In the Cheap Seats
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

June 30, 2005 - Here's hoping Kenny Rogers gets that contract extension he's wanting from the Texas Rangers.

He's going to need the money once all the civil suits are done.

Rogers likes the millions ($3 million this year) he makes by being a major league pitcher, but he doesn't like the media. The problem is - without the TV cameras, there is no $3 million.

Make no mistake, the only reason any professional athlete makes millions is because of the billions paid by television for broadcasting rights. The only way Rogers can avoid the cameras is to quit playing baseball - and making millions of dollars.

It seems like the Rangers and Cowboys have fallen into the same predicament - thinking that magic happens twice by happenstance.

The Cowboys exceeded everyone's expectations in 2003 by going 10-6 and making the playoffs. Owner Jerry Jones and head coach Bill Parcells then did very little in filling obvious holes in the 2004 offseason.

The result was a frustrating, under-achieving team last season in which the holes (i.e., quarterback, secondary, defensive end, offensive line) became even more noticeable.

The Rangers took the same tactic after surprising everyone with an 89-win season last summer.

Instead of shoring up the starting pitching, finding a proven designated hitter, signing a power-hitting outfielder and getting bullpen help, owner Tom Hicks and GM John Hart signed a few also-rans and never-will-be's and thought things would take care of themselves.

It doesn't work that way, which is obvious to those of use who aren't in the business.

With Mark Cuban as owner, the Mavericks have never taken the "we're OK the way we are" approach.

The team has just about turned itself over completely in the last three years. If Michael Finley is released to save luxury tax expense and salary cap room, and Shawn Bradley retires to save further embarrassment, then Dirk Nowitzki will be the only remaining player from the Mavericks' run to the Western Conference Finals in 2003.

If Finley is released, he'll be a perfect fit to come off the bench for the Phoenix Suns, who play the run-and-shoot-threes style that fits Finley so well. They won't ask him to play defense, rebound or handle the ball, just run and spot up, which is what he does best.

The opinion around the country is that the Rangers are a top-notch offensive ball club, which is partly because they lead the league in home runs and are fourth in runs scored.

But, look at what they don't do well - move runners around the bases.

They Rangers are last among the 30 MLB teams in sacrifice bunts with two. That's right, two. And that's with a manager who used to be in the National League.

For a team that hits the long ball so well, it seems like the Rangers should be at the top of the list for sacrifice flies. But, they are last in that category also with just 11.

How about bases on balls? 21st. On-base percentage? 18th. Strikeouts? Fourth.

If the Rangers are to make a push for a playoff berth over the second half of the season, they will have to do more than hit home runs.

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