This column appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on August 15, 2006
By JAN HUBBARD
The home run has given Rangers fans much to cheer about in recent years, but it’s become a subject of great debate at Ameriquest Field since the Gold Club opened in 2000.
If you asked the ballpark, renovations to the video board are more important than the home runs.
Until a certain wide receiver landed in the area, the resident media whipping boy was a poor, beleaguered figure known as Ameriquest Field.
The Rangers play in one of the nicest parks in Major League Baseball, yet when their lack of success in making the playoffs is discussed, the ballpark often takes a large part of the blame.
Some of the criticism has been so intense that it has caused the Rangers to spend a significant amount of money on studies to determine whether the addition of the Gold Club in 2000 altered wind patterns and resulted in making the park a hitter’s paradise.
Some believe, however, that the Rangers have wasted their money. One of those reportedly is Ameriquest Field, but until now, no one has asked.
So it seemed to make perfect sense to go right to the source.
It was a pleasant surprise when Ameriquest Field agreed to the session because, well, who knew a baseball park could talk?
But it did make for an exclusive, albeit somewhat hostile and defensive, interview.
Star-Telegram:Thanks very much for agreeing to talk to us.
Ameriquest Field:Ask your stupid media questions.
S-T:Why the attitude?
AF: You’d have one too if you had been blamed for all the terrible decisions by management. The quality of pitching is not my fault.
S-T: But wouldn’t you agree that because you allow home runs so easily that it discourages free-agent pitchers from signing with the Rangers?
AF: Kevin Millwood signed. Make a financial commitment and they’ll sign. If a guy is making $10 million to $15 million a year, he doesn’t care about anything but winning. And that’s the way it should be. If a pitcher is such a wimp that he worries about a little wind, then I don’t want him here. Besides, the Gold Club has nothing to do with more home runs.
S-T:Wait a minute. In the six seasons after the GC was built, there were 314 more home runs than there were in the six years before it was built.
AF: Yes, genius, there were. But pay attention because this may be a little complicated for a media moron. Those home runs are divided between two teams. So they weren’t all against the Rangers.
In the six years before the GC, the Rangers out-homered opponents by an average of 93-85, and in the six years after the GC, the Rangers had a 128-102 average advantage. So it helped us, you dimwit.
S-T: But there were more homers.
AF: Yes, Columbo. There was an average of about 53 more per year. There are 81 home games. That’s less than one per game. And that’s spread between two teams.
S-T:So you are admitting there were more because of wind generated by the addition of the Gold Club.
AF: OK, fine. But the effects are minimal. Check this: In the six years before the GC, the Rangers averaged 5.7 runs a game at home. In the six years after it was built, they averaged 5.83 runs a game. Project that over a full season, and it’s about 11 runs a season.
S-T: Only 11 runs a year more after the GC? I’ve never heard that.
AF: You’re not smart enough to ask.
S-T: Is there more?
AF: Would you agree that Yankee Stadium is not a hitter’s park for right-handed batters?
AF: In 2001 and 2003, Alex Rodriguez hit 26 home runs out of me. In 2005, he hit 26 home runs in Yankee Stadium.
ST: But he also got you for 34 in 2002.
AF: He hit 57 that year, too. Was it him or me?
AF: Fine. One year.
S-T: I suspect you have more, but I’m sure you would be picking and choosing your stats.
AF: Of course. Everyone slants stats — especially people like you. Let’s just say that Kenny Rogers is allowing about the same number of home runs this year in Detroit as he did last year in Texas, and Alfonso Soriano is hitting as many home runs in RFK Stadium — the noted pitcher’s park — as he did here last season.
S-T: Is there anything else that is bothering you and contributes to your irritability?
AF: Yes. I am a bit upset at management. I need to be pampered a little. I have had very little makeover in 12 years.
S-T: What would you like?
AF: First, a new sound system. The one we have was, I think, installed by Thomas Edison. I want stuff like they have at Mavericks games. Have you seen how Mavericks games are presented? They’re the Jetsons and we’re the Flintstones.
S-T: Well, one thing you have to be thankful for is your announcer doesn’t squeal like that Mavericks guy.
AF: My guy does have a soothing, professional voice. As far as the Mavericks guy, I think that screamers like him are proof that God had a sense of humor when He invented laryngitis.
S-T: Do you really need a new sound system for exciting music like Deep in the Heart of Texas? You play it every night. You know, there are other songs by Texas artists. Enough’s enough.
AF: People like it. They clap at all the proper parts.
S-T: Do you like it every night? It’s corny — hardly attractive to the hip crowd that has a bunch of disposable income.
AF: Well, I have to admit that sometimes, rather than listen to that song, I’d prefer to have my concourse jackhammered.
S-T: What do you think about some of the other between-innings stuff — like guessing the temperature?
AF: It is about as interesting as watching 24 consecutive hours of Around the Horn.
S-T: Picking which ball is under one of the three caps?
AF: About as intriguing as Tiger Woods teeing off at the 72nd hole with a four-stroke lead.
S-T: The kiss cam.
AF: How can anyone be against kissing? It’s great. The best.
S-T: Anything else?
AF: I want a new video board. My video board is so high that it sometimes has to duck when planes are landing at D/FW. It’s so tiny that I think it was built by the Lilliputians. You need binoculars to see it from home plate.
S-T: Where would you put the video board?
AF: Somewhere in left field. No one sits there anyway because the sun’s too intense. But that’s only if they won’t put in a swimming pool.
S-T: A swimming pool!
AF: Why not? Make it a family deal. Limit or ban alcohol. Sell tickets. Swim. Watch the ballgame. It’d be great.
S-T: I think the heat’s gotten to you. You’re delusional.
AF: Fine, I’ll settle for the large video board.
S-T: You know, that could affect the wind and how it carries the ball out of the park.
AF: You haven’t listened to a thing, have you? The idea that taking away less than one home run each game would have led to better pitching is absurd — even for a dunce like you. What? No GC and the Rangers would have won four World Series?
S-T: No one said that. So what would you do?
AF: Absolutely nothing. I think I’m just fine the way I am. Get me a new sound system and a couple of stud pitchers, and I’ll be the baddest park in America.