We’re not getting worked up over the new name for the Rangers ballpark, are we?

45 Comments

The Rangers’ ballpark has a new name: Globe Life Park in Arlington. It’s named after the Globe Life insurance company. Based on what I’ve seen from Twitter and the comments from the earlier post on the matter, it’s not going over too well. It’s either too dull, too lame, too corporate or too whatever else you can think of.

And I really can’t get too worked up over any of this.

The two most venerable ballparks in baseball are named after a gum company and an insurance company. Oh, you didn’t know that about Fenway Park?

[Red Sox owner John] Taylor claimed the name Fenway Park came from its location in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, which was partially created late in the nineteenth century by filling in marshland or “fens“,[10] to create the Back Bay Fens urban park. However, given that Taylor’s family also owned the Fenway Realty Company, the promotional value of the naming at the time has been cited as well.

How about all three iterations of Busch Stadium?

The brewery originally wanted to name the ballpark Budweiser StadiumFord Frick, then Commissioner of Baseball, vetoed the name because of public relations concerns over naming a ballpark after a brand of beer—an ironic stance, given all baseball clubs’ significant revenues from beer sales. However, the Commissioner could not stop Anheuser-Busch president August Busch, Jr. from renaming it after himself, and so he did . . .

Most ballparks have corporate names now or, like Fenway and Wrigley, have some commercial history to the name. The ones that don’t are Angels Stadium, Dodger Stadium, Yankee Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Marlins Park, Nationals Park, and Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Turner Field is named after Ted Turner, but his name was on the company which owned the team, so it’s hard to say which way that cuts.

The Angels had a corporate name in the past but reverted. They — and I presume Marlins Park and Nationals Park — would go corporate if the right deal came along. Maybe Orioles Park too. I’m guessing only Yankees, Dodgers and Kauffman would eschew a name-change on principle (or because their brand is bigger than any potential corporate partner’s brand). Turner Field only has a couple of years left and I’d bet my children that the Braves go with a corporate name for the new place.

But I don’t think the jokes made at Globe Park’s expense are because it’s corporate per se. Everyone knows most stadiums have corporate names now. Most people are just mad because it sounds funny. Or flat. But I can’t get too worked up over this either because just about every corporate-named ballpark sounded funny when we first heard it. We just got used to it.

We have Petco Park, which is frankly ridiculous when you think about it. There are two parks named after orange juice. “Comerica” is not a word. Do you know anyone who even uses U.S. Cellular? Really, only the parks named after beer and Great American Ballpark — which a lot of people probably don’t realize is named after an insurance company — sound sort of natural. The rest is just a mishmash of telecom and banking and stuff.

I predict people will joke about Globe Park in Arlington for a couple of days. And will make note of its awkwardness for the first two days of the season at most. And then we’ll just get used to it until the next silly corporate park name comes along.

Or, better yet, we’ll just keep calling it The Ballpark. Those guys at Globe aren’t paying us, after all. So why should we dance to their tune?

UPDATE: Donald Trump declines Nats offer to throw out the first pitch

Getty Images
86 Comments

UPDATE: Welp, we wont’ get to see that:

Sad!

8:53 AM: It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.

With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.

Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.

2017 Preview: Texas Rangers

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Texas Rangers.

The Rangers somehow won the AL West last year despite not being super great at any one aspect of the game. There are stars here — Adrian Beltre, Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Rougned Odor are all spiffy players — but the Rangers won the division by being greater than the sum of their parts. They scored a decent number of runs despite some bad collective peripheral numbers and they allowed more runs than anyone in the AL except the Twins and Athletics. Yet they had a great record in one-run games and outperformed their pythagorean record by a WHOLE lot. Luck shined brightly on the 2016 Rangers.

It’s hard to expect luck to hold in any instance, but that’s especially the case when there have been some pretty significant changes. Changes like the loss of Carlos Beltran, Ian Desmond and Mitch Moreland. In their place: A full season, the Rangers hope, from Shin-Soo Choo, a converted-to-outfield Jurickson Profar and Mike Napoli. That may wash out OK, especially if Choo is healthy, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see some regression in two of those offensive slots.

Starting pitching is also a big question mark. Cole Hamels at the top is not a problem, obviously, and if Yu Darvish is healthy and durable the Rangers have an outstanding 1-2 punch. Martin Perez in the third spot presents promise, but he’s been exactly average so far in five major league seasons. The back end of the rotation has some real problems. Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross are hurt at the moment and even if healthy, Cashner seems to be a shell of his once-promising self. A.J. Griffin is looking to pitch in his first full season since 2013. If the Rangers are strong contenders all year it’s gonna be on the “Spahn and Sain and two days of rain” model, but I have no idea what rhymes with “Darvish” and that’s sort of a problem.

The bullpen is going to look a lot like it did last year. Sam Dyson will close, but manager Jeff Banister has shown in the past that he’s not a slave to keeping guys in any one role down there. Jeremy Jeffress will likely set up but he’s closed before. Some think Matt Bush or Keone Kela could close. We’ll see Tanner Scheppers and lefty Alex Claudio. Banister has a Manager of the Year Award on his mantle and while that often doesn’t mean anything, it usually suggests that a guy knows how to deal with his pen. Banister will do OK with what he has.

Really, though, the rotation is a concern, as is hoping that a 35-year-old Mike Napoli and a soon-to-be 38-year-old Adrian Beltre can continue to be the types of players who can form the offensive core of a playoff team. There’s talent and a track record here, but there’s a lot of uncertainty. For that reason, I suspect the Rangers will fall back a smidge this year, even if they’re a playoff contender.

Prediction: Second Place, American League West.