Inspired by the late, great, Robert Stack, some recent discussions in the chats pertaining to the seminal 80s/90s television series Unsolved Mysteries, and one particularly horrifying unsolved case that garnered mainstream attention from that show, I wanted to stop down for a moment here on the off day and contemplate some less sinister unsolved mysteries and hypotheticals that pertain to the Texas Rangers.
Being the Rangers message board junkie that I was during the few years that preceded my BBTiA run, and given that my eyes are locked onto my RSS reader/TweetDeck more than I'd care to admit, I've digested a lot of bizarre stories and pseudo-conspiracy theories that not even most internet-savvy Rangers fans are aware of ever having occurred. I vaguely recall one story from the NMLR forum -- apocryphal, in all likelihood, but with just enough detail to suggest there was some truth to it -- of Tom Hicks planning to shock and wow the Dallas Stars' home crowd at Reunion Arena on February 18th, 1999 by introducing Roger Clemens as a Ranger, and then being flabbergasted when (a) Clemens didn't show up and (b) the Blue Jays ended up opting for the Yankees' offer instead, with the trade becoming official the next day.
I also vividly recall reading a Fort Worth Star-Telegram blurb about an unknown man found hanging from a tree at the corner of Randol Mill Road and Nolan Ryan Expressway (or the southwestern corner of the Ballpark) early one morning, which transpired just a couple of days before either Opening Day 2009 or 2010. I never saw any further details on the incident, who the man was, or why/how he had opted to hang himself at that particular location with no residences within sight.
In any event, though, I've dreamed up a handful of unsolved Rangers mysteries and hypotheticals (some rather innocuous, some sordid, and some just depressing), and I invite you all to take a stab at cracking these puzzles and/or fill in the gaps with obvious mysteries that I'm forgetting:
● What really happened to Hank Blalock? I don't mean "happened" as in what happened to Blalock after he dropped off the map; I mean what happened for Blalock that caused him to go from hitting .300/.350/.522 with 29 homers and 5.1 fWAR in his age-22 season -- and a potential Hall of Fame career trajectory at third base -- to a one-dimensional hacker who was literally out of baseball before his 30th birthday? Where in the hell did it all go so horribly, terribly, impossibly wrong?
● Shortly before his unceremonious release in early June 2008, did Sidney Ponson really (a) get involved in a clubhouse fight with Michael Young, and/or (b) fire an unforgivable racial epithet at Ron Washington during an angry clubhouse exchange, as was reportedby at least one prominent Metroplex sports radio station at the time?
● Which executives were moaning and complaining about Jon Daniels driving too hard of a bargain during the 2005 winter meetings? And which smart-alecked executive reportedly told Ken Rosenthal at the time, "In every trade proposal, [Daniels is] asking for the other general manager's first born, plus two pitchers." Is said executive even with that same team anymore, or did Daniels outlast him?
● I recognize the sordid and sensitive nature of this subject, but it's always going to linger out there, and if it really bothers you enough, you can skim over it: What really happened after Josh Hamilton left that Arizona bar back in January 2009? And while we've heard plenty of hearsay on this front, what really happened at Sherlock's?
● What's the real reason why we've continued to hear conflicting information on the value of the Rangers' television deal with FOX Sports Southwest? Is the commonly touted $1.6 billion figure simply the net present value of a base $3 billion contract (which, as I've mentioned in the past, doesn't seem to make a lot of sense)? Is the deal actually in line to be worth more than $3 billion if certain escalators kick in, as Maury Brown reported last December? How much of that money has already been expended by the Rangers, given that there was reportedly a considerable upfront bonus paid to the Rangers?
● Just how close were the Rangers to trading Michael Young back in 2009 and, in particular, back in 2011, when the rift between Young and the club seemed all but irreconcilable?
● How would the timeline of the last 2½ years played out if Tom Hicks had succeeded in his bid to negotiate his own contract extension with FOX Sports Southwest back in December 2009, and had secured enough upfront money -- albeit with diminished television revenues down the line -- to somehow, some way, retain control of the club? (This bid, as you may recall, was shot down by Major League Baseball.) Would Jon Daniels or Nolan Ryan still be here? Would the Rangers still have made the necessary moves to make it to the post-season in 2010-11, or would Hicks' continued spendthrift ways have torpedoed the Rangers' current run before it ever got started?
● Did a disgruntled ex-Rangers clubhouse employee really and truly leak the Ron Washington cocaine story -- as Randy Galloway wrote about in great detail -- after his attempt to blackmail the organization (which entailed several demands, including a "glowing letter of recommendation" that the Rangers purportedly refused to supply) ended up going nowhere? The Rangers emphatically and categorically denied that there was any truth to the blackmail aspect of the story, but where did the truth actually lie?
I could easily come up with more, but I think I'll start the ball rolling here and see where this ends up taking us. Maybe I'll get started on that similarly dark Rule 29 draft post while I'm waiting.