The Texas Rangers, A Klein High Kid And Richard Justice
Richard Justice is a columnist, not a reporter. And as part of his job, he's supposed to give his opinions, no matter how wrong I think they usually are. But that said, when he's writing an opinion piece trashing Klein High School's Matthew Purke for turning down a $4-million-a-year contract with the Texas Rangers so as to go to TCU, Justice really owes it to everybody to make sure his opinion is really based on the facts of what actually happened.
So that you don't actually have to read Justice's blog post, here's a short summary. Purke was the number-one draft of the Texas Rangers in this year's amateur player draft. Purke, not satisfied with the Rangers offer, chose to instead attend TCU and play college baseball. According to Justice, Purke turned down a $4 million offer, making him an idiot who needs to question his priorities. Justice also states that the Rangers should be asking hard questions of their baseball people for wasting a draft pick on a player that they could not sign. He then praises Drayton McLane because it is McLane's edict that the team not draft the most talented players, but instead draft players that can be signed to contracts.
That's the Richard Justice version of what happened. That's not what really happened, of course, but I'm supposing that Justice just guesses that his readers only use the internet to read his posts, but otherwise don't seek out other stories on these topics. Because otherwise, he would have figured that the readers might actually plug some names into that Google thing and come up with a more accurate set of facts.
The Texas Rangers knew all along how much money Purke and his parents were seeking. A number of teams actually passed on Purke because of this, which is why the Rangers were able to draft him. And knowing how much Purke was seeking, the Rangers chose to draft him because they felt they could get him to agree to a more reasonable number. Purke was seeking $6 million dollars. At the last minute, the Rangers offered up the $4 million figure. But the reason that Purke didn't agree to the $4 million was not that he was a greedy punk, it was because Major League Baseball forced the Rangers to withdraw the offer and instead offer $2.3 million at the last moment.
And since the signing deadline was Monday, and since MLB stepped in on Monday, there wasn't a lot of time for negotiating. Thus Purke decided to go to college, and scribes and loudmouths like Justice decided to trash Purke.
But Purke and his family were working under a set of conditions that were apparently unknown to anybody but some of the Rangers officials and MLB. You see, the Rangers have a bit of a financial problem. That financial problem being that owner Tom Hicks is defaulting on his debts and his franchise is now being bankrolled by MLB -- that's right, MLB is responsible for everybody that's being paid by the team. And as the deadline approached, MLB -- supposedly at the behest of the other owners -- stepped in and interfered with the efforts of the Rangers front office, including Nolan Ryan, to sign Purke because the rest of the owners didn't want the kid to get paid.
Now it's easy for Justice to trash Purke. He's just a kid and he's not friends with MLB commissioner Bud Selig like Justice is. But seeing as how Justice was hanging out at Bud's house on Sunday, and seeing as how Justice talks about how he's buds with Bud all of the time, and seeing as how Klein is an area school, you might think that Justice would've made a few calls and attempted to get some of the facts before writing his hit piece, but instead, he chose to take the easy way out.
It seems to me that the villain of this piece isn't Purke, it's MLB, because it's clear that MLB isn't thinking of what's in the best long term interest of the Rangers, it's thinking of what's best in the short term for MLB. And seeing as how the Washington Nationals have yet to recover from their stewardship by MLB, this might end up being very bad news for the Rangers.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.