Spare the A-Rod

Illustration by John Green

The occasion was the Governor’s annual Christmas party for the media, the guest list swollen this year by the presence of the national big shots who were in town covering the president-elect. The protocol quickly became apparent. George W. Bush stationed himself in a corner, and the media, groupies for a night, approached him in a mass that slowly rotated counterclockwise, like a hurricane trying to make landfall. Eventually the motion would bring everyone close enough to ask a single question. I had time to ponder what to ask. Do you think you would have won a statewide recount in Florida? How do you plan to get along with the Democrats? Is the economy going to collapse? No, no, no. These are trivial matters. When my turn came, I made it count.

“What do you think about A-Rod’s $252 million contract?” I asked the former managing general partner of the Texas Rangers.

“When you pay more for your shortstop than you paid for your team,” said the next president of the United States, “that ought to be a warning sign that your labor costs are out of control.”

No fuzzy math here: Bush and his fellow owners sold the Rangers to Dallas investment and media mogul Tom Hicks for $250 million in 1998, forsaking baseball for easier pursuits—at least for Texans. Bush is the third Texan to make it to the presidency since the Houston Colt .45’s brought major league baseball to the state in 1962, to be joined ten years later by the Rangers. In those 38 years, the Cowboys have won five Super Bowls and the Rockets and the Spurs have won NBA championships, but neither the renamed Astros nor the Rangers have ever won a playoff series, much less the World Series. Who would have imagined back in 1962 that

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