Archive for the 'sports' Category

Amazing Skill!

I always love it when athletes are on top of their game.

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Maybe the Cowboys Should Try This Play

It can’t hurt, right?

Wow… Just Wow.

As I write this, the Dallas Cowboys are down 28-7 to the Green Bay Packers with 11:30 left in the 3rd Quarter (and since I’ve been writing, the Packers have extended the lead to 35-7). They seem to be unable to accomplish anything on either side of the ball. The coaches continue to display their usual brilliance. In the first half, the coaches challenged a touchdown call that, if reversed, would place the ball on about the 1/2 yard line. Of course, the call stood after the review and cost the Cowboys a timeout. Then, later in the Second Quarter, the Packers returned a fumbled kickoff for a touchdown. The kickoff return guy’s knee was obviously down, but the Cowboys had no challenges remaining because of the earlier challenge. I couldn’t help but chuckle at it all.

The past several games have been disgraceful. The coaches make horrific play calls and decisions and the players seem to have no fire or passion. They have no heart. I think I read a few weeks ago that Phillips said they had attitude issues. Many columnists swear up and down that this isn’t a team that is leaderless… But, to quote Wood Harris’ character from Remember the Titans, “Attitude reflect leadership.”

And to think, some people said this team would win the Super Bowl.

Final Rangers Thoughts

In the three days since the World Series ended and I watched the San Francisco Giants lift the championship trophy, I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what to say about the end of the season and how I feel about it. I wrote about that sense of despair I felt the moment the ball left Aubrey Huff’s bat in Game 4, because I knew that the Rangers would not overcome the deficit. As Edgar Renteria’s three run shot in Game 5 left the yard, I didn’t experience that same sensation. I accepted that it signaled the end of the 2010 World Series and the season for the Rangers. But instead of disappointment and frustration, I felt pride. I’d done my mourning for the season and all that was left was love for this team. What a ride it was this year.

In the early stages of the season, things didn’t look so great. A horrific road trip in April left them a game under .500 and in last place in the division a day before the end of the month. It seemed like the team slogan “It’s time” wasn’t referring to winning ways. But a good string at the start of May quickly put them in first place on May 2, and they held onto that spot for the rest of the season with the exception of five days. Their play in June is the stuff of legend. Josh Hamilton hit over .450 for the month.

But they went into the All-Star Break being swept by the Baltimore Orioles, the worst team in baseball at the time. I feared that the Rangers annual “Post All-Star Break Slump” (another phrase my grandfather used and popularized by my family) came a few days early. But the Rangers responded by winning five of seven on the road against the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers.

All the while, the organization’s future was in doubt, with the ownership putting the club into bankruptcy. It looked as if Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan would take over, but a last-minute entrance by Mark Cuban and friends nearly spoiled the party. It looked for a bit as though Cuban had the better offer and would end up owning the club. But on the 17th Anniversary of Nolan Ryan’s famous encounter with Robin Ventura, Ryan’s group prevailed and the Rangers emerged from bankruptcy with new ownership. I could go on, but you know the rest.

I’ve always been a Rangers fan. Growing up in West Texas, if it was a summer night, the Rangers were on the television in our house. My parents and I would have the game on in the background while we worked on other projects or read books, occasionally looking up to see how the boys were doing. Then we’d have ice cream. It was tradition. But while I’ve always loved this team, I’ve never fully expected them to really achieve much. Their playoff experience was limited to meeting (and being dismissed by) the New York Yankees, and had one win in three series with the boys from the Bronx.

But for some reason, this year felt different. While I couldn’t quite bring myself to say it out loud, deep down I felt that this team was different, that maybe they would do something greater. My interest didn’t wane as the season progressed. It intensified. In a recent post, Jamey Newberg put it best, I think, when he said, “This was a year when the non-fan in the Metroplex became a casual fan. Casual became locked in. Locked in became hardcore. Hardcore became combustible.” That’s what happened to me. I don’t know where I was on the fan spectrum, but I know that my fandom has intensified since the season began. Wherever I was before, I’m not there anymore. Now, I’m gobbling up every bit of information I can on the resigning of Cliff Lee and watching with great interest what moves will unfold once the free agent market opens up. I’ll be keeping tabs on the team in the offseason, and watching the minor league reports to learn about prospects. The 2010 season ended three days ago, and yet I’m excited about Spring Training. I’m a different fan, I’ve changed.

I believe.

Thank you, Texas Rangers, for an amazing 2010 season. Let’s win it all in 2011.

That Sinking Feeling

This about sums it up.Joey Matschulat over at Baseball Time in Arlington has this to say, in part, following the Rangers’ 4-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Sunday evening:

Game 4 itself was a story of seeming hopelessness, reminiscent in some ways of the fourth game of the ALDS. On that particular Sunday afternoon, Tampa Bay claimed an early advantage, and you could almost feel the crowd deflating through the television, as though it was trying to muster the requisite energy to vocalize the support this team deserved, but simply proving incapable of doing so. I won’t say that the crowd outright sucked last night, because it didn’t — but at the same time, the crowd never seemed quite the same after Aubrey Huff jacked a terrible Tommy Hunter cutter high and deep into the night. The crowd wasn’t ready for that adversity, I don’t think, and — to me, at least — it was palpable even through the over-the-air television broadcast.

I’ve read other reports criticizing the fans’ response (or lack thereof) last night to Aubrey Huff’s home run. Some blame the lack of fire on fans that could afford to go to the World Series that don’t really care about the game itself. I’m not sure I agree with that. Scanning the crowd last night, I saw very few people who weren’t in Rangers Red or Blue. I don’t think it was that the crowd didn’t care, I think it was that the crowd had same reaction to Huff’s homer that I did. “Oh boy, here we go again.”

It was a sinking feeling, watching that ball soar over the right field wall and into the darkness. The Rangers’ bats haven’t been what they were even ten days ago. I exhaled, thought about how the hitters had fared thus far in the game, and I thought, “This game is over.” (Yeah, Granddad’s phrase rears its ugly head.) The Rangers’ bats haven’t been producing much at all, and a two run deficit feels insurmountable. Though the Giants added two more, those first two runs were all that were necessary. The mighty Rangers lineup went down with a three-hit whimper. No extra base hits. One runner in scoring position all night long. I can’t fault the crowd for having the life sucked out of them. I was in the same position last night, just on my own couch; and the Rangers certainly didn’t give us anything about which we could get excited.

I realize that good pitching usually beats good hitting. Not to take anything away from the Giants’ pitchers, but I think the Rangers problems are mental. The Rangers have three multi-run innings this entire series, with two of the three coming when Game 1 was already out of hand. The third was the difference maker in Game 3. I think the Rangers are in their own heads. You can see frustration at the plate. You see it in their faces when a strike is called. You can see it in the mighty Vladimir Guerrero’s whimper of a swing. They’ve stopped having fun. They’re in the World Series and I think that’s gotten to them. That, and the Giants’ pitching.

I think they win Game 5 tonight. I think Cliff Lee comes back and throws a gem, and the Rangers send the series back to the Bay for Game 6. But I think for the Rangers to really be back in this series, they need to win tonight BIG. They can’t win the game off of a single inning of scoring. They need to get their bats going, get loosened up, and start having fun again. They need a game that isn’t a sigh of relief; they need a game that’s a deep exhale, “we’re back” sort of game. They’ve hit good pitching before. They need the kind of game that reminds them that while good pitching usually usually beats good hitting, sometimes good hitting rocks good pitching. Pitchers, after all, are human. If they have that kind of game, a game that gets them believing in themselves and having fun, then they just may have a chance in Game 6.

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.

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.