T.R.'s Memoirs: These two pitchers are the most underrated players in Texas Rangers history (Part II)
The Rangers have won two American League pennants. C.J. Wilson was their Pitcher of the Year each season.
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T.R. Sullivan covered the Texas Rangers over 32 years for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and MLB.com and is sharing his “memoirs” with this newsletter. In this two-part installment, Sullivan looks back at the Rangers careers of right-handed pitcher Rick Helling and left-hander C.J. Wilson.
What they did for the Rangers is fading in club history but deserves to be remembered by those who followed the team. Part 1 focused on Helling. This is part 2 and the story of C.J. Wilson.
C.J. Wilson invited me to his hotel room at the end of spring training in 2011. We were working on a story that involved dissecting his start against the Rays in the American League Division Series the previous October.
When I entered his room at the Residence Inn in Surprise, I was stunned by the sight.
The room was packed with thousands and thousands of dollars of equipment. Photography, computer, video, exercise, music (he loved the guitar), who knows what else.
There were books and clothes and no doubt anything and everything he could read to feed his passion for cars and auto racing. Or cryotherapy or the hit television show Lost.
This was not the room of a major-league pitcher who had come to Arizona for six weeks of spring training.
This was the abode of a Renaissance Man with a variety of interests that had little or nothing to do with baseball. This is a guy who went to South Africa to photograph wildlife on safari. This is a guy who spent an off-day in spring training firing weapons at a gun club in Scottsdale and then eagerly related the experience the next day in the clubhouse.
This is a guy who could give you chapter and verse on why the Vinoy Renaissance Hotel in Saint Petersburg, Fla., made the best omelets in the American League. Something about using only egg whites and the freshest vegetables.
Christopher John Wilson is smart. There is little doubt about that. He knows he is smart, but it’s also important to him for you to know he is smart. It’s important for him to have the insight, knowledge and the important opinions on just about every subject.
And there is no doubt that could be irritating … to his bosses, his teammates, opposing players and especially the media. For as smart and as well-spoken as Wilson is, he could easily frustrate, irritate and downright infuriate those holding notebooks and microphones.
Wilson didn’t do soundbites or cliches, or give simple answers. Even the simplest question could elicit the most complex answers, unless he found the question beneath him.
What is that stupid cliché? Oh yeah, C.J. did not suffer fools gladly.
But it’s something I figured out during my 32 years covering the Rangers.
If a group of reporters and members of the media bombard a professional athlete with question after question, year after year, only one conclusion can be drawn.
The one answering the questions is the smart one. The ones asking the questions are not. Why else would it be that way?
But Wilson was smart and he wanted to be recognized as being smart. It was important to him.
Just like being a successful major-league pitcher. Wilson wanted that, too. He wanted it bad.
C.J. Wilson made himself into a great pitcher by force of will.