Is there anything worse than the music they play when you are on hold? My record is 56 minutes! Yes, that is just four minutes short of an hour. On Hold! Now let me explain, it was an insurance company, and I was waiting to learn that the other driver had accepted responsibility (good thing, since the other driver was at fault). So this wait saved me a lot of money and preserved my pristine record with my insurance company.
Nevertheless, it was 56 minutes of jazzy, upbeat, modern country, pop with a hint of classic rock playing on a loop. Plus the occasional rejoinder reminding me that this insurance company also offered boat, motorcycle and life insurance. I swear I heard that song in my head for days.
Months later, on Dec. 2nd, I swear I began hearing it again. Not that there was another accident, thank God. No, I heard it then because the game I love was placed on hold. One day earlier the Rangers held an all-day press conference to announce that they had signed Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Kole Calhoun and Jon Gray to free agent deals totaling $561.2 million. Rangers President Jon Daniels and General Manager Chris Young hinted that the team was not done signing free agents. And then the”hold music” began.
It is so difficult for fans to understand or accept this, in part because there is so little information available. This one is officially a lockout – not a strike – but the result is the same: Baseball was placed on hold. We did not hear of a proposal from the owners until Jan. 13th. That’s 42 days after the lockout began. I know we had the holidays in there, but, really, it took almost a month and a half to even begin negotiating? That first proposal was summarily dismissed by the players association because that is how this works. We go back and forth until one side blinks. I think watching a staring contest is worse than “hold music.”
Rangers fans’ eyes were opened to a whole new world on Dec. 1st. Jon Daniels characterized it as working backwards. Typically a team will build a strong nucleus of home-grown players and supplement it with a few free agents.
JD and Chris Young looked at this free agent class and said, “these guys are perfect for the culture we are trying to re-establish here.” So they grabbed the free agents before their top 10-ranked farm system produces the talent that they expect it will.
Corey Seager is the big fish. At 27 years old, he is considered the best offensive shortstop in the game; he is also a great veteran presence in the clubhouse with a World Series Ring, ironically won in Arlington when he was with the Dodgers in 2020. He also has a great relationship with Rangers Manager Chris Woodward.
Marcus Semien finished third in MVP voting in two of the past three years. The 31-year-old second baseman hit 45 home runs for the Blue Jays last year. He was a thorn in the side of Rangers teams for years during his time in Oakland. Like Seager, he is a great leader who will help mold the likes of Josh Jung, Sam Huff, Jack Leiter and Cole Winn – youngsters still – into championship caliber players.
Clearly, Chris Young is a great salesman. He convinced those two, as well as Calhoun and Gray to sign with a team that lost 102 games last year. His sales pitch was simple, effective and outlined at the General Manager meetings last November. He told free agents, “You want to be a part of something that’s never been done in Texas Ranger baseball history: Be a part of a world championship team that is being built from the ground up. If you’re buying stock, now’s the time to buy stock in the Rangers.”
Some of the best in the game have bought in. That allowed the Rangers to spend more on free agents in one day than any team had ever spent in an entire off season. Now we wait to see them build, see them lead, see them play.
And we really hope that none of them will choose jazzy, upbeat, modern country, pop with a hint of classic rock as their walk up song.