Posted on: November 30, 2011 6:58 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2011 7:01 pm
Thad Levine, Rangers' assistant general manager, has removed his name from consideration for the Houston GM job one day after the Astros obtained permission from Texas to talk with him.
"He loves the Texas Rangers," a person close to Levine said.
Levine issued a statement through the Rangers: "My family and I have happily decided to forego any current outside opportunities and remain part of the Texas Rangers family. We are extremely appreciative of all the opportunities that Jon Daniels, Nolan Ryan and ownership have provided to us. Winning a championship and bringint it home to the Metroplex remains my singular focus."
Considered one of the brightest young executives in the game, Levine, 40, has been one of Daniels' top assistants in Texas for the past six seasons. Before that, he worked six more seasons in the Colorado Rockies' front office, including serving as the senior director of baseball operations in 2005.
Earlier in the off-season, Levine was a subject of interest to the Los Angeles Angels before they filled their GM vacancy with Jerry DiPoto, who had been in Arizona's front office. Levine did not interview with the Angels. This opportunity with Houston would have been his first GM interview.
The Astros also have received permission from Tampa Bay to interview Rays GM Andrew Friedman. Most in the industry think it would be a huge surprise if Friedman leaves the Rays, despite the fact that he's a Houston native.
Posted on: October 4, 2011 6:04 pm
Here's the thing about the Texas Rangers as the champagne sprayed Tuesday in Tampa Bay: Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli, the Rangers early stars this October, were elsewhere when Texas made its first foray to a World Series last October.
And as the Rangers move on and prepare to meet either the Detroit Tigers or the New York Yankees in the AL Championship Series, those two are just the latest examples of Texas' power both on the field and off.
Lots of people assumed the Rangers were done last winter when they couldn't retain Cliff Lee. But general manager Jon Daniels and his staff were creative enough to fill in the cracks of a very good core and the Rangers so far haven't missed a beat.
I don't know whether C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and the rest will provide enough pitching to slip past the Yankees or the Tigers and push the Rangers to their second consecutive World Series.
But I do know that under club president Nolan Ryan, Daniels and beyond, the Rangers never for a moment spent one time feeling sorry for themselves losing to San Francisco last fall. They never for a moment wasted time looking in the rear view mirror.
"The reality is, there are a lot of teams that have gotten there once," Daniels told me in March as the Rangers limbered up in Arizona. "That doesn't take anything away from it, but that's not our goal.
"First of all, we want to win it. And second of all, we don't want to be a one-hit wonder. And we need to prove that."
As the Rangers climb the charts again in 2011, they look far more long-term than one-hit wonder.
Posted on: August 22, 2011 1:48 pm
All this talk about Dan Uggla, Andre Ethier and hitting streaks this season, the Rangers have had quite the hit streak of their own lately, you know:
Nearly two weeks ago, Aug. 11 to be exact, snapped a streak of 40 consecutive days of 100-degree temperatures in Dallas. A record? Close: It just missed the 1980 Dallas-area record of 42 consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures.
That the Rangers played on, unaffected, and continued to thrive is yet another testament to the current group of strong-willed players constructed by club president Nolan Ryan, general manager Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington: When was the last time you heard talk that the Rangers won't make it to October because they'll wilt in the heat?
Used to be an annual topic of conversation.
Yet this summer, the hottest on record in Dallas since Pat Corrales' Rangers went 76-85 and finished fourth in the AL West in '80, so far hasn't even come close to melting Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Co.
As the Red Sox arrive for a three-game series starting with an excellent pitching match-up Monday -- new Boston acquisition Erik Bedard vs. C.J. Wilson -- the first-place Rangers have produced their third-best record ever after 128 games (73-55).
"We monitor it," manager Ron Washington says of the heat. "We go out in it, we don't go out in it, we've still gotta play in it.
"You work in it less. We'll have weeks where we will have worked out in the heat for three days, and on four days we did not. But you've gotta get your work in to get used to it."
During the 40-day streak of temps of 100 or higher, the Rangers played 22 home games. They went 16-6.
"It's our home-field advantage," pitching coach Mike Maddux says. "We take our pitchers out in the heat of day. That's when we do our running, and throw in the bullpen.
"We see it as a challenge: 'I'm going to out-last the other guy.'"
