For example, the Rangers' vaunted infielders—Hargrove, Wills, Campaneris and Toby Harrah—are hitting an average of 55 points below their lifetime figures. Harrah, the whole show in Texas when the team moved there from Washington in 1972, is sulking. Hargrove, a steadfast, dedicated veteran, has an explanation for the team's failings. "I guess we're still trying to impress each other instead of the opposition," he says. "I know for myself, as a matter of pride, I want to show someone from the National League—like Al Oliver—that I'm a good hitter, too."
For their part, the outfielders have been either hot, horrid or hurt. Zisk, who was considered the top catch in last year's free-agent market and signed for a whopping $3 million, made Corbett look like a genius when he slugged a ninth-inning homer on opening day to beat the Yankees and their much-ballyhooed free agent, Rich Gossage.
But at one point Zisk went 25 games without a home run, then injured his hand on July 2 and went into a 4-for-51 slump before he would allow doctors to place the hand in a cast. The cast came off Monday. Oliver, who had missed a month with a pulled muscle, returned shortly after Zisk's injury and kept Texas respectable. In his last 15 games Oliver has smacked nine doubles and vaulted ahead of Catcher Jim Sundberg as the Rangers' leading hitter, .312 to .305 Oliver twice had four-hit nights during his hot spell, most recently last Friday in Chicago as Texas defeated the White Sox 9-5.
Bonds came back to life that same night, ending an 0-15 drought as a Ranger in Comiskey Park by stroking a pair of skyscraper home runs.
Anchored by Matlack, the former Met, the pitching staff has been surprisingly good. But although his 2.18 ERA is second in the league to the Yankees' Ron Guidry's, Matlack is just as starved for runs in Texas Stadium as he was in Shea Stadium. In his last 60 innings he has given up only seven earned runs, luckily coming away with a 3-1 record despite a curious silence from Texas' bats.
"Matlack has just been super," says Corbett. "But our defense is no good, and all we ever talk about is how good we are. When I went down to the clubhouse the other night, I said, 'All right, fellows, let's see it for a change.' I hear that Don Zimmer called us a collection of stars with no chemistry. Well, we have players who have been winners on other teams. I don't see why they can't do it in Texas. The business world is different. I know exactly what to do there. The problems are tangible. The problem with the Rangers is ego—as in 25 different ones. I'll tell you it's pretty frustrating trying to deal with something like that."
Away from the ball park, Corbett is a cool customer. A native of Long Island whose own major league baseball aspirations fizzled out deep in the minors in Fargo, N. Dak., Corbett has the appearance of a man who is always between weights. You can't tell by looking at him whether it is the trim ex-athlete or the fatso that is struggling to get out. He moved to Fort Worth in 1968 and two years later was a millionaire at 32, parlaying a $300,000 Small Business Administration loan into a fortune in the plastic-pipe and chemical-tubing business. He is president of Robintech, Inc., a company with 18 plants in eight states. With his financial success goes the company Learjet and a nationful of friends and business associates. He thinks nothing of taking 50 people to dinner at the Pimlico Hotel in Baltimore, throws a lavish party at the Boca Raton Club every year during spring training and knows a '67 Lafite-Rothschild from a bottle of Lancer's Ros�. In New York he stays at the Sherry-Netherland and in Chicago at the plush Whitehall Hotel, where the Rolling Stones holed up for two weeks during their recent American tour.
Corbett bought the debt-ridden Rangers two days before the 1974 season began and Texas nearly beat out the world champion Oakland A's for the division title. Attendance almost doubled that year and has remained at over a million every season since.
Like Charlie Finley, Corbett is shrewd, hyperemotional, a workaholic and omnipresent. And also like Finley, he doesn't seem to know when to stop maneuvering and let his players get used to one another.
"Brad became a successful businessman by selling one plant here and then buying another one over there," says Texas General Manager Danny O'Brien. "It means I have to be, shall we say, very flexible."