Facebook was launched in 2004, currently has over 850 million active users, 150 million monthly unique visitors, and is second to only Google in total internet traffic.
Baseball Reference was launched as an independent site in April of 2000, and the site’s network generates over 100,000 unique visitors and half a million daily page views.
So, when I recently took a look at the page for the 2000 Texas Rangers, I was fascinated that one lonely person “likes” the turn of the century Rangers team. It wasn’t zero, or a random number, say 37. Exactly one person has stepped forward to like that team.
The team that year was a massive disappointment. The Rangers were hoping to take the next step forward after coming off of a run in which they had won the AL West in three out of four previous years, but failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs.
The late ‘90s Rangers teams were heavy on hitting and light on pitching. Heading into the 2000 season, general manager Doug Melvin attempted to rework the Rangers into a pitching focused franchise. His signature move was to trade former MVP Juan Gonzalez to Detroit in exchange for left handed starter Justin Thompson, and relievers Francisco Cordero and Danny Patterson. Thompson, the centerpiece of the deal, was injured at the time of the trade and would never recover. He would only pitch 1 ⅔ more Major League innings in his career – and not until 2005.
The pitching staff was a disaster. The Rangers team ERA of 5.52 was good for last in the AL. Number three starter Darren Oliver compiled a 2-9 record, 7.42 ERA, and a 1.79 WHIP in 108 innings. Doug Davis was third on the team in wins…with seven.
What about “innings-eater” Mark Clark? Well, he improved on his ‘99 numbers. His ERA fell from 8.60 in 1999, to 7.98 in 2000, but his performance was not enough to extend the pitcher’s career past that season.
On July 24th, a freak injury derailed what might have been the best season ever by a catcher. Pudge Rodriguez fractured his thumb while attempting to throw to second base, and was out for the season.
At the time, the Rangers top prospect was Ruben Mateo. The five-tool centerfielder was off to a good start, compiling a .291/.347/.447 line in his age 22 season. Unfortunately, on June 2nd, Mateo broke his leg while trying to beat out an infield grounder, and never reached his full potential.
The disappointing season caused Texas’ average attendance to drop from 34,253 in 1999, to 31,956 in 2000.
In the end, the Rangers limped to a 71-91 record. They finished in last place and 20.5 games behind Oakland.
All of this begs one question. Who is the lone, solitary person who “likes” this team? A masochistic Rangers fan? An Oakland A’s fan? Eric the Actor? Darwin Cubillan?
Whoever you are, please come forward.