The absence of third baseman Adrian Beltre, out since July 22 with a strained left hamstring, has hobbled the Rangers more than the heat has suffocated them.
And it remains scorching: When the 40-day streak of 100 ended on Aug. 11, it wasn't exactly with a cooling trend. The temperature reached 98 that day.
More of the same is awaiting the Red Sox and Rangers this week: Highs of 104 are predicted for Monday and Tuesday, 102 Wednesday and back up to 104 Thursday.
The Angels follow Boston in on Friday for another AL West showdown. Again, the high is predicted to be 104 on Friday.
"There are nights when we're dragging," Washington says. "But really, who wouldn't drag in that stuff?"
Likes: Absolutely fantastic job by the Padres on Sunday in the ceremony retiring legendary closer Trevor Hoffman's No. 51. One of the best I've ever seen. They presented him with a 1958 Cadillac convertible, based on the stories Hoffman has told regarding how his late father, Ed, loved to drive the family around in a convertible. They brought plenty of ex-teammates and coaches back. And in the best move of the day, the Padres tracked down an old video of Ed Hoffman singing the national anthem at Fenway Park on opening day in 1981 when Trevor's brother, Glenn, played for the Red Sox. Watching Trevor, his wife Tracy and his mother Nikki watch that video -- and brothers Greg and Glenn -- if your eyes weren't moist, then you weren't human. ... Reading the book ESPN: Those Guys Have All the Fun. Some entertaining stories, and it's written at a fast-moving clip (oral-history style). But it's a guilty read, too: I can't help but think, don't I have more important things to read? ... If you haven't seen it yet, make sure to Netflix (or rent or whatever) Win Win on DVD. It's terrific. Paul Giamatti as a small-town New Jersey lawyer and wrestling coach who is struggling in both areas. ... College football in less than two weeks.
Dislikes: Where, oh where, are the exciting playoff races?
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"In between the stops at the Cracker Barrel
"And 40 movies with Will Ferrell
"I need some way to occupy my time
"So I'm writing you a road song
"I sure hope you don't mind"
-- Fountains of Wayne, A Road Song
Posted on: October 23, 2010 5:09 pm
PHILADELPHIA -- Big, bold move from Phillies manager Charlie Manuel heading for Game 6 tonight: Jimmy Rollins will return to the top of the Philadelphia lineup for the first time since Game 1 of the Division Series against Cincinnati.
The Phillies traditionally are at their best with a strong Rollins batting first. But this has not been a typical season for Rollins, whose various leg ailments have sabotaged him to the point where 2010 has been as bad a year statistically as the 2007 NL MVP has had.
Two calf strains sent him to the disabled list on two different occasions. Later in the season, he was bothered by both a strained hamstring and a strained quadriceps.
Rollins is hitting just .200 with a .272 on-base percentage in eight games this postseason. But when he attempted to steal second in Game 4, the Phillies took notice. Even though he was thrown out, Manuel and general manager Ruben Amaro took that as a sign that Rollins was regaining confidence in his legs.
When Rollins stole second and third in Game 5, the shortstop confirmed the initial feeling.
"The last couple of games I've seen him play, he's got more legs underneath him," Manuel said. "His foundation at the plate has been better. The other day, when he showed me he could run ... I've always looked at him as our lead-off hitter, and he's the guy. He's very knowledgeable about how to run the bases and steal."
Shane Victorino, who has batted first in each of the first five games of the NLCS for the Phillies, moves down to sixth, the spot Rollins had been holding.
"It's not that Victorino can't do it," Manuel said. "But this guy [Rollins], he's a top-notch base-stealer and base-runner."
Among the things Manuel likes about Rollins, the skipper said, "He's kind of got a little hot dog to him, and he's got a little, what do you call it, charisma. And he gets over there and starts telling the fans to yell and all this stuff.
"And the more he talks, the more I think he's going to put into performing, if that makes sense."
Yes, it's going to be an interesting night in Philadelphia tonight.
