Archive for October, 2010

Cliff Lee Learns the Power of The Claw

With one out and his catcher on base, Cliff Lee came to the plate for the first time as a Texas Ranger. He started to do what everyone expected him to do – bunt. He squared off and bunted foul, then squared off and pulled back for a ball. Then he squared off to bunt, pulled back, and hammered a pitch into left-center field for a double. Standing on second base, he turned towards the visitors dugout and saw his teammates all waving one hand above their heads. They were giving him The Claw. Lee smirked and spread his hands as if to say, “What do I do with that?” It doesn’t appear that he gave them The Claw back.

That was his undoing.

Lee gave up two runs in the third inning and five in the fifth for a total of seven runs, six of them earned. He lasted just 4 2/3 innings before being removed. Throughout the rest of the game the cameras would show Lee sitting in the dugout, frustrated with himself, shaking his head. Clearly, his mind was on one thing. He should have given The Claw to his teammates. Never disrespect The Claw.

Here’s a clip of Lee failing to give The Claw (how long before they take it down?):

I’ve read a lot of talk about whether the Rangers could/should have pulled Lee earlier than when they did. But for all of that talk, I thought the decision was one batter premature. I felt as though they should have left him in to face Uribe and give him the chance to get out of the inning. I thought that he’d have a better chance against Uribe than O’Day would have. Ron Washington chose to go with O’Day, who gave up the three run shot that put this game out of reach for the Rangers.

They’ve been resilient all season long, can they continue to be? We’ll find out tonight.

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Dallas Cowboys’ Season… Over.

It was over long before, but any questions about the Dallas Cowboys’ season were answered when Tony Romo left the game with a broken clavicle after a hit by Giants Linebacker Michael Boley. John Kitna has done nothing, and shouldn’t really be expected to do much, given that he’s hadn’t taken a snap in about year and a half before tonight.

And this was so close to being the perfect sports weekend. Oh well.

Too bad Cliff Lee doesn’t play two sports.

Clearly, I’ve Lost My Mind

First the Rangers win the pennant and advance to the World Series. Then the Baylor Bears win their sixth game and become bowl-eligible. Now, today we learn that the Bears are in the Top 25. In both polls.

It’s become evident to me that somewhere in the past week I must have lost my mind.

The proof is in the Top 25 polls. Check out the photo at the bottom of the post. I snagged it from ESPN’s website. The AP Top 25 has the Bears at #25. The USA Today poll has the Bears at #24. The thing is, if you look, the Bears’ position looks the same. It’s because the AP poll has only 24 teams. There’s no #6 in their Top 25.

I must be hallucinating.

Right?

Granddad Would Have Loved This

Nineteen years ago, I sat in my grandfather’s bedroom on a summer afternoon and talked baseball with him. We talked about the Texas Rangers and how they were faring. I remember talking with him about a young outfielder named Juan Gonzales and my grandfather’s expectations for him. A few minutes later my grandmother came in and ushered me out of the room so that Granddad could rest. He was bedridden with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. That conversation was the last I had with my grandfather; he passed away a few weeks later.

He was a devoted fan to his Cowboys and his Rangers, if a somewhat jaded one. His favorite phrase to utter as the ballgame inevitably fell apart was, “Well, there goes the ol’ ballgame.” He wasn’t a curmudgeon, merely a realist. He knew the game, and he knew the inevitability of the Rangers’ fate. It became something of a humorous thing for my family, but when he said those words, he was usually right.

I feel like that’s the kind of following that the Texas Rangers had. Growing up in West Texas, the Rangers were my team. My grandfather’s phrase colored my expectations for the Rangers and still does. As the Rangers struggled down the stretch of the regular season, I thought to myself that the inevitable post All-Star break slump had finally arrived, they were going to choke, and end up watching the playoffs from their living rooms yet again. But it didn’t happen.

When the Rangers dropped two games at home in the ALDS when they had the chance to send the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays home, I thought that we were doomed to another year as the only baseball franchise without a postseason series win. But that didn’t happen.

When the Yankees exploded in the 8th inning of Game 1 to take a 6-5 lead, I thought, “Well, there goes the ol’ ballgame… and the series.” I expected the Rangers’ confidence to crumble and the Yankees to plow through the Rangers like they had in the Rangers’ only three previous playoff appearances. But that didn’t happen.

In Game 4, the Yankees took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the 4th Inning and A.J. Burnett looked solid, I thought to myself, “Well, there goes the ol’ ballgame.” I thought the Rangers were going to fizzle, and that the Yankees were going to climb back into the series. But that didn’t happen. Instead, Bengie Molina hit a first-pitch, two out curveball down the left field line and into the Yankee Stadium bleachers, clinching a 3-1 series lead.

After a slight, but not unexpected, speed bump in Game 5, the Rangers dominated the Yankees in Game 6 to send the Yankees home crying and the Rangers to their first-ever World Series. They dominated. They made the Yankees pay for their strategic decisions and their mistakes. It was a beautiful thing to watch. As Alex Rodriguez watched as a Neftali Feliz slider slipped past him (poetic justice for a player who called the Rangers “24 kids” when he demanded a trade out of Arlington), the celebration that had been building in the stands exploded onto the field, the traditional team dogpile happening somewhere between home plate and the pitcher’s mound. The Rangers had defeated the New York Yankees. They are going to the World Series.

Granddad, I think we can finally retire the saying.

He would have loved this team. These Rangers love baseball; watch for a few innings and it becomes apparent. From The Claw and The Antlers to the ear-to-ear grins after a home run, to manager Ron Washington pounding the rail and running in place as his players race down the basepaths, it’s easy to see that these Rangers love the game of baseball, and they love each other. When one struggles, another steps in with a clutch hit or play in the field. They are family. They’re the kind of team to believe in. They were my grandfather’s kind of team, where everybody contributes, nobody loafs, and fun is had all around.

Granddad would have loved this.

Josh Lewin Out of the Rangers’ Booth

As if the Rangers’ squandering of their 2-0 series lead against the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays wasn’t heartwrenching enough, the announcement was made today that Josh Lewin, 1/2 of the entertaining pressbox duo known as Josh ‘n Tom, will no longer be broadcasting for the Texas Rangers.

Josh posted a thank-you and goodbye on the the site Lone Star Ball. Check it out here.

We’ll miss you, Josh.

Friday “Funny”: Prediction

Over on espndallas.com’s colleges blog, columnist Richard Durrett’s predictions post had this to say about Baylor’s upcoming game against Texas Tech:

Baylor vs. Texas Tech (11 a.m., Cotton Bowl, Saturday): This should be a great matchup in the Dallas area. Texas Tech is coming off a bad loss at Iowa State and should be highly motivated to get back on track. Baylor seems poised to get to a bowl game and a win over the Red Raiders would certainly give them some momentum toward that goal. Robert Griffin III had a breakout game last weekend and is ready for more. I’ll take the Bears.
Prediction: Baylor 28, Texas Tech 24.

Whoa… Whoa. Whoa.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a lifelong Baylor fan, and I’ve learned that getting your hopes up regarding Baylor sports leads to inevitable disappointment. Perhaps it’s just because this is something I hardly ever see. I don’t know, but I can’t help but feel like someone’s playing a cruel joke on me, trying to ruin a good start to a Friday.

Not funny, Richard!