Friday, April 25, 2008

There were three notable deaths in the entertainment industry this week.

The first of the three was singer/songwriter Paul Davis, what at 60-years-old, died of a heart attack in his hometown of Meridian, Mississippi. Davis was a struggling artist in the 1970's when he hit paydirt with his single, "I Go Crazy," which at the time held the record for most consecutive weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

After "I go Crazy", and it's follow-up single, "Sweet Life", Davis returned to the charts in 1980 with the Christian-themed, "Do Right," featuring a terrific a Capella arrangement. The following year, he charted again with two singles off of his album Cool Night, which featured the title track and his last major radio hit, "'65 Love Affair." After that, Davis retired to anonymity.

The second death this week was of soul singer Al Wilson. Ironically, Wilson was also from Meridian, but had less chart success than Davis.

Mostly known for his only number one hit, "Show and Tell" in 1974, Wilson was a major player in the soul circuit through most of the 1970's.

Both artists, although not heard from for years, will be missed.

The third death is not of an artist, but of a team. I, of course, refer to the Texas Rangers.

Yeah, I know they die early most every year, but this year is quite different. You see, I have been a big fan of the Rangers since their inaugural year of 1972 and never have I seen a team as inept for so, so long. You can say want you want about the Cubs or the Red Sox, but at least they went to a World Series. In fact, aside from Tampa Bay Rays - who have only been the league for 10 years, the Texas Rangers are the only team to have never won a playoff series.

Their moment of true glory came in 1996, when through some force of luck, they took a 1-0 series lead on the New York Yankees in the playoffs. It was the only playoff game the team has ever one. The curse/bad luck of the team is legendary. Two years earlier, the Rangers actually stood atop the division when the season ended for the first time in history - only to have the playoffs cancelled due to the strike. But even during that magical year, they could only muster a 52-62 record.

Here is a breakdown of the "bad luck" this team has dealt with:

1973 - after losing 100 games the year before, Texas fires manger Ted Williams and turns the team over to Whitey Herzog. Herzog loses 105 games and gets fired before the season ends. He then goes to Kansas City and becomes a wildly successful manager there.

1974 - Upon hiring Billy Martin to manage, Texas needs to make up 5 games on Oakland to win the division. With a month to go, they have 2 of the winningest pitchers in the league in Fergie Jenkins (21-10 at the time) and Jim Bibby (19-14). Over the last four weeks, Bibby losses all of his games and finishes 19-19. The Rangers lose the division by 5 games. Martin is fired the next season and Texas becomes the only team he didn't lead to a World Series.

Also in 1974, to boost attendance, the Rangers sign 18-year-old David Clyde and immediately promote him to the big leagues where he wins his first game in front of the team's first sellout. Clyde, a "can't miss" high school prospect goes on to lose a lot of games and is out of baseball in two years.

1977 - While starting off the season poorly, Texas fire manager Frank Luccesi and replace him with former big leaguer Eddie Stanky. Stanky promptly quits the very next day, saying he was homesick. Connie Ryan replaced Stanky for 6 games before they settled on Billy Hunter, who would lead Texas to a 60-33 record over the last 93 games, just missing the playoffs.

1978 - Hunter is fired. Before the start of a game against the Detroit Tigers on April 12, 1978, starting pitcher Roger Moret was spotted in the Ranger locker room in a catatonic state, with his arm extended holding a shower slipper. He was immediately taken to a psychiatric facility.

1981 - With a players strike looming, the Rangers lose to Oakland and fall one-half game behind the A's. Unfortunately, the strike began the next day. When play resumed after the strike, the league decided the winners from each half of the season would meet in the playoffs. The Rangers lost the second half of the season to Kansas City (and Whitey Herzog) and missed the playoffs altogether, although the team had the best combined record in the American League.

1984 - To punctuate another brutal year, California Angels starter Mike Witt throws a perfect game against Texas on the season's last day. The Rangers finish 69-92. Dead last, again.

1985 - Because they can't find an easier way to suck, the Rangers send Ron Darling and Walt Terrell to the New York Mets for Lee Mazzilli, who apparently lost his legs a couple of years prior. Darling goes on to be a main reason the '86 Mets win the World Series.

1986 - Pete Incaviglia Hits 30 home runs, which come to one home run for every 6 strikeouts - a new league record in futility.

1989 - The Rangers continue their decent into future decline by trading Sammy Sosa and Wilson Alverez to the Chicago White Sox for 93-year-old Harold Baines and a bag of magic beans. Baines lasts less than a full season with the club. Sosa goes on to hit 1,874 home runs.

1993 - Bobby Valentine sets a club record by managing his 7th straight non-playoff qualifying Texas Rangers.

Also in 1993, Jose Canseco let's a ball bounce off of his head,and then blows out his arm pitching the final inning of and early season game. Losing his bat in the middle of the order destroys any change at reaching the playoffs.

2000 - After reaching the playoffs 3 times in 4 years, the Rangers inexplicably change their colors back to Blue (they had been red since they began winning).

2001 - Owner Tom Hicks gets pwned by Scott Boros and signs Alex Rodriguez to a 10-year, $250,000,000 contract. In layman's terms, that means Rodriguez will receive $156,250 every time he plays a game. Or in other words, $219,000 every time he has a bowel movement - guaranteed.

2004 - In a fit of sheer brilliance, Hicks decided that although Alex Rodriguez has broken every team record during his three years with the club, it makes more sense to send him to the rival New York Yankees - although he will still be paid by Texas.

2005 - Kenny Rogers beats up a cameraman. It is the first sign of any fight in the teams history.

2006 - In two years of wheeling and dealing, manager Buck Showalter trades pitcher Chris Young and Adrian Gonzalez to the Padres for Okinora Otsuka and Adam Eaton. Young and Gonzalez lead a resurgent San Diego baseball franchise, while Otsuka is out of baseball and Eaton is sucking for another team.

2007 - Because you can never have too few good pitchers, the Rangers send John Danks to the Chicago White Sox for Brandon McCarthey. Danks is currently the ace of the Sox staff while McCarthey leads the team in games lost due to injuries.

2008 - In another shrewd move only the Rangers can make, Texas releases Armando Galarraga ad trades Ednison Volquez (the second of the famed DVD boys - Danks, Volquez and Diamond. They keep Diamond because he is keeping the 60-day disabled list warm). Both Galarraga and Volquez (along with John Danks) lead their respective teams in ERA. Texas, on the other hand, ranks dead last at 5.54.

So now, my friends, with a 7-16 record, the worst in the American League, I pronounce the 2008 Texas Rangers. While the minor league teams affiliated with the Rangers look strong, it of course, is only a matter of time before the best prospects there as well will be sold off for that magical bag of beans.

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