Likes: The scene in Texas as the Rangers won the AL pennant on Friday night. A lot of good people are running that organization, and a hearty congratulations to all of them. Look forward to covering the Rangers' first-ever World Series. ... Nolan Ryan's reaction when the Rangers won. ... The dozen or so folks who immediately said, "Yep, uh-huh, Tom Hicks said the Rangers would win a pennant with Alex Rodriguez on the field." ...Cannot begin to describe the gorgeous fall weather in Philadelphia. It was 60 degrees, sunny and warm when I went for a late-morning run, again down Ben Franklin Parkway, around the Philadelphia Art Museum and then along the river on Kelly Dr. What a vibrant city Philadelphia is. The pedestrian traffic, runners, bikers, walkers, sightseers ... a kaleidoscope of people, colors and activity. And a nice yellow tint to the fall leaves. ... The filet mignon at The Capital Grille (and the Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake). ... Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central finishing their high school football season with a 58-0 pasting of Windsor (Canada) Assumption. On to the playoffs. Go Falcons.
Dislikes: Now, I don't mean to complain. And I say this at the risk of knowing I may sound like a spoiled child. But you get so accustomed to high-definition television these days. And at my hotel in Philadelphia, not only is there no hi-def, but there aren't even flat-screen televisions in the room. And the old-school televisions that are in the room, well, they're small. Smallest I've watched since, like, college. Now none of this would matter. But it's Saturday, college football is on the tube, and I had a couple hours in the afternoon before heading to the ballpark for this 8 p.m. start.
Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Now Texas has gotten a bad reputation
-- Ray Wylie Hubbard, Screw You, We're from Texas
Posted on: January 13, 2010 5:57 pm
Dennis Gilbert, man of many hats, was on the move again one morning earlier this week even if the route wasn't taking him exactly where he hoped to go.
A licensed magician, nevertheless, he still couldn't pull owning the Texas Rangers out of one of those hats.
Gilbert -- special advisor to White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, life insurance guru, philanthropist, former agent, former professional ballplayer and part-time Houdini -- was zipping through Los Angeles en route to an early morning meeting. Then he was set to spend the afternoon in another meeting planning Saturday's Seventh Annual Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation awards dinner and charity auction.
The dinner has become a must-stop on baseball's off-season circuit, a great cause that raises money for old scouts who are down on their luck, a huge event that last year attracted more than 1,000 people.
Among those scheduled to attend Saturday's In the Spirit of the Game at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles are Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson, Bob Feller and Robin Roberts, manager Tony LaRussa, the Manny Mota family and Commissioner Bud Selig.
This is Gilbert's baby, and he throws himself into it with the gusto of a vintage Feller fastball.
It's just that, well ... by the time they open the auction of sports and entertainment memorabilia (a few years ago, one of Marilyn Monroe's dresses was up, by the way), Gilbert had also hoped to be standing in the on-deck circle for ownership of the Rangers.
But alas, while his group made the cut down to the final two, it was the other group -- led by Pittsburgh sports attorney Chuck Greenberg -- that was granted an exclusive window to negotiate with Rangers owner Tom Hicks. That window expires Thursday, incidentally.
So for Gilbert, a process that started last March is close to ending in utter disappointment and exhaustion. He likens it to a guy in high school whose girlfriend cuts bait.
"The hardest part was that it started out with 11 groups and we got down to the final two," Gilbert says. "But I don't regret a second of it."
From that perspective, though, it's been a difficult year. The whisper campaign against him turned ugly -- that he would fire Texas legend and Rangers president Nolan Ryan (not true), among other things -- and while Gilbert refuses to delve into it, it's clear he was hurt.
Once Ryan aligned himself with Greenberg's group, essentially it was game over.
"I even got a letter from the mayor of Fort Worth telling me how important Nolan Ryan is to Texas baseball and to the community," says Gilbert, who, after a lifetime in the game as a player, agent and front-office man and who once represented such luminaries as Hall of Famer George Brett, Barry Bonds, Bret Saberhagen and Danny Tartabull, maybe had a pretty good idea of that already. "I'd describe that letter as over the top.
"I've been in baseball since the '60s. I certainly know Nolan Ryan and what he means. But, whatever."
Gilbert is passionate, clearly loves the game and could be great fun as an owner. It's telling how he's successfully transitioned from a flamboyant agent into an executive who is widely respected in the industry.
"I must have had a couple hundred e-mails from scouts and baseball executives wishing me well," he says of his quest to purchase the Rangers. "The journey really opened my eyes.
"It's interesting how the baseball community seemed to give me an awful lot of support."
