I knew Rafael Palmeiro. Rafael Palmeiro was a friend of mine. Sammy, you’re no Rafael Palmeiro.
I found myself a little more excited than I expected I’d be when he hit the home run. Not too much more, not jumping up and down whooping or anything like that. But it was still a moment to remember. On a scale of one to ten, where ten is Raffy’s 500th, this was about a three, instead of the one I’d have expected. Funnily enough, I think the reactions everywhere else seem to agree with me. ESPN.com barely covered it, certainly not right after the event, where it took them a few minutes to get a Breaking News item on their front page (and ironically, the link to the story contained a link to the boxscore of the Astros-Angels game), although later in the evening they did get it to the front page story, which was simply “he did it, now is he worthy of the Hall of Fame?” And I have to say I am very conflicted on that. He is only the fifth guy who hit 600, after all, and there is no real evidence that he used steroids, just rumor and innuendo. I just don’t think I like him, he seems to be so manufactured, just not real when he’s talking to people. It all seems so rehearsed. But all in all, if I had a vote, I’d vote for him.
Both stories, on ESPN.com and on the Rangers website, said he was mobbed at home plate. As we watched, we were actually quite surprised about the fact that he wasn’t really mobbed at all. In most of the shots, I counted eight or nine Rangers at the plate, none of whom were leaping up and down excessively, and a few others on the way back to the dugout. There really was no outpouring of emotion like when Raffy hit 500, or when other players have done similar things. It will be very interesting to compare to Alex Rodriguez when he hits 500 sometime later this summer, how the Yankees fans treat him. After Raffy, the game was stopped for several minutes, they unfurled the banner on the right field wall (which was shamefully removed at the end of the season, it or something like it should be there permanently) and did all sorts of stuff. We still have the certificates they handed out after the game for attending it. I wonder if they gave out anything like that today? But there was no real enthusiasm, which is probably fair and reasonable, given that he’s really just a bit part for the Rangers and the Rangers are just a bit part for him. Someone had a sign saying something like “545 for the Cubs, 12 for the Rangers, he’s still our Sammy”, and that’s completely true – he’s their’s, not ours. Maybe Chicago will have a little celebration, at least the parts of Chicago that still like him, but there’s not that much in Arlington.
I’ve mentioned several times before that we went to every game for a week, and took photos of every pitch, so we could see Raffy hit 500. I’ll have to dig out my photo of #500, it’s not as good as I’d like, I snapped it with the ball halfway to the plate. We never had any intention of seeing 600 for Sosa, and now the moment is over. How do we quietly ease him out of town (or at least out of the lineup) so we can get Jason Botts some at-bats? I guess there should be a respectful waiting period, maybe until the All-Star break?
The Rangers sent an email tonight about him hitting it, with the obligatory links to watch the video, and to buy a Sosa shirt. I can’t remember an MLB occasion where they didn’t link it to “give us your money”, but then again they are a commercial organization.
Great quote from one story on the Rangers site: “The Rangers beat the Cubs for the first time in Texas, to even the series at one game apiece.” Hooray, for the first time we beat the Cubs here! That long horrendous streak of losing to them at home is over, we can now rest easy knowing that we’re off the mark against them. Just a little hyperbole to match theirs.
In other news, Michael Young says “I don’t want to rebuild, I want to fix it immediately. Winning is my concern. I know it’s not going to be easy, but that’s what we all signed up to do.” Every day I get closer and closer to realizing that Michael Young will not be here at the end of his new seven year contract. And for the first time I saw an article (on ESPN) saying that the Rangers should trade Millwood. Maybe I’m wrong when I think the downward spiral (dare I say death spiral) has stopped?
Hicks today said he thought that Juan Gonzalez used steroids. Yep, that’s the way to make the fans like you and the organization, knock some of our heroes down. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, that’s not the point. Everything Hicks does and says seems to lower the value of the franchise, which is odd for a successful businessman to do. Is he trying to sell the team for a loss, for tax purposes? You know he has a reason to do everything he does.
May 11, 2003 will always mean a lot more to me than June 20, 2007. The only thing that today will leave is a small highlight in a season of no highlights. And as I look ahead to the rest of the year, what more do the Rangers have to play for? No playoff challenge, no other milestones, just three and a half more months of bad pitching, fielding and hitting until we can say “wait till next year”. Sigh. At least Josh is still too young to know what losing is about yet. I wish I could believe that every hit is a home run and we should always have fireworks.