ARLINGTON, Texas -- Ask any Rangers fan from the 1970's, 80's or even 90's and they would probably tell you that they were thrilled to see two Texas Rangers suit up for the MLB All-Star game.
This year, the Rangers are sending a club-record seven players to the 2012 All-Star game, as winning has become commonplace in Arlington.
In their 40 years in Texas, the Rangers have sent more than two players to the All-Star game only 12 times, including this season. The Rangers have had three All-Stars twice (1991 and 2009), four All-Stars six times (1989, 1992, 1998, 1999, 2005 and 2008), five All-Stars twice (2004 and 2011) and six All-Stars only once in 2010. The Rangers have been virtually devoid of All-Star pitchers, sending at least one pitcher in only 15 years, including 2012.
The last three All-Star games, the Rangers have sent no less than five players, setting a club-record with six in 2010. 2012 also marks the second consecutive season that Ron Washington has managed the AL All-Star team. It shows just how much the perception of the Rangers has changed across the nation, even since 2009.
"This used to be a team that I didn’t want to be traded to," All-Star closer Joe Nathan said. "Because of the weather and just where they were, it was a place that wasn’t that attractive to me. And to go from that to putting everyone else on hold to make sure I got something done here, it’s just done a complete 180."
It's no coincidence that a change in perception comes with winning at a high level. 2010 and 2011 of course marked the Rangers first two appearances in the World Series. But even the recent winning pedigree is a testament to just how vital the organizational level has been in taking the Rangers from a struggling franchise to a thriving one.
The turnaround can be traced to when Jon Daniels was appointed general manager at the end of the 2005 season. Daniels began drastically revamping the Rangers farm-system, which has been vital to the Rangers success today. 1989 All-Star Nolan Ryan's tenure as president, beginning in 2008, and CEO, beginning in 2010, was another major step. Add in some key hires and trades by this management team, and the Rangers had solidified their status as a contender.
"This is a place a lot of people want to be now," Nathan said. "You hear it all the time on SportsCenter and across the league, this team really has no weaknesses. Even with the injuries, we’ve been able to go out and play good baseball. Credit to everybody that’s had a hand in this. It’s never one person that turns an organization around like this.”
With the final All-Star ballot out, Yu Darvish has a chance to join Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Mike Napoli, Matt Harrison and Nathan as the club's record eighth All-Star this season. And with the current management in place coupled with a lauded farm-system, a proven coach and some fantastic talent at every position, the Rangers could make a habit out of dominating All-Star rosters.