Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks is in a lot of trouble these days, as Maury Brown related yesterday on Forbes.com. Currently shouldering more than $525 million in debt, Hicks has left his Rangers frozen in carbonite, essentially unable to move on a player acquisition front, while awaiting the findings of a bankruptcy court judge, and an auction of the club. Since buying the club in 1998, Hicks has done a lot to besmirch the good name of the Rangers, which begs the question, just how good of a name was it to begin with? Fortunately, The Common Man is uniquely equipped to provide an objective review of the name.
Definition: Law enforcement officers for the state of Texas with broad jurisdiction over criminal investigation.
Characteristics: Chuck Norris
The best thing about being a Texas Ranger: You are forever associated with Chuck Norris, and boy is he badass.
The worst thing about being a Texas Ranger: You will never live up to the example set by Chuck Norris.
More good news: The Texas Rangers are the oldest state-wide law enforcement agency in the United States, tracing their organization back to 1823 (more than 20 years before Texas was even a state). As such, the Rangers have a strong sense of tradition that is respected around the state and country. For a team as young as the Rangers (the club moved from Washington in 1972), tapping into this tradition is important. The Rangers have also proven extremely successful over the course of their existence. Rangers were instrumental in the capture or killing of bank robbers Sam Bass, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, and “the meanest man alive,” John Wesley Hardin. They are, as an organization, generally beloved by many of the state’s residents, who have lionized them. Their toughness is legendary, and is underscored by their Western apparel, which they are required to wear. Supposedly, you only need one ranger to stop one riot, which is good when your team is struggling. Finally, they are legally protected (as of 1976) by the Texas Government Code from being disbanded, which means they have some excellent job security.
On the other hand: Look, TCM hates to bring this up, but the Texas Rangers’ history has not always been pleasant. Many of the Rangers left to fight for the Confederacy in the Civil War. Also, while the Rangers have been used to keep the peace along the Mexico border, it had a pretty shameful track record in the 19th and early 20th centuries regarding how they treated Hispanics in that area. In particular, they were known to summarily execute suspected bandits and torture them for information and confessions. In 1918, Rangers massacred every single male between the ages of 16 and 72 (15 in all, all Mexican-Americans) in Porvenir, Texas. A 1919 investigation by the Texas Legislature concluded that, between 1910 and 1919, somewhere between 300 and 5000 people, mostly of Mexican descent, had been killed by Rangers. Tom Hicks, it would seem, would have fit in well with the Rangers of the era. Also, you have been made into a movie starring James Van der Beek, Dylan McDermott, Usher, and Ashton Kutcher (a movie that TCM now, absolutely, needs to see).
Final Analysis: Finally, we get a nickname that refers to a specific group of people with a specific task, not some amorphous group like “Metropolitans,” “Yankees,” or “Nationals.” This specificity is a huge point in the name’s favor. Also, Texas Rangers are a much beloved institution, such that they are protected by law, and are generally respected for being all around bad-asses. While their ability to work together (one ranger, one riot) is somewhat in question, they are generally so awesome individually that we can overlook this deficiency. Aside from that pesky tendency toward racism and massacre (that TCM prays was weeded out a century ago), the Texas Rangers are a pretty awesome nickname. If you have to be associated with a particular group, this is the one TCM would want to belong to. Nothing will make you forget about Tom Hicks faster than Chuck Norris. Grade: A
By the way, TCM’s prediction on this Rangers/bankruptcy situation is that Chuck Norris will buy the Rangers just so that he can arrange a brawl with Nolan Ryan. The fight will end in a draw, when the men collide, emitting a mushroom cloud of testosterone that rains down on the population of Texas, resulting in everyone (women included) growing a manly stubble on their jaw.