By John Boyle
Sorry, Cowboys and Texans, but a baseball team in your state now has a better quarterback than either NFL franchise.
That’s because on Thursday morning, the Texas Rangers selected Russell Wilson in the Triple-A phase of this year’s Rule 5 draft. Yes, that Russell Wilson.
It’s well known by now that Wilson was drafted by the Colorado Rockies and spent time in their minor league system, and while the quarterback/second baseman has obviously chosen a career in football, the Rockies still controlled his baseball rights. Now, those rights belong to the Rangers should one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks suddenly decide he wants to give baseball another shot.
The Rangers, of course, aren’t counting on Wilson playing for them, but they do hope some of his intangibles can rub off on players. The Rangers plan to invite Wilson to spring training, not to get him ready for the season, but to perhaps pass on a few words of wisdom to young players.
“At the end of the day, he obviously has a lot bigger things that he’s working on right now,” Rangers assistant general manager A.J. Preller told the Associated Press, “and we don’t want to interrupt with that aspect of it. But if at some point down the road he decides he wants to do baseball again, we felt like it would be a positive to have him with us.”
“You see him playing on Sunday. You hear about the work ethic, the person. I think that’s going to be a positive message for all of our players in our system.”
The Rangers also once took running back Ricky Williams in the Rule 5 draft even though he too had chosen football by that point in his career. So it’s probably safe to say that the Rangers would now be listed as 3.5-point favorites over the Texans if they were to play this weekend.
Of course the loser in this transaction is Luis Ugueto, who up to this point was the athlete most associated with the Rule 5 draft by Seattle sports fans. If you’ll recall, Ugueto spent parts of the 2002 and 2003 seasons with the Mariners—his only time in the Major Leagues—after coming to Seattle via the Rule 5 draft. Ugueto didn’t do a lot other than pinch run, but his stint in Seattle was somewhat memorable because Mariners manager Lou Piniella, seemingly not knowing Ugueto’s name, referred to him as “The Rule 5 Kid” throughout his brief tenure. Alas, Ugueto’s run as Seattle’s most popular Rule 5 Kid is now over.