In the Cheap Seats

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

July 13, 2007 - Congrats to Kevin McCarty and the grounds crew at Coleman Park. They did what many thought was near impossible - getting the fields ready to play every day during the Dixie State Softball Tournaments over the last week.

They put in a lot of sweat and manhours to allow the tournaments to run as smoothly as they did.

KIND WORDS - I caught wind that the sister of Kevin Millwood lives in town and hasn't been happy with some of my criticism of the Ranger pitcher. In a related story, several people have asked when I'm going to write something good about the Rangers, and I always reply, "When they give me a reason."

So, here goes.

The Rangers remain in last place in the AL West, but in the last month they have given us reason to be optimistic. The major part of that surge has been because of Millwood, Brandon McCarthy, Kam Loe and the other pitchers.

What Ranger fans have known for 35 years - and baseball fans have said for over 100 years - is that it's all about pitching. When the pitching staff is right, good things happen to a team. The current Rangers prove that. This team will thrive as long as the pitching staff carries it.

You can count the great Ranger starting pitchers on one hand - Charlie Hough, Nolan Ryan, Fergie Jenkins ... Kenny Rogers maybe ... Kevin Brown perhaps. That's about it. On the current 40-man roster, Millwood (22 wins) is the only starter to have won more than 20 games in a career for the Rangers.

Millwood has a chance, if he stays with Texas, to approach 80-90 wins with the team, which would put him ahead of Brown and Ryan on the all-time list. If he can accomplish that, it would mean the Rangers would be contenders.

It's all about the pitching, and if the Texas staff holds up for the next month like they have over the last month - when the team has gone 6-0-1 in their last seven series - then we'll have reason to be optimistic into next year.

On a related subject, Tom Hicks' entire family could live in Sulphur Springs and I still couldn't write anything good about an owner who cares more deeply about the team making him money than winning games.

PATCHING THE LEAK - The lawyer who leaked grand jury testimony from Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi has been sentenced to more jail time than the others in the BALCO steroid scandal put together.

None of the players have been penalized, and BALCO founder Vincent Conte and Bonds' personal trainer Greg Anderson (who refused to cooperate with authorities) received only very minor sentences in their roles in the case.

The messenger has been shot. The inmates still run the asylum.

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