NEW YORK – Mark Teixeira wishes the Texas Rangers would have won earlier.
As in, when he played in the Lone Star State and Tom Hicks still owned the never-quite-successful team.
"Mr. Hicks was a great owner," the New York Yankees first baseman said Wednesday, "and I wish it would have been with Mr. Hicks, because he did so many great things for Dallas and for us as players. But I know he's still going to enjoy the run that they're making."
Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez are a big part of the story in the AL championship series, which the Yankees open at Rangers Ballpark on Friday night. The pair failed to lead the Rangers to a single playoff appearances during their time deep in the heart of Texas.
The Rangers have never won the World Series, losing to the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs in 1996, 1998 and 1999. They went bankrupt under Hicks, who bought the team from former President George W. Bush's group in 1998 for $250 million. In a court-ordered auction, Hicks sold the franchise in August for $590 million to new owners headed by team president and former Rangers star Nolan Ryan.
Teixeira made it to the major leagues with the Rangers in 2003 and became an All-Star before he was dealt to Atlanta in July 2007. He moved on to the Los Angeles Angels the following year before striking a deal with the Yankees.
Rodriguez signed a record $252 million, 10-year contract with Texas before the 2001 season. But the Rangers struggled on the field even as A-Rod put up big numbers at the plate.
"We had high hopes, just like they have now," Rodriguez said "It's just things didn't work out as far as us winning games."
Almost dealt to the Boston Red Sox after the 2003 season, he wound up on the Yankees a few months later. He got caught up in the Rangers' bankruptcy case because the team still owes $24.9 million in deferred compensation.
"I'm just happy they got funded," Rodriguez said.
He says he roots for the Rangers — except not in this series — and many of his closest friends live in Big D.
"Dallas, the whole Metroplex area deserve a winner," Rodriguez said.
One of Teixeira's best friends is Rangers third baseman Michael Young, and they text each other weekly. Teixeira still has ties to the area.
Someone asked if he owns a house there.
"I still do, unfortunately," he said, seemingly a reference to depressed sales prices.
"I loved playing there, loved living there," said Teixeira, who moved to Connecticut last offseason. "I have a lot of friends I'm going to see in Texas. We'll probably go to dinner tomorrow night. And a lot of tickets to give away, too."
Rodriguez has been impressed by the Rangers' play, which has put them in the ALCS for the first time.
"As you saw last night in the first five innings, they stole three runs," he said. "Always expect the unexpected with them because they're overly aggressive, both on the bases, defensively and offensively. They do a very good job of attacking."
He only saw part of Game 5 against Tampa Bay.
"Then I went to watch a movie," he said. "'Social Network.' You should read the book."
NOTES: CC Sabathia will start Friday night's opener in Texas, with Phil Hughes now set to pitch Game 2. Andy Pettitte moves back to Game 3 and A.J. Burnett will pitch Game 4 in New York on Tuesday — his first appearance since Oct. 2. In the first-round sweep of Minnesota, Pettitte followed Sabathia. Hughes started the clincher. ... Burnett hit Greg Golson and Austin Kearns with pitches during a simulated game.