ARLINGTON -- Three years ago Tuesday, the Rangers held a groundbreaking ceremony to begin the construction of Globe Life Field. Rangers owner Ray Davis said at the time that the goal was to build a World Series contender by the time they moved into the new ballpark.
That didn’t happen. The Rangers finished with the worst record in the American League in a 2020 season with no fans at the new ballpark and the schedule reduced to 60 games because of the pandemic.
“I think the Wicked Witch of the North flew over the baseball industry in January of 2020 and cast a spell on us,” Davis said in a conference call with local reporters on Wednesday. “For me to try and explain what happened to our team, what happened to players or other teams in this year, I have no explanation.”
In the "Wizard of Oz" book and movie, the Witch of the North was a good witch. But then, there were no witches available to come to the Rangers' rescue this season. The Rangers -- after a promising 10-9 start -- saw their season spiral with no way to halt it.
“I really don’t have any explanation,” Davis said. “I don’t have any excuses. All I can say for this year is I am embarrassed. I am embarrassed for our team. I am embarrassed for our fans and I wish it had turned out a lot differently. The fact is we have to correct what we didn’t do this year and make it better. That’s what our plan is over the next one or two years.”
General manager Jon Daniels outlined the plan in his season-ending conference call on Tuesday. The Rangers are committed to their young talent and seeing their rebuild to the end. There will be no high-priced spending in the free-agent market or quick-fix trades in an attempt to accelerate the process.
Davis said that the plan has his complete support.
"I feel very good about this plan,” Davis said. “Building a foundation of these young kids, they are fun to watch. They are full of enthusiasm. Are they going to make mistakes? Sure they are, but they are going to learn. But this foundation is strong and in a year or two, you are going to see a team with these young guys more than competitive. That’s why I am excited.”
Davis said he believes Daniels is the right person to lead the execution of this plan in his role as president of baseball operations and GM.
"I look at us making the playoffs, [five] out of the last  years,” Davis said. “Jon has demonstrated that he and his team can put together winning ball teams. If you thought about going out and replacing him, all you have is a question mark. We have a known entity. We have a group of guys that know how to get it done, and I think they are going to get it done again."
The ownership support is extended to manager Chris Woodward, who just finished his second season.
“Chris was someone we watched closely,” Davis said. “Chris is a players’ manager, and I see him relating to the guys. I see his staff working on the coaching of the guys every day, and especially now, we’ve got so many young guys that they’re excited, the young guys are excited, and they relate to each other. I see that in Chris and his staff. I’m just very impressed.”
This was a difficult year financially for the Rangers and the rest of baseball. The Rangers opened Globe Life Field and couldn’t draw any fans in the stands. Some employees were furloughed and the others had to take painful pay cuts.
Davis is hoping most of the furloughed employees will be brought back on Jan. 1 and that pay cuts will be restored. But nothing will be certain until the Rangers find out what the economic conditions will be in regard to fan attendance.
That’s why the Rangers are uncertain what the player payroll will be for 2021, although it is certain to be lower than the approximately $150 million projected for this season.
“There are two major factors there,” Davis said. “The first major factor is baseball is going to lose something in the neighborhood of $3 billion in 2020. And the life cycle of our club, we have some high-paying contracts rolling off our payroll. And we have some minimum-salary players coming on. So, it gives a justification, if you will, not to spend as much.
“We've been going through preliminary budget conversations, and I don't know what assumptions to give our staff, because I don't know what's going to happen next year. Are we going to have full fans, socially-distant fans, no fans? I just don't know.”
Davis knows one thing for certain: The Rangers' ownership group has no plans to sell the team in the near future, and Davis has no plans of stepping down from his position, either.
"As long as the good Lord keeps me on the Earth, I'll be here,” Davis said. “I have no plans at all to sell the team."