This is kind of long, but worth reading. I decided to send an e-mail to Chuck Greenberg last night after I had a few beers in me. Here's what I wrote him:
I don't need legal advice, I come to you as a fan of the team that you are the reported front-runner to purchase: the Texas Rangers. From what I have read of your background, compiled with the fact that you want to keep Nolan Ryan heavily involved, I can honestly say I am pulling for you to be the next owner of my team. There are some things you need to understand though, from a fan's standpoint, about what you are potentially getting yourself into.
I have lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex my entire life, and am very familiar with all of the sports teams and the general fan base here. Simply put, they are very supportive of winning teams. This a franchise that has one playoff win in its history, has never been anywhere close to an American League pennant in 37 years and has finished 3rd and 4th for the last 10 years. They drew about 28,000 per game this season. To do any better, there is going to have to be some sort of pennant race down to the wire, a division title, an American League Championship Series played in their ballpark, a World Series appearance, and God forbid a championship. Win it all and you'll have fan support for life. Just win a playoff series and get into the ALCS and you will see a vast change. They can draw 3 million fans a year, they can average 35,000+ a game, but they have to win. The current ownership is mad because they have generally had trouble getting people to come out to games and spend their hard-earned money on the team. The fans should not be blamed for what is wrong with this team, it is its history; its lack of championship hope.
Winning is what sells the tickets. That was proven this year, winning is why they had the biggest increase in attendance and television ratings of any team in MLB.
I really don’t see what’s so hard to understand about it. Any potential owner needs to realize this too, especially in this particular market. Why do some clubs command higher price tags when they are sold? Because they have a history of being playoff contenders, and that makes them more profitable. Even the Cubs, who haven’t won a World Series in over 100 years sold for what, $845 million? They are at least a playoff threat though, and they have a history behind them. What do the Rangers have? Nothing, a history of being bottom-feeders. In order to get more people out to the park, and turn this thing into the profit machine that it could be, the new owner is going to have to realize that if he plans on doing things the way Hicks has done then he’s not going to get any better results. There is no salary cap in baseball. The Rangers have won ONE playoff game EVER. Whoever comes in needs to be prepared to invest money into the club instead of just paying the $525 million dollar price tag or whatever it’s going to be, rolling with a $50 million dollar payroll and hoping for the best. Spend like you’re buying the Cubs, if you have that kind of capital available. Put what’s left over after the sale is finalized into free-agents, scouting, drafting, international scouting/free-agents, marketing, ticket specials, promotions (your next door neighbors are the Cowboys!!), ballpark upgrades, better quality concessions/more choices, television/radio broadcasting, etc… You know, come in and make an impression that you’re serious and want to win and want to get fans excited about the team and coming out to the ballpark, and then go out there and do it. People will come out to the ballpark and spend money on the team, I guarantee it.
It’s not like we play in Kansas City or something, this is like the 4th largest media market in the country, take advantage of it. It’s pretty much already set up to go as far as the core of players goes, and after the decent amount of success this season there will probably be a jump in attendance next season anyway. Jon Daniels and everyone in the scouting department have done an excellent job at finding players at a young age and building them from within the organization, especially well considering the limited payroll he is having to work with. We have one of the most highly touted farm systems in all of baseball, if not the most, so whatever they are doing in that aspect of this team does not need to change. All it needs is somebody who isn’t afraid to dump some money into it to make some necessary upgrades. People in DFW will support a winner, but they will turn their backs on a perennial loser. That’s just the way it is around here. If a new owner doesn’t understand this, and either (a) doesn’t have the kind of capital necessary to put into a team that is going to be a perennial contender, or (b) isn’t willing to, then they are probably going to fail as an owner. Not saying we need to spend like the Yankees, but the next owner doesn’t need to be so gun shy about writing checks, especially if the opportunity is there to improve the team. Ask Tom Hicks.
I hope you will take some of this into consideration, if indeed you do submit the winning bid. You could potentially be sitting on a gold mine, if you do it right. The Dallas Cowboys, your potential next-door neighbor, haven't won a playoff game since 1996 but they have 5 trophies in their trophy case. They are the most valuable sports franchise in America. The fan base is here, I promise you, and they are aching for a winner. Bring this town a winner and I guarantee you that you won't regret it. Thanks for reading, and good luck.
And here's what he wrote me back:
Thank you for your exceptionally thoughtful and well written email. First off, please call me Chuck. I am about as regular a guy as you would want to grab a beer with, so let's go on a first name basis. Second, given the sensitive nature of the sale process, I am sure you can appreciate that I need to be very careful, as I certainly do not want to appear to be presumptuous by speaking prematurely. Our group is only one of a number of bidders; we have the utmost respect for the other bidders and certainly do not mean to suggest we are more worthy of owning the team. We also respect that any decision regarding a sale rests solely with Mr. Hicks. However, I can assure you that the views of you and all Rangers fans are of the utmost importance to me. One of the hallmarks of each of the three minor league franchises I have owned is an uncommon connection and line of communication between myself, our front office and our fans. I also want you to know that I have spent quite a bit of time in the Metroplex over the spring and summer, speaking anonymously with fans, cab drivers, waiters and many others to get a feel for what is on folks' minds. I have also been to the ballpark more than a dozen times to try to get a feel for how to improve the fan experience in every way possible. I fully appreciate your feelings about supporting a winner. Simply put, if we are fortunate enough to be selected as the winning bidder, we would be committed to delivering for you and all Rangers fans a consistent winner with whom you will feel safe investing your emotions and your hearts. We would have many goals for the organization...the fan experience, a bevy of new community programs and many other initiatives for which my other teams are known, but it all starts with a championship quality team on the field. Fortunately, as you correctly identify, Jon Daniels and Nolan have done a remarkable job accumulating talent, so the pipeline is deep and promising. We would do everything we can to add the pieces necessary to continue moving forward to delivering the championship you have been waiting for all these years. And I certainly agree with your assessment of the market and the community. The whole DFW area is a powerhouse, and is one of the most attractive forces that drew my attention to pursuing the Rangers. Well, I guess that's all for now. As I said, I have to be careful not to get ahead of myself at this stage, but you have my commitment that I welcome your thoughts and ideas and invite you to keep it coming. Thanks again for taking the time and for your good wishes....chuck
Seems like a pretty cool guy. I wrote him back and told him to check out LSB to get a really good feel for the opinions of Rangers fans, and he said he would.