You know what I'm having an incredibly hard time coping with right now? The fact that these last 10 games have been not only forgettable, but also crushing in the playoff-hunting sense. We've grown too accustomed to late-season disappointment and apathy over the last decade, and 2009 has been a welcome departure from the norm ... but I don't think any of us were ready for it to end. Not like this, anyway.
With the Texas Rangers essentially playing for 90 wins and/or pride, a little extra developmental time for the flourishing under-25 set and not a whole lot else, a highly unsettled ownership situation figures to hog the limelight as the off-season draws ever nearer.
What is this going to mean, coverage-wise? It's going to mean that, in all likelihood, even the most innocuous quotes and tidbits -- anonymous or otherwise -- from prospective bidders, members of the Hicks Sports Group entertainment empire, the commissioner's office and sports business pundits are going to be dissected and re-dissected to the brink of exhaustion. Sounds great, doesn't it?
In the last 48 hours, it has come to light that (a) neither George W. Bush nor Nolan Ryan have designs on becoming involved whatsoever, (b) former Padres CEO and major league umpire disciplinarian Sandy Alderson is rumored to be cobbling together a potential group of investors and (c) apparent longshot Dennis Gilbert -- a one-time baseball superagent -- is fronting an investment group that has already submitted a bid for the financially beset franchise to Hicks Sports Group.
None of these developments are terribly interesting when viewed in isolation, but the appearance of two relatively high-profile names on the map rightly piqued my interest. According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Gilbert would be "active" in running the team if he should be so fortunate as to submit the winning bid, with visions of creating a regional television network similar to the Yankees' extremely profitable YES Network venture, and building a baseball academy in Mexico loaded with amateur Japanese talent.
Alderson has similarly pushed the innovative envelope during his professional career, keying in on sabermetric principles -- particularly the value of on-base percentage -- during his 15-year stint as the Athletics' general manager, emerging victorious in baseball's infamous showdown with its umpires at the end of the 1999 season and, much later, spearheading the Padres' push into Latin America; that culminated in the unveiling of a state-of-the-art baseball academy in Najayo, San Cristobal early last year.
I think that one of the prerequisites to being a quality owner is -- or should be, at least -- having the common sense to recognize that the current management team deserves a shot to finish what it has started. Sufficient funding? Well, duh. But another prized attribute in any potential majority owner would, I think, be that willingness to take a few chances beyond the mere scope of baseball operations and better position the organization to reap the rewards of the hopefully upcoming procession of winning seasons.
A lot of people have questioned why the Rangers, equipped with a relatively new venue and positioned in one of the nation's 10 largest media markets, have failed to gain much of a regional foothold, much less a national one. Much of that has to do with consistently mediocre baseball being played in Arlington over this last decade (with 2004 and 2009 being the notable exceptions), but I've long believed that there is untapped marketing and branding potential in the Rangers just waiting to be realized ... and maybe, just maybe, Gilbert or Alderson or another nameless participant in the bidding is just the person to exploit that.
Quick Hits: Team USA's Justin Smoak has now clobbered nine home runs in 10 games in the Baseball World Cup in Italy, with at least part of that white-hot streak being the product of swing adjustments prescribed by minor league hitting coordinator Mike Boulanger during Smoak's second-half stint at Triple-A Oklahoma City ... Left-hander Eddie Guardado, who turns 39 years old on October 2nd, is contemplating retirement ... Josh Hamilton (pinched nerve, lower back; sore right gluteus muscle) has resumed taking batting practice and shagging fly balls and believes he is ready to return to the lineup ... Third baseman Michael Young (strained left hamstring), who re-aggravated his injury after attempting an early comeback last Tuesday, remains out indefinitely.