Absence makes the bats go quieter

Blogs are funny things. There are about three gazillion of them out there, and apparently most of them die a quick death, last just a post or two, or a month or two, before the owner gets bored and moves their attention elsewhere. I’ve read about there being a tipping point, and I don’t know exactly when it is, but possibly somewhere around six months is where a blog will have either died and been buried, or will end up lasting for years. There aren’t many in-between blogs, is what they say.

This blog is approaching the six month mark now, and early on was getting a daily post, on occasion more than one, but for the last month or so it has certainly fallen off to a trickle. Lately I’ve been writing very sparingly, I think about half a dozen posts in September, which works out to about two a week. You could be forgiven for thinking that I’d given up and gone home, gotten bored with it, or any of a hundred other things. You might be wondering when the day will come that you’ll realize you hadn’t seen anything from me for a while, and assumed it was just another deceased blog amongst millions.

Nope, I’m still alive and kicking. I’m as enthusiastic about the Rangers as ever, about baseball, about the blog, and about all the stuff I’ve done this year. What I’ve gotten into is a sort of terminal phase of the Rangers season. Yes, people will tell you there is a pulse, that they’ve been playing well for a few months, but the patient has been on life-support since April, and they’re about to pull the plug. Heck, we couldn’t even muster the enthusiasm to drag ourselves to a game in this last homestand. We talked about it, but ended up going and seeing balloons in Plano instead (having escaped the mile long traffic jam, and parked on the other side of 75 as the balloons flew right over our heads), and after that we didn’t feel like getting out on Sunday to see a ballgame too (especially since they couldn’t even give details of their Fan Appreciation on the website – if they’d said for sure that players would be greeting folks at the gate, and you could run the bases afterwards, we’d probably have been there.  But they didn’t, so we weren’t). I love the Rangers, consider myself a diehard fan (not as diehard as some, but certainly more than most), but I think I’m finally in the fifth stage, that of acceptance that this will just be another sucky season in the Rangers history books. And going through that makes it hard to get motivated every night to write just another little spiel counting down Michael Young, or talking about some other prospect who’s doing okay, or ranting about how bad Ron Washington has been doing things (boy, I could have written a few of those this week!).

But there’s one other thing that has held me back from writing. It’s September. In just a few days, the season will be over for the Rangers, and I’ll be able to look at complete sets of numbers for the season, instead of partial ones. If you’re thinking of Vicente Padilla, as I have been for most of my waking hours this past week, what can you say? Hey, he had a bad year, but did some good at the end? I could have written that a week ago, and then watched him start a fight and get suspended and have arguments with people and be called out by his manager (did Ron Washington really say that stuff about him? About being stuck with him for two more years?). Or, I could wait just a few more days, and maybe he gets that last start in on the last weekend after all, largely invalidating everything I’ve said?

If you read baseball online, and I’m not talking ESPN or the other big places that cover it, but rather the interesting blogs (by which I mean the ones that cover stuff that is interesting to me, not you), you may have noticed that many of them have dropped off in frequency now, and I suspect it is for the same reason, waiting for complete datasets. Just look at the Hardball Times, or Baseball Prospectus, and take a look at their feed history. Even those guys seem to have stopped doing stuff lately. Now, maybe they’re all hooked on the pennant races, which frankly I barely care about since the Rangers aren’t involved, but I doubt it.

So, what am I saying? I’m saying hang in there, I predict an explosion of info and posts from me and from people all around the blogosphere, starting next week. For example, I’ll be doing my season in review of the Rangers, looking position by position, that’ll fill much of October. Then there’s all sorts of deeper analytical stuff I want to get into, that could take much of the winter. And finally, for a couple of years I’ve been writing a multi-part piece about Nolan Ryan, now I have the place to publish it and so it’s time to dust it off, clean it up, and get it out there.

In short review of the Rangers recently and for the next few days:

Michael Young needs three hits in the last four games. He’ll probably get there.

Ron Washington’s brain seems to have melted down, and he’s been trash-talking most of the team. Jamey Newberg wrote a good piece on it a couple of days ago (it’s hard to link to individual pieces on Jamey’s site, but if you search the archives for the piece titled Meddle-Management, dated 9/23/07, you’ll find it).  Basically Ron’s way of motivating people for next year seems to be “you’re not good enough, so we’re looking for someone to replace you”.  To be charitable to Ron, my guess is that’s exactly the motivational speech he heard from his managers every year of his career.

Mark Connor:  “This is the most frustrating season I’ve had as a pitching coach, for sure”.  I can’t imagine that being the case, because he hasn’t done anything to be frustrated about – like coaching.  The irony is that Rudy Jaramillo is the one without a contract this winter, when he’s the only one who’s actually done anything around here.  Connor’s just sat there like a grumpy old geezer, not coaching anyone, not having a clue about what to do with the pitchers, and certainly not having them prepared for the season, or even for a game.  I don’t know who else is out there, but anyone would be better than him, because the players clearly don’t buy into anything he says.

Marlon Byrd had an outstanding June, which pretty much carried him all year since he sucked in July and August, but he’s improved a lot here in September.  I’d like to see him back, but since Washington said he needs two outfielders, Marlon may be the odd man out.  If we don’t keep him, he’ll fit in somewhere.

Galarraga’s start yesterday was ruined by Washington.  Say all you like about wanting to leave him in to get five innings and a shot at the win.  You don’t get a shot at the win if you keep giving up runs.  The guy hadn’t pitched hardly at all in two weeks, and you give him 87 pitches to blow up?  You want something positive, pull him when he’s starting to melt down, not when he’s done.  Now he goes into the off-season (assuming he doesn’t get another start, which might actually be possible) thinking about giving up five runs in an inning, not about having thrown four shutout innings.  Okay, he’s heading to AAA anyway, but you know he’ll be thinking about yesterday when he gets sent down in spring training.

The last time the Rangers didn’t have a 100 run player was 1992, and 100 RBI player was 1990 (excluding strike-shortened 94 and 95).  Right now Kinsler has 93 runs, and Young and Sosa are tied for 90 RBI.  In four games, that’ll be a stretch for any of them to get to 100.

Our season of discontent is almost over.  I say that like it’s an odd thing for Rangers fans to be discontented.  There are positive signs and there are negative signs around this team.  You can choose for yourself which it is, when I say I’m going to be posting for a long time to come.

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