In the Cheap Seats

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

May 17, 2007 - In the midst of counting all the money he's bilking Texas Rangers' fans out of, I wonder if Tom Hicks has taken time to look at the American League West standings lately.

He knows where to look - at the cellar, right where the Rangers have been since he's owned them.

King Midas sits on his throne demanding the payment of a first-born child from every Ranger who would dare to step into the Ballp... , Ameri ..., Rangers Stad ... whatever the place is called these days.

A lousy, stinking, pitiful team playing its way into what could become one of the worst seasons in franchise history - which is saying a ton - is what you get when all the owner cares about is green. And we're not talking about grass.

Hicks, who is determined to make his second billion on the backs of Rangers fans, didn't earn money in the business world treating his other companies as he does the Rangers.

Nowhere else would he hire his top two employees without either of them having one shred of experience at their jobs. He did it with the Disastrous Duo - general manager Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington, aka Boy Blunder and Ron Washed-Out.

Hicks hired Daniels because at 25-years-old, the Boy Blunder came cheap. It didn't matter that he did not have an inkling of what it took to be a GM. Then, they both decided to hire Washington, who had never managed a single team in his life - not at any level. Again, Washington came cheap because he was looking for his first managerial job.

What we've found out is that Ron Washed-Out is all-hat, no-cattle. He can talk, but he can't back it up.

Washington came from the A's, who passed him over four times when hiring new managers. That should have told Daniels something, but obviously the Boy Blunder cannot judge talent.

How would you like to have Chris Young and John Danks in this rotation? How about Kevin Mench, Carlos Lee and Gary Matthews Jr. in the outfield? Rod Barajas at catcher? Adrian Gonzalez at DH? Francisco Cordero and Nick Masset in the bullpen? You could have had all of those if Daniels hadn't either traded or not re-signed them.

But, go ahead and get out to the ball park in droves. While you're buying a ticket, remember that you're not only paying Daniels' and Washington's salaries, but those of "consultant" John Hart and New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez as well.

The Rangers are on a collision course with infamy, and the bus is being driven by the Boy Blunder and Ron Washed-Out. Meanwhile, King Midas counts his money.

REPRESENTING WHOM? - I have no idea whether our state senator, Bob Duell, is a Republican or Democrat. I don't care because it doesn't matter. I do know one thing - he does not have the best interests of public schools in mind.

Duell is recorded by the website www.texasgovernment.info for voting for SB 1943 - that's the bill that would allow all private and parochial schools to be included in the University Interscholastic League. We're not just talking athletics, but debate, one-act play, number sense, etc.

Private schools, by their very existence, recruit players. They limit enrollment. They can deny admission. They don't have to educate any child they don't want to.

Those options are entirely closed - as they should be - to public school systems.

Allowing private schools into the UIL to compete against public schools is unfair and indefensible. They have their own leagues to compete in.

I don't know what other bills Duell has voted on or which way he swings in the political wind. But, in all due respect, he got this one wrong.

STERN'S RIGHT? - Get ready to read something you'll likely never hear me say again - David Stern got this one right.

In suspending the Suns' Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw from Game 5 of their playoff series with San Antonio, NBA commissioner Stern did the right thing.

Stoudemire and Diaw came off their bench (22 feet to be exact) at the end of Game 4 when teammate Steve Nash was fouled hard by the Spurs' Robert Horry. While the two Suns didn't get involved in the ensuing rooster match, it doesn't matter.

NBA rules say that if a player leaves the bench area during an altercation, the player will be suspended for a minimum of one game.

I was shocked that Randy Galloway (locally) and Dan Patrick (nationally) were at odds with the commissioner over this. The rule doesn't allow for interpretation, and it shouldn't. You leave the bench, you get suspended. Period.

Patrick even said to the commissioner that because the suspension involved "a star player" like Stoudemire, it should have been ignored. How ridiculous.

Stern did the right thing in applying the rule unilaterally. It's the Suns' own fault for coming off the bench.

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