DALLAS - “So Midas, king of Lydia, swelled at first with pride when he found he could transform everything he touched to gold; but when he beheld his food grow rigid and his drink harden into golden ice then he understood that this gift was a bane and in his loathing for gold, cursed his prayer." -Claudian
Success has been plentiful but problematic for baseball teams business wise over the last serveral decades. Business has never been better, when you can actively kill a market yet still develop a plan to make money. All that success comes at a cost however.
An informative article from Jeff Wilson Monday gave us two things: more information about grass than most of us will ever need, and a peek into the struggle within 1000 Ballpark Way regarding the Globe Life Field playing surface.
Put simply, the baseball people want grass because duh it's a BASEBALL STADIUM. You play baseball on grass, that's the whole idea. Ownership however “are dead set on the fake stuff so that they can turn a baseball stadium into a 365/24/7 entertainment venue.”
This represents a lot more than just grass vs turf.
In theory, owners of a baseball team should want to do what's best for the team they fund. They tell us in press conferences and press releases they want to win, to bring a title to
That accepted premise leaves no doubt that the idea of turf is one that isn't best for baseball.
There's no debate on the negative effects artificial turf has on baseball all around. From the cheap appearance to the injury potential, to players not wanting to play for teams who have it (from Wilson's article: “Just look at a player’s no-trade list and see how many of them have the last two teams — Tampa Bay and Toronto — playing on fake stuff.”)
So why is ownership hung up on the new stadium having an artificial surface?
Because they got everything they wanted.
Like Midas, ownership got their one wish: a new cathedral of unnecessary opulence built on the backs and wallets of the working class in Arlington, primarily benefiting people who have contempt for those they're using to get what they want.
Those people heard ownership's cries, granting that wish. They gave owners worth billions the ability to tax others, defraying costs onto a group of folks that has seen widespread wage stagnation over the last few decades.
It's not turning everything you touch into gold, but it's pretty close.
This grappling over playing surfaces however represents ownership turning their food metallic, because their wish is working too well.
When this much money is laid out, expectations of what it will do multiply. Look at AT&T Stadium, built as a football stadium in original intent. It's now become one of the premier entertainment venues in the country for large events sports or otherwise.
It has to be, otherwise it'd be a dormant waste of taxpayer money that only serves purpose ten Sundays a year.
The Rangers ownership faces that same situation now. 81 games is a large amount, but that's still a facility that was rushed through a city vote under the banner of necessity which will be dormant over 200 days of the year.
Which means it can't just be a baseball stadium. It has to be an entertainment venue, a big top for any circus that can enrich the rent collectors while showing the folks who paid for it that they didn't waste your money. See, we're playing with that fire engine you bought us. We still love it!
Voters didn't turn out for an entertainment venue. They were told vote for this to give the Texas Rangers a new ballpark. That's the bill of goods ownership sold fans, sold voters.
For all the reasons outlined above, that baseball stadium they wanted now must become the entertainment venue they need to make a few more bucks on the venue they're only paying for half of and at the detriment of their baseball team.
Which means the ownership must betray their stated mission, put out for all the world to see, because of their greed. Their craving for a tax payer funded ballpark may end up depriving fans, voters, and an entire city of what they were told they would get if they just voted yes: The promised new ball field is now a new entertainment complex.
When Midas became frustrated with his gift, nay his curse, he begged to be relieved. He asked for help, and found salvation in the river Paclotus. It cleansed him of his curse, and brought him peace in freedom.
The difference between Midas and Rangers ownership though?
While he came to hate it, they continue to love it.
This is the long con of sports team ownership, and how the friction between a front office and the people paying them is inevitable. Folks like Jon Daniels and his charges are there to win baseball games. However, ownership is there to make money off one of the most lucrative investments in America: professional sports.
That's how we get stories like this, because you've got two forces pulling in opposite directions. Of course the baseball people want grass, that's what best for baseball. But if ownership can save some money with turf, all the while creating more money for themselves (I doubt Katy Perry playing Globe Life Field results in a new starting pitcher for the Rangers) they're going to do what they can to achieve that and that includes floating this idea about artificial turf to test the waters to see what they can get away with.
So in a grand sense, we are the Dionysus. We are the ones who blessed these owners with their power, granting their wishes no matter how exorbitant.
Don't expect the Ray Davis' to find their way into the Paclotus anytime soon. They've no incentive to; despite these conflicts and image issues the bank statements come back green and gold. Their benefit is the big win here, broken promises and fan betrayal be damned.
So they'll continue this practice of dishonest wishing.
Until we stop granting these wishes, and throw them in the river ourselves.
Do you think the new ballpark should have real grass or artificial turf to support other events? Share your thoughts with Samuel on Twitter @thesamuelhale.
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