Despite the Rangers beating the Tigers last night, 7-5  (with former Mets OF Victor Diaz hitting his 8th HR since being called up from Oklahoma), I somehow suspect the Fort Worth-Telegram’s Jim Reeves isn’t quite ready to let Texas owner Tom Hicks (above) off the hook.

The saddest thing of all isn’t the Rangers’ record, or their defensive incompetence (which is mind-boggling) or even their omnipresent lack of starting pitching. The saddest thing is the e-mails and the calls you hear on talk radio from the fans.They’ve lost hope. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen or heard a Rangers’ fandom in more than 30 years that’s lost hope, but this one has. In the past, hope was the one thing fans could cling to in bad times.

Sure, the team they were watching might be horrid, but coming soon from the minor leagues was a Ruben Sierra or Juan Gonzalez, a Pudge Rodriguez or a Dean Palmer, a Bobby Witt or an Oddibe McDowell, a Hank Blalock or a Mark Teixeira. Even more recently there were the DVD boys and what they might (but won’t) represent from a pitching standpoint.

But now… sheer hopelessness. Name me one Rangers’ minor league prospect the fans can’t wait to see. Eric Hurley? OK, I’ll give you that one. But that’s it, and that’s not nearly enough.

Hope, that most precious of commodities, is what Hicks has stolen from these fans, and without it, the Rangers are fast becoming a joke and a national embarrassment.

The Rangers have drafted poorly, leading to a lack of player development. There’s not a single position player currently in the system that fans can expect to make this team next spring.

Yes, Hicks should sell, because he’s lost the confidence of the people. But he won’t because he now sees the new Cowboys’ stadium as another financial windfall, with development coming around both stadiums that Hicks could never get off the ground on his own.

That’s a pity, because there’s a buyer still interested down in Round Rock, if the Rangers ever go on the market. But Nolan Ryan has to be wondering if his dream of owning a major league team in Texas will ever come to fruition.