In the Cheap Seats

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

June 20, 2007 - It's a good thing Tom Hicks didn't own the Titanic. He would have given the captain a raise after hitting the iceberg.

That's the equivalent of what he did Tuesday when King Midas added another year on the contract of Rangers general manager Jon Daniels. Now, Daniels (aka Boy Blunder) will be skipper of the Texas Titanic until 2009.

King Midas said it was important to show stability in the organization. Didn't the Rangers have stability with former GM John Hart, who was GM for four fruitless years and is still on the team's payroll as "consultant?" Where did that get them?

Headed toward the iceberg, that's where. Now, Daniels has rammed it head-on. The Rangers are head-and-shoulders below every other team in the league.

The only good news for the franchise is that between King Midas, Boy Blunder, Hart and manager Ron Washed-Up, the franchise has sunk to the bottom, so now there has to be a rebuilding process. That should have been done years ago.

But, are these the people to retool an organization? Nothing I've seen makes me think so.

All you need to know about Hicks' philosophy is that he believes Daniels can make the team "a consistent contender." Since when is contending the prime objective? Shouldn't the goal be to win a championship?

But, it costs money to assemble enough talent to win a championship, so Hicks is automatically out of that equation.

Boy Blunder has been hoodwinked in virtually every trade he's tried, has signed free agents that have provided little help, and oversees a minor league system that is rated very low by Baseball America magazine.

If veterans Mark Teixeira, Kenny Lofton, Hank Blalock, Greg Gagne, Vicente Padilla, Sammy Sosa and others are traded - which they should be - then who is ready to play center field, right field, first base, DH and third? Who fills spots in the rotation?

There are few options in the Rangers' minor leagues. Jason Botts perhaps or Nate Gold and likely Eric Hurley. You have to hope all of those guys catch on because there isn't much else there unless you like Nelson Cruz. If you do, you're a minority of one.

The bare minor league system is the legacy of Hart and Daniels. Many people won't put that onus on Daniels, but he isn't a new guy - he's nearing the end of his second year as GM - and most of the trades he foolishly entered into were supposed to restock the minor leagues. Hasn't happened.

Even die-hard Ranger fans are already blowing off the 2008 season - and 2007 isn't even halfway over. They might as well set their calendars for 2012, because a five-year turnaround is probably as quick as this organization can recover.

That is, unless major changes are in order. King Midas, though, seems set to go with Boy Blunder and Ron Washed-Up.

Iceberg dead ahead.

The people of the Paris ISD did something that Sulphur Springs voters would not - approve a substantial bond issue for a new school and athletic complex.

Paris voters last month approved a $53.8 million bond issue that includes construction of a new high school and football stadium/athletic complex (valued at $6 million) as well as renovations at all the existing campuses.

By comparison, SSISD voters turned down a bond issue that was $20 million less.

Paris will join North Lamar, Texas High, Mount Pleasant and Greenville as Class 4A schools who have drastically improved their athletic facilities in the last few years.

SSISD trustees did approve a much-needed and much-appreciated new track last month, and SSISD voters voted in favor of a smaller bond issue last year that included a new band hall, science wing and asbestos abatement at the high school and new wings at the ECLC. Hopefully, SSISD voters will see the additions as the first steps in what must be a much larger district-wide facilities improvement plan.

With the high school at 30 years old, Bowie Elementary nearing 40 and the middle school around 45 years old, it has to sooner rather than later.

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