Posts Tagged 'texas rangers'

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.

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.


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.

On Superpowers

supermanWatching the Rangers get trounced by the Kansas City Royals yesterday was an interesting experience. The game itself was not at all exciting, as the Rangers had very few hits until the 9th Inning. But the announcers, Josh & Tom are always incredibly entertaining to listen to. Topics ranged from their new Twitter feed (for those of you that are Twitterers, here’s their feed) to fan predictions to superhero powers. It’s this last topic that caught my attention. They were talking about which powers they’d want to have. Tom said he definitely didn’t want to have X-Ray vision, because there would be plenty of things that you’d see that you really didn’t want to. It boiled down to teleportation, superhuman strength, and flying if I’m not mistaken, though there was some discussion of traveling through time.

It got me thinking about what superpower I would want to have. The ones that immediate came to mind were:
– Flight
– Teleportation
– Invisibility
– Telekinesis (move objects with your mind)
– Time Travel
– Invulnerability/power to heal
– Super Strength
– Mind Reading
– X-Ray Vision
Mind reading and X-ray vision, while funny options in an adolescent way, would be incredibly burdensome, I think. If you could turn them on and off at will, that might be different, but it seems like a violation to have either of those, but especially the ability to read minds. There are just some things we’re not meant to know. Invisibility has that same adolescent appeal, but wouldn’t seem to have incredibly practical usage, I don’t think. If you disagree, convince me otherwise. Super Strength doesn’t really interest me, because I’d think that would become burdensome also. People would continually expect you to lift heavy stuff for them or help them move. I’d rather not be a glorified pack mule, thank you very much! Time travel seems cool on the surface, but there’s that whole messing with the space-time continuum thing that would really make life frustrating. I’ll pass on that, too, thanks.

For me, it comes down to Teleportation, Flight, or Telekinesis.
Flight is the obvious one. You can’t deny the coolness factor. I can’t imagine a bigger rush than soaring through the skies at high speeds. But, it too has its drawbacks. I think you’d swallow more than your fair share of bugs. Plus, the higher you go, the colder it gets, and I’d look really silly zipping up in a big parka before takeoff in Waco/The Woodlands in the middle of July.

Telekinesis is a really appealing choice to me. There are the obvious upsides of being able to move objects with your mind (no more getting up to get a drink, or getting up to get your wife one), plus it could protect you from danger (think Neo in The Matrix). What’s more, you could even theoretically move your own body, thus having the ability to fly. I’m sure there would be a limit to the power (no moving mountains or anything like that)… And I’m not quite seeing the downsides, except for maybe morbid obesity from not having to get up and exercise.

Teleportation is my current favorite, I think. Perhaps it lies in my current predicament, but I think that the ability to immediately travel anywhere would be super-cool. DC in the morning, an afternoon of skiing in Vail, New York for dinner, then sleep in your own bed for the night. You could live anywhere. No more commuting. You would save incredible amounts of money on cars and gas. Does it get cooler than that? I don’t think so.

What about you? What super power would you want? What have I left out?