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Hicks persuades A-Rod

Special to

December 11

DALLAS -- Sure, it's the money. It's $252 million for 10 years in a state with no income tax.

But Alex Rodriguez could have played the game when Peter Angelos called a few days back and offered to start at $180 million for 10. But A-Rod respectfully declined. He did not want to play in Baltimore.

Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez now has 252 million more reasons to celebrate.

And this is not a case of turning his back on Seattle. The last offer he got from the Mariners was a five-year, $94 million proposal -- with a mutual out after three years that made it $54 million guaranteed -- before the end of the season.

When the Seattle delegation flew to Miami last week to meet with the 25-year-old superstar, owner Howard Lincoln and president Chuck Armstrong weren't present. They were in Hawaii, and remained there in the heated final days of the negotiations.

So, sure, A-Rod is worth more than the Minnesota Twins. But while he is a New York, South Beach person, there are a lot of reasons other than the total package why Texas got him. The first reason is owner Tom Hicks. Understand that he is a classic Texas billionaire who has one of the three highest local radio-TV packages of any of the 30 teams; he is either third or fourth in total revenues before marketing A-Rod and has turned the Dallas Stars into a champion.

He has taken the framework of the original master plan of George W. Bush -- a plan to develop the area around The Ballpark -- and is developing office buildings, restaurants, etc. All built around the park, marketed around Alex Rodriguez.

"Hicks has a huge vision of what the baseball franchise is and he is very creative," says an agent. Another agent recalls that when he went after Brett Hull for the Stars, Hull said there was no way he would go to Texas. He signed upon the first meeting.

When Rodriguez and Scott Boras came to Arlington to meet Hicks, the Ranger owner squired the player all through the area, showing him his vision for the development. Players like Rafael Palmeiro came to talk to Rodriguez. GM Doug Melvin gave him a video presentation of their best prospects, like Carlos Pena. Then when Hicks, Melvin and Boras had lunch one day, Rodriguez spent the time in the clubhouse talking with hitting coach Rudy Jarmarillo, one of the most respected men in the game.

Players have long loved playing and living in Texas; most who play there live there year-round. It is a team with a huge Hispanic delegation. They now have arguably one of the best shortstops and best catchers ever in A-Rod and Pudge. They have Palmeiro and Andres Galarraga. Their two best young players are Ruben Mateo and Carlos Pena.

Oh, yes. There are no tents and perks here, not in the contract. Hicks likely will give A-Rod some luxury box -- like Mike Piazza and others -- and in one of those office buildings there will be space. There were reports that he had an out if the team failed to make the playoffs two straight years. Not so. No tent. No plane (he has his own deal with a Boston firm).

Now the Rangers have to get some more pitching. One way may be to deal Royce Clayton and Ricky Ledee to Seattle for Brett Tomko, and they may shop Gabe Kapler. They also have to solve serious bullpen questions.

But however their pitching search works out, this is a team that's going to be a lot of fun, a lot of 12-6, 15-8 games, with perhaps the best player in the game.

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