In the Cheap Seats: No Strangers here - this team looks all too familiar

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

April 5, 2007 - When the Dallas Mavericks' season started, they lost their first four games.

The Texas Rangers appear to be heading down the same path after their first three games. But that's where the similarities end.

The Mavericks turned around their awful start by racing to the best record in the league. The Rangers don't have that same internal make-up.

While Mavericks coach Avery Johnson stews after each loss - and sometimes after wins - Rangers new manager Ron Washington said he was "very happy" after being swept by the Angels.

The Mavericks take each loss like a direct hit to their guts. The Rangers? Well, they were jamming to music and not worryin' about nothin' after their sloppy performance on the West Coast that brought them home with an 0-3 record.

Put on the red clown nose, get out the dancing shoes and get ready for a pie in the face, because it's all good times and fun and games for the Rangers. In years past, the team would be referred to as the Strangers after stinking it up, but these aren't strangers. What we're seeing is all too familiar.

Five errors in three games, a .090 batting average over the last three innings, a failure to drive in runs, ineptitude against division opponents, and No. 1 and 2 starters that can't make it past the fifth inning - yes, it is very familiar.

The Rangers can pitch except when they have to, can hit except when they need to, and can field except when it's critical that they do so.

The metroplex media drank the Rangers' Koolaid before the season, proclaiming them as shoo-ins for the playoffs because of Washington's optimistic attitude. Dare we expect a World Series?

Please. The only way the Rangers will see the World Series is if they buy tickets.

Washington may end up being a great manager, but when he was the third base coach for the Athletics, Oakland passed him over four times in hiring a new manager. Maybe Oakland was wrong, and maybe baby-face Rangers GM Jon Daniels is right - it would be the first time, but there is a first time for everything.

Daniels hasn't really hit on a great deal yet. How's that Brad Wilkerson for Alfonso Soriano trade working out? Wouldn't it be nice to have Chris Young back in this rotation? Isn't two-time cheater Sammy Sosa a jewel?

The Rangers would be better off if they put Sosa on the Midway and have a barker call out, "See Sosa use steroids. See Sosa use a corked bat. See Sosa strike out with the bases loaded."

There's an old saying that if you're sitting at the poker table and you don't know who the sucker is, then it's you. Daniels is at the poker table with other GMs and they keep raising the ante and taking his chips.

Ranger owner Tom Hicks hired Daniels because he was young and cheap - mostly cheap. Hey, when you're a miserly billionaire, you've got to save money any way you can. Hicks still has failure John Hart on the payroll along with Alex Rodriguez - who Hicks is paying to play for another team - so, he's looking to cut corners.

Raise ticket prices, increase parking fees, gouge fans at the concession stand and play bad baseball - it's the Rangers' way.

So is losing.

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