30 is fun, but 2 is better

That was a pretty good game today, but you always have to be aware of a slack second half performance once you get a good lead.  The Cowboys raced out to a 30-3 lead over the Ravens at half-time, but then slowed and almost tripped up when the backups came in for the second half, eventually running out 39-10 winners.

I kid, of course, and I’m sure you’ll see plenty of other football-related metaphors around the game today.  Today is one of the very few times this year that the Rangers have been in the national spotlight, and probably the first for a positive thing.  I’m not going to recap all the records set, apart from “modern major league scoring record”, I’m just going to bask in the glory a little.  Fact is, a game like this only happens rarely (every 110 years or so), and you shouldn’t read anything into it other than fluke.  It is not a repeatable skill to score that many runs, or to score even half that many runs.  Dave Trombley’s quote from the other end of it is just as appropriate for the Rangers: “You just have to have a short memory and let it go”.  We can enjoy it, but remember that as a team the Rangers still suck.  Not that I want to bring you down at all.  But as was pointed out in a lot of places, they scored more in this game than the last nine games combined (28).  That’s the real Rangers team, and when we look back on the 2007 season what are we going to remember, 30 runs in one game or being 15 games out of first all year long?  Actually, most will probably remember the 30.

I only joined the game on the radio while driving home from work, and at that point it was 14-3.  As soon as I heard that, I said I hope they don’t use up all their runs today, they need to keep some for the second game.  I repeated that a few times throughout the evening, and a few times more as the Rangers stumbled in game two, “only” managing 9 runs, and even then they trailed 7-6 late and had to pull something out to get the win.  But win they did, and a double-header sweep is very pleasing.

Tim Kurkjian was hilarious on Sportscenter, he sounded like he had been sucking helium before talking he was so excited.  And even better was seeing the reaction around the league, the various commentators pointing out the score and saying stuff.  If you read this early enough, try and see it on Sportscenter in the morning.

My role as Mr Negative continues, when I point out that amongst all the rounding of the bases, the Rangers actually struck out 19 times across the two games.  Yesterday I said we could end up with 20 strikeouts since we were playing a double header, and they pretty much realized that goal.   Do all those runs, and the wins, mask the strikeouts?  They do today, but what about tomorrow, when they have to start at zero again?  Which is more likely to show up for this Rangers team, 30 runs or 20 Ks?  Like I said above, which is the repeatable skill?  I really hope that the Rangers continue to hit well, and to win, and even to take this result and translate it into something hugely positive and give the team a kick-start.  But I hope even more that it doesn’t just fade away, that in another month (or in December) we’re not all sitting round saying “hey, remember the 30 run game?”.  I hope this does not mask things in the same way that I hope the small resurgence in the team in July does not mask April and May, in the way I hope that they don’t take small sample sizes (and one game is a very small sample size) and project them out and paper over the cracks and pretend everything is all right.  Bask in the glory, but don’t pretend this is a good baseball team.

One of the things I thought of earlier was the sabermetric value of runs, specifically that on average 10 runs equals one win.  If that’s the case, the Rangers got three wins in the first game today.  Of course, that will also raise their other sabermetric scores, like their Pythagorean Win-Loss record.  After game one tonight, their real record was 55-70.  Prior to the game their Pythag was 56-68, after the game it was 59-65.  In other words, they went from two games below Pythag to 4.5 games below.  There’s a lot of discussion about what Pythag really means, one in particular is how lucky or unlucky a team was (in this case, they’re unlucky, performing below what they should have based on the runs they scored and conceded).  Another is the quality of the manager, there’s a suggestion that the difference between real and Pythag may be the quality of the managing of the team.  If that’s the case, Ron Washington just took a big hit in his credibility.  In fact, in a few years, no-one will even notice the Rangers got 30 in one game when they look at Pythag, they’ll just say wow, 4.5 games below, the manager must have sucked.  In perspective, the Rangers were 6 below Pythag last year and Buck was fired.

Okay, off to bed, we’ll enjoy this again tomorrow.  It’ll be interesting to see what the local papers have to say, hopefully they’ll come up with some good headlines.  We ought to get some more publicity over the next few days about it, remember to enjoy it while it lasts.  It may be a while before the Rangers are being covered for something other than a Santana strikeout-a-thon.

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