By Murray Chass on October 24, 2010

    Let the word go forth across the baseball land. The Texas Rangers, long a fumbling, bumbling team and incompetent organization, are a legitimate champion and a team to be reckoned with for years to come.

    They have demonstrated their emergence into legitimacy this post-season, knocking off the teams (Rays and Yankees) with the two best won-lost records in the American League. They can further enhance their status in the World Series by beating the Giants, who toppled the two-time National League champion Phillies, who had the best record in the majors this year.

    “The old Rangers are gone; they’re a thing of the past,” Chuck Greenberg, the Rangers’ new managing partner, said. “We’re very well capitalized. We’ve got an ownership group with tremendous resources.”

    Greenberg, whose ownership group assumed control of the team two months ago, was speaking last week of the team’s financial capabilities, specifically with reference to its ability to retain Cliff Lee, the supernatural post-season pitcher. But his declaration applied to the entire Rangers’ operation, off field and on.

    The franchise is in the World Series for the first time, ending a shutout that began in Washington, D.C., in 1961, moved to Texas in 1972 and lasted just a year less than half a century.

    The Rangers won three division titles in a four-year span in the late ‘90s, but Tom Hicks, who bought the team in June 1998, set the team on a downward spiral when he signed Alex Rodriguez to an unheard of 2 million contract after the 2000 season and fired general manager Doug Melvin after a second straight last-place finish in 2002.

    Hicks, however, was the owner under whose regime the Rangers began their ascent. His hiring of Nolan Ryan as the club’s president in February 2008 triggered the ascent. During Ryan’s reign the Rangers have increased their annual victory total from 75 to 79 to 87 to 90.

    “I have enormous respect and appreciation for the fact that the cornerstones for our success were put in place before I showed up,” said Greenberg, a Pittsburgh sports lawyer. “At the same time we’re proud that we were in this in 2009 when it wasn’t obvious. The team was under .500 and not drawing well.”

    Seven weeks before Ryan rejoined the Rangers – he played his last five years and pitched the last two of his seven no-hitters for them – they acquired a player who would join Ryan as a cornerstone of the pennant-winning team. He was Josh Hamilton, whom general manager Jon Daniels obtained from Cincinnati, where he played in 2007 after basically missing four seasons with drug and alcohol problems.

    Murray Chass

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