starting
shortstop and number two starter, but instead an outfielder and relief pitcher.
But I remember my reaction.
I was absolutely livid.
Who was this guy coming in here and telling me, a lifelong
shortstop and two-year captain of the team, that we were going to be better
with a younger kid playing short, and with me playing in the outfield – the outfield – something I’d barely done in
13 years of playing ball? This was
probably going to be my final year as a baseball player, and I was being told I
needed to be at a less critical position, to make room for a kid who nobody had
seen play. It was a slap in the face.
As even-keeled as I was, this set me off (privately).
Then I went out and had more fun playing baseball than I’ve ever
It turned out my arm, which was my best tool, was more reliable
from 250 feet than from 120. Going in, I
thought of the outfield as an insult, an eviction, a death sentence. But Tony was
pretty dependable at shortstop, I made First-Team All-District as an
outfielder, and, most important to me, then and now, we made it back into the
When I tried in 1987 and 1989 to walk onto the baseball team at
the University of
Texas, I did so as an
outfielder. I didn’t make the team
either time. I remember thinking to
myself, during those two experiences and a thousand times since, I wonder how
things might have worked out differently if someone had made me an outfielder
before I was 18.
Not that I would have been any less outraged – at the time – when
I was told my team would be better with me moving away from shortstop.
There’s probably more to this latest Rangers story than we know,
but I think I’m at the point that it
doesn’t matter to me who said what, how it was delivered, or how it was
received. What I care about now is how
it gets resolved, by people who care about the same things, the right things.
I’m going to draw on some of that old even keel of mine and calmly
bank on the leaders of the Rangers organization – the Player and the GM and the
President – getting this thing worked out, moving forward, getting along, and