Just three games in, and I’m already in a baseball funk. The Rangers played tonight like they are, too. Hopefully the day off tomorrow will help – although it’s a bad sign, looking a day off in the first week of the season.
I only watched about half the game today, first couple of innings, bits and pieces in the middle, and the end. It couldn’t hold my attention for very long, because there was literally nothing happening (no, not literally). If you were someone who didn’t like baseball, you would point at this game as a prototypical example of boring baseball.
Jennings wasn’t too bad, four runs in five innings is a fairly typical Rangers start, and really apart from the two home runs he didn’t do much wrong. But he also didn’t do much right – there was no dominance, no striking out the side, in fact, only 48 strikes in 91 pitches. Bland. Can he do better? Maybe. His track record from last year doesn’t suggest he can though. I think he’s on schedule to throw the home opener on Tuesday (hey, Josh Lewin, when’s the home opener? Tell us again, for the four thousandth time, even though if we don’t have tickets already we’re out of luck), which after watching this game, does not fill me with great excitement.
As for the rest, Ben Broussard’s home run was the highlight of a three hit attack. Carlos Silva stayed in way too long (116 pitches) for a first start of the season, and toward the end there he was looking a little shaky, but he did enough to keep us off base.
I am so mad at the tv people though. Last night they missed the first pitch of a Josh Hamilton at-bat, which happened to have him grounding out, but all we saw was him crossing first base. Tonight they went far worse, missing the first three pitches of the game, including the Kinsler double. I understand they’re trying to squeeze as many ads in as they can, but come on!
Josh Lewin also treated us to the surprising news that the yellow line marking home run territory is not necessarily the home run line, according to umpires. It’s just an indicator, he said. Firstly, it doesn’t indicate much if they get so many of those calls wrong, and secondly, this will come as news to every single fan who has ever watched a game, and 99% of the broadcasters. Is this yet another case where the umpires are making things up as they go along, to try and insert themselves into the game?
Speaking of umpires, I had no problem with them tonight, after a couple of bad displays the first two games. Maybe I should keep track of that stat: bad umpire plays, or maybe games ruined by jerks in blue suits.
Everyone will point out that the Rangers haven’t won an opening series since 2001. I will point out that they seem to start on the road every single year, so they’re automatically given a tougher start than they could have. Once again this week people are talking about the weather interruptions (Jays at Yankees were rained out, if only it had been Yankees at Jays then it would have been in a dome). If that’s the case, the Rangers should get more early games in the season, because we’re having some pretty nice weather right now, no snow or 50 degrees like in Seattle. Who makes up those schedules, anyway? (Do I remember reading about some old man and his wife who’ve been doing it for umpteen years? Or am I crazy?)
8 runs for and 13 against will give us a Pythagorean winning percentage of .274, or about 45 wins. Remember, small sample sizes tend to distort things.
You know how the Rangers have the “You could use some baseball” theme going? It could be worse: the Mariners’ theme is “Mojo Risin'”. I’m sure that means something to someone. Actually I’m only guessing that’s their theme because it’s in the same place on their mlb.com page as the Rangers theme. The other teams I checked didn’t have one. Which may be another pointer – you have to be a pretty lame team to need a theme (that is, a theme other than “we’re going to win”).
I’ve been meaning to mention all series about how the Mariners are kind of the model for the Rangers. By that I mean that while the Rangers have been floating along, winning from 71-80 games every year but one in the 2000’s, the Mariners weren’t afraid to tear their team down, from 116 wins in 2001 to 93 in 2003 to 63 in 2004, and then climbing back again. The Rangers committed to mediocrity, or just below mediocrity, and the Mariners went back to basics and quickly jumped back into contention. Who would you rather be right now? A team with an average offense and no rotation, or a team with below average offense and one of the best rotations in baseball? Their pitching is going to carry them close to the top, whereas ours is going to lead us back to 75 wins.
I’ve been looking at Millwood and Bedard’s PitchFX data all week, trying to come up with something to say about. Since tomorrow is an off day, maybe I’ll get it written up, perhaps even expanded to cover all six starters. We’ll see how it goes, but keep an eye out for it.