In mid-November, it happened. Kinsler was vacationing with his family in Hawaii when a Dallas radio personality texted about Kinsler's being dealt to Detroit for Fielder. Kinsler searched for news online. Then Beltre, who was also in Hawaii, confirmed the trade with his agent, Scott Boras, who represents Fielder as well. "I want to be the one who tells Ian," Daniels explains, "but literally, the story breaks while I'm on a plane to Tucson. I feel bad that's how he found out."
Kinsler says Daniels was the last to contact him, leaving him a voice mail well after the deal had gone public. He never returned the call.
IN HIS EIGHT years in Texas, Kinsler saw the team emerge from an also-ran into a perennial contender. For that, he credits former CEO Nolan Ryan. "Nolan put us on the map. He brought respect to the organization," Kinsler says. By 2012, that reputation was fading. "I saw the two World Series teams, and the way we played, the toughness we had as a team, it had started to move away from that ... It's weird. In the past four years, Texas has been at the top, but no one says, 'What a great organization.'"
During that time, it was well-known throughout the game that there was a power struggle going on between Ryan and Daniels, who had acquired the title of president of baseball operations last March in a front office restructuring that ultimately led to Ryan's departure after the season. Kinsler squarely blames the man who traded him. "Daniels is a sleazeball," he says. "He got in good with the owners and straight pushed Ryan out. He thought all the things he should get credit for, Ryan got credit for. It's just ego. Once we went to the World Series, everybody's ego got huge, except for Nolan's."
When Daniels hears Kinsler's version, he refrains from returning fire. "I'm not going to justify that," he says. "He was a key member of the best teams in the history of the franchise. He's entitled to his opinion."
Kinsler says that with Ryan's role diminished the past couple of years, the Rangers lost the swagger and professionalism that had been a point of pride for the team. He believes the Rangers will regret yielding to Daniels at Ryan's expense. "Nolan s -- s gold here," he says. "Once the Rangers fall apart, he's going to s -- gold even more because they turned on him."
Now, the drama behind him, Kinsler has a chance to step back. "I'll miss all my teammates," he says. "I'll miss Elvis and Beltre, Mitch [Moreland], Matt Harrison and [Ron] Washington." But the frustration -- with his play, with the team, with the organization -- is still so raw. "To be honest with you, I hope they go 0-162. I got friends, and I love my friends, but I hope they lose their ass."
HOWARD KINSLER, A former Arizona prison warden who would hit grounders to his son for hours on end, calls Ian often. They talk about how change can be a good thing and about how Ian can return to being an elite player. "What you get back tells you how good the players involved were," his dad tells him. "You got traded for Prince Fielder, dude." In Detroit, waiting for Kinsler, is another chance to stop the slide, to erase the doubt, to recapture what Ian Kinsler is all about.