A former Red Sox and Mets farmhand -- he earned his nickname "Go Go" because of his hustle on the diamond -- Gilbert went on to build a highly successful life insurance business. From there, he developed into a superagent in a business he started with the late Tony Conigliaro.
He retired from that gig in '99 and joined the White Sox as special advisor to Reinsdorf the following year. The two men are very close, and Reinsdorf was especially helpful during Gilbert's run at the Rangers.
"He was outstanding," Gilbert says. "I'm supposed to be his advisor, and he was mine."
Most likely, that won't be the last of Reinsdorf's advising. Though Gilbert is licking his wounds now after coming so close to the Rangers, he isn't discounting another run at owning a ballclub.
"I guess it's like going to the Super Bowl and losing maybe by a touchdown, or you miss a field goal with a few seconds to go in the game," Gilbert says. "So, sure, I feel like I'll regroup and take a look at what's out there."
For now, this minute, what's out there is a gala of a fundraiser that combines the best parts of Gilbert: Fun, passion, showmanship and, most importantly, a reverence for the game and, especially, for the people who help make it what it is.
"There have been quite a few people who have come up to me at the event saying things like, 'Thank you, you saved our house,'" Gilbert says. "Keeping people's health insurance has been very important.
"One fellow had been in hospice for four or five months, and when he passed away we took care of the expenses and gave the rest of the money to his widow to give her a new start."
CNN's Larry King is a co-host of the event and comedian Joe Piscopo will be the master of ceremonies. For tickets, call 310-996-1188.
Posted on: March 12, 2008 10:45 pm
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- So what, exactly, was Sidney Ponson doing throwing two scoreless innings deep in Texas' 5-4 Cactus League victory over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday and behaving as, dare we say it, a real, live major league pitcher?
First, let's get the automatic chuckle out of the way with Sir Sidney (hey, he was knighted in his native Aruba).
"You look like you're in pretty good shape," I told the notoriously hefty Ponson -- in all seriousness -- when I saw him before Wednesday's game.
His replay was classic: "I thought so, too, until I weighed in today. That was a little disappointing."
Last week, Ponson said, he was at 250 pounds and happy.
Upon stepping on the scale here Wednesday morning, he said he was "255, 256."
"I don't know why. Altitude?" he joked. "I'm just worried about throwing today, getting people out."
He did that, too. Faced the minimum six batters over two innings, walking one and fanning another.
He's not exactly a lock to make this team -- he just signed a few days ago, and arrived here on Sunday -- but he's certainly in the right place. Last time Texas had any pitching, they were defending The Alamo down in San Antonio. Or something like that.
He went home to Florida last May, took a couple of months off and then started working out again. He pitched a bit in the Dominican winter league, making three starts.
Though it seems as if he's been around forever, he's just 31. "I'm still pretty young," he says. "I'm a young veteran."
If this latest comeback road takes him back to Triple-A for awhile, he says, "I'm fine with that. I just want to get back to the big leagues."
Rangers starters last season combined to pitch the fewest innings of any rotation in the majors. There is a definite need here. And, conversely, if Sir Sidney can't hang on here -- whatever his weight -- then, well, maybe it will be time to remove the "Sir" from his title.
Likes: Nice complex in Surprise that the Rangers and Royals share, but how anybody ever thought to build anything out there in that part of the desert, I'd love to hear the explanation. ... I could do without his tattoos, but Josh Hamilton's is the kind of story you can't help rooting for. ... Tampa Bay at Yankees April 4-5-6-7, the first weekend of the regular season. Boxing gloves, anyone? ... Gov. Eliot Spitzer jokes. ... Make that former Governor. ... New Texas president Nolan Ryan's reply when general manager Jon Daniels asked how he dealt with the heat when he pitched for the Rangers: Ryan told Daniels that, on any given night, his goal was to last longer in the game than the opposing starting pitcher. ... This dry bit of humor from Bob Dylan on XM's Theme Time Radio Hour on Wednesday's program, with birds as the theme: "The average wingspan of a duck is 27 inches. Though if you own one and its wingspan is a little less, don't be concerned." ... Dairy Queen drive-thrus.
Dislikes: Cell phone batteries that don't last as long as they should.
Sunblock day? Yep. Perfect. Not too hot, but a warm upper-70s with a bright sun.
Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:
"My shadow's the only one that walks beside me
-- Green Day, Boulevard of Broken Dreams