Rangers Win Pennant, but ‘A-Rod Doomed Them’ Myth Lives On


No sooner did the World Series end than Alex Rodriguez became the answer to the question “Why did it take the Rangers so long to win the pennant?” On Monday, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times speculated about the possibility of the Yankees obtaining Cliff Lee:

“Lee could enjoy the Yankees, too, with Sabathia, his former teammate, and A.J. Burnett, his fellow Arkansan. He would also be teammates with Alex Rodriguez, who signed a $252 million contract a decade ago that all but ruined the Rangers’ previous owner, Tom Hicks.”

A lot of things ruined former Texas owner Tim Hicks — most notably, his total lack of understanding as to how to put together a major league pitching staff — but the cost of acquiring Alex Rodriguez was not one of them.

Though it has practically been chiseled in stone that A-Rod’s contract doomed the Rangers, there has never been a shred of evidence to support that.

For instance, here’s a story headlined “How Can the Rangers Afford So Much?” which appeared shortly after the Yankees and Rangers made their deal for A-Rod:

“The Texas Rangers can afford to pay Alex Rodriguez as much as $252 million over 10 years thanks to Fox Sports Net, which paid generously for local television rights to the Rangers and Dallas Stars rather than lose them to a sports cable network that the teams’ owner, Tom Hicks, had wanted to start.

“In deals made between October 1999 and March, Fox Sports Net bought the Rangers’ and Stars’ local cable rights for $250 million over 10 years and the teams’ local broadcast rights for $250 million over 15 years.”

This story, written by Richard Sandomir, ran in the December 12, 2000, edition of the New York Times. Doesn’t the New York Times refer to the New York Times when checking facts — like everyone else is supposed to?

Sandomir’s story doesn’t say how much of the $500 million went to the Rangers and how much to the Dallas Stars hockey team, but I think we can safely assume that a much bigger piece of the pie went to the Rangers. Which means that Hicks, despite his later protestations to the contrary, had plenty of cash to invest in pitching.

Actually, Hicks had a great deal of cash to invest in pitching, more than just the money from the TV deal. As Michael K. Ozanian and Kurt Badenhausen wrote in the April 16, 2001 Forbes magazine, “Besides allowing Hicks to bid for A-Rod and other [sic] star players, the TV deals fueled a 16% increase in the value of the Rangers this year to $342 million, placing them sixth overall, up from eighth last year. And Hicks is already using A-Rod to beef up revenues. Individual Rangers games tickets now cost 10% more than they did last year. Compared with a year ago, at least 200,000 more tickets have already been sold for this season. Dallas-based Radio Shack has inked an endorsement deal with A-Rod, as well as a sponsorship pact with the Rangers. Team revenue could hit $150 million this season, 19% higher than in 2000.”

But why, despite all of the proof to the contrary, do we suspect that the myth that “A-Rod Sunk the Rangers” will continue to live on?