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February 05, 2010

Cleaning up the past six days

Finally, a slow week this Texas Rangers off-season. That makes, oh, one so far. Not to be selfish here, but I'm hoping for back-to-back quiet weeks until departing for spring training Feb. 16.

Last weekend: Fan Fest, or as one reader overheard it dubbed "Frost Fest," appeared to be a success even though the Rangers charged for admission for the first time. (The Rangers are actually behind the times in that regard. Many teams have long been charging for their version of Fan Fest.) The autograph lines for Josh Hamilton and Michael Young were filled to capacity before they even appeared. And those were some chilly lines on the concourse. Fans spoke of an excitement for Chuck Greenberg, who is weeks away from becoming the managing general partner under the new ownership group that he headed in negotiations with Hicks Sports Group.

Monday: A report surfaced about a meeting set for Tuesday between Hicks Sports Group, some of its 40 lenders holding some of $525 million in debt and the Greenberg group at MLB headquarters. One lender was quoted anonymously, preaching fire and brimstone, that the deal was a "trainwreck" and that the group would be "better off in bankruptcy." That story was met by Rangers Baseball Express, apparently, with a yawn as neither Greenberg or Nolan Ryan were planning to attend the meeting.

In AL West news, the Mariners continued their off-season rampage by signing Ryan Garko, a right-handed-hitting first baseman who the Rangers were considering. With fellow right-handed-hitting free agent Melvin Mora agreeing Sunday to play for the Rockies, the Rangers are down to Rocco Baldelli and existing talent to fill the final spot on the bench. One Rangers official dropped Gary Sheffield's name. He'd probably be better at first base than Andruw Jones was last year, and he had a good 2009 in limited action with the Mets. Sheffield has nine career games at first and logged 63 in the outfield last year.

Tuesday: Two significant things happened at the Newberg Report event across Central Expressway from my back doctor. First, Greenberg made an appearance, proving that he indeed did not go to New York to face those vicious lenders. Instead, he faced Rangers fans for the first time and could say and/or do nothing wrong. Lots of optimism. Second, an auction of more than 20 autographed items -- many featuring Michael Young's John Hancock -- raised $12,170 for Wipe Out Kids' Cancer. Half came from the fans, half from Young matching their total. More can and should be raised by visiting www.carrymecarson.com and purchasing the book, Carry Me, by cancer patient Carson Leslie. He died recently after a lengthy battle, during which time he forged a friendship with Young. Carson's mom, Annette, repeated her speech from a few nights earlier at the Rangers Mid-Winter Awards Banquet. Touching stuff.

Wednesday: A report about the supposed clash with the HSG lenders suggested that nothing much happened that could derail the sale of the Rangers. The hope here is that's the last word about the sale until it's approved by MLB's team owners.

Thursday: Tom Hicks says that he is seeking investors in the Dallas Stars, the other part of the deteriorating HSG empire.

Today: The equipment truck was loaded and then it headed off for Surprise, Ariz., the Rangers' spring training home. If only it was making a quick turnaround with some of that sunny, warm Arizona weather in tow.

-- Jeff Wilson

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