Rangers owner Hicks upbeat about '07
With Spring Training around the corner, excitement is building
DALLAS -- Rangers owner Tom Hicks has been known to climb out on a limb around this time of the year when making predictions about what's going to happen with this team in the upcoming season.But not this year, at least not now. "I don't have to," Hicks said with a laugh. That's because manager Ron Washington has been out there all winter. Usually it's the owner who is predicting the Rangers will compete for and possibly win a division title, but this time the manager beat him to it. "I'm with Wash," Hicks said this week while celebrating his 61st birthday. "I want to feel like we have a chance to win. Only one team can win, but the good thing in our division is we only have three teams to beat. They feel the same way. That's why you play the games." This has been a busy time for Hicks. As owner of the Dallas Stars, he was the host of the NHL All-Star Game at the American Airlines Center. Once that was over, he flew across the Atlantic Ocean and joined Montreal Canadians owner George Gillet in buying the Liverpool Club in the English Premier Football League. Now he is ready for Spring Training. "This is my favorite time of the year," Hicks said. "I can't wait to get out to Spring Training. I feel good about how this team came together. I'm optimistic. Of course, I always feel good about Spring Training, but I'm more optimistic this year." Hicks has had his optimism doused before. After winning two division titles in his first two years as owner, the Rangers have had just one winning season in the past seven years. That's one reason why they have a new manager, the latest in a number of significant changes over the past seven years. The Rangers are still trying to get it right, but the new manager may be the foremost reason why Hicks thinks the club's fortunes might be changing as he enters his 10th season as owner. "I think Ron will bring a quality of leadership that will help this team play up to its potential," said Hicks, who saw the Rangers win 89 games in 2004, but who were then unable to build on that over the next two seasons. "I think Ron's intangibles are really promising," Hicks said. "I think you're seeing the enthusiasm that led us to hire him. I think it will work if we let it happen. I know from talking to the players they believe it will happen. That's important." Hiring Washington was the first big change the Rangers made this winter. The latest has been signing outfielder Sammy Sosa